Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Naan Bread

  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp nigella (aka black onion seeds) 
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups plain flour

I've noticed that Indian restaurants in the US don't seem to put nigella in their naan bread whereas those in the UK do. Having spent most of my life in England I find them to be essential. I've made naan in the past without them though and they are OK, just missing that unique nigella flavor. In my opinion they are well worth seeking out. I found my last batch in an Indian grocery store. It used to be that Whole Foods sold them but last time I looked they have greatly reduced the variety of spices they now have. 

Start off by placing the yoghurt and milk in a large glass bowl and heating for approximately a minute or so in the microwave. Warming this up helps activate the yeast allegedly...

Next add the baking powder, sugar, melted butter, eggs and yeast to the bowl and stir well with balloon whisk to incorporate everything. Finally add the nigella seeds and stir to distribute.

Switch from the whisk to a wooden spoon and begin adding the flour. Add about a cup at a time and the stir in. When you have added all three cups if the dough is still too sticky add up to an extra half cup to make it easier to manage.

Turn out the dough and kneed for several minutes until it starts to have that nice sheen and elasticity that well kneeded dough has. Roll into a ball and cover with the glass bowl. Leave to rise for about an hour at room temperature. Dough should approximately double in size.

Once dough has risen divide it into at least four and as many eight pieces (depends how many you have to feed, how big you like your naan...)

Take each piece of dough and "encourage" it into the typical naan shape. This is a very approximate thing (for me at least) achieved through stretching, pressing and other general forms of manipulation as needed to get something reasonable looking.  In general the dough should end up pretty thin, a millimeter or two. No idea what fraction of an inch that is but not much...

Melt some more butter (perhaps 2 Tbsp or so) and brush each of your naan lightly on the top side.  Now place them butter-side down in a large hot skillet/frying pan that you have pre-heated and quickly brush the second side with a little butter. It should only take a couple of minutes before you need to flip the naan over. Use a fish slice to check on progress and ultimately turn the bread.

As each naan is finished transfer to a warm plate and keep covered with something (clean tea towel, foil, etc.)

These are great with any curry, but especially those with a lot of sauce.

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