Friday, May 15, 2009

Homemade Naan, It's Easy and Fun

A popular Indian flat bread, Naan is traditionally baked in a clay Tandoor oven, but with a pizza stone you too can make authentic delicious naan.

Adapted from a recipe from Manjula's Kitchen, the dough is simple to make and the timing is flexible. You can set the dough to rise in the morning and bake when you get home from work. Or you can let it rise over night and bake any time the next day. If you can't get to it right away, punch the dough down and put it in the fridge. When you're ready, bring it back to room temperature before shaping and baking.

Naan Recipe:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of baking soda
2 tablespoons oil
2 1/2 tablespoons plain yogurt
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup all purpose flour for rolling

1 TBS melted butter
Fleur de Sel (Kosher salt can be substituted)
Fresh cracked black pepper

Dissolve yeast in warm water and let "bloom" for 15 minutes.

Put flour, salt, sugar and baking soda in the bowl of a standing mixer and, using the dough hook, mix on low until combined. Add yogurt, oil and yeast mixture then knead on medium, for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add small amounts of flour if too wet, until a very soft ball of dough forms. Turn out onto floured board and knead lightly by hand, adding flour to the board to keep the soft dough from sticking.

Put dough back into the same bowl used for mixing and let rise, at room temperature, at least 2 hours or until it doubles in bulk.

When ready to bake, preheat oven, with pizza stone in the lower quarter of the oven, to 500 degrees. Punch down the dough using oiled hands and, on a well floured board, knead lightly and divide into six equal balls.

Roll balls out into a rectangle about 1/4" thick, using plenty of flour to prevent dough from sticking.

Gently place two or three naans directly on baking stone and bake 5 to 7 minutes, watch closely as they can burn quickly. When puffy with brown spots all over, they're ready and should be placed on a cooling rack. While still warm, brush lightly with melted butter, sprinkle with Fleur de Sel and fresh cracked pepper. Proceed with the rest of the batch. Makes 6 Naans

We love Naan with Indian curries and chutneys but it's equally at home with kabobs or even aged cheddar cheese. We eat it with everything but our absolute favorite is all by itself, fresh and still warm from the oven. There's nothing like it. Should there be any left overs, they toast up perfectly in the toaster oven, much like the sourdough waffles. I can see how this could be habit forming.

My naans are never of uniform size or shape but don't sweat that part, they bake up perfectly every time, always delicious and they disappear quickly.

Here's a video from Manjula's Kitchen that I found helpful.

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