Sunday, March 14, 2010

Naan


I'm a bit nervous about this post. Why you ask? Well, I'm afraid that if anyone tries my recipe for naan they will be very upset with me. Let me explain. The way I make this naan is a bit messy, challenging, definitely unconventional and maybe even dangerous. However, if you try it and stay the course, using the utmost caution during the baking process I think you'll be happy with the end result. This naan turns out toasted golden brown on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. In my opinion it's as close as I could get without an actual tandoor oven.

You'll need a pizza stone for this recipe.


Ingredients
1 packet dry yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water (not hot)
2 cups flour plus 3-4 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fat free yogurt
1 tablespoon oil or ghee
1/4 cup warm fat free milk
Extra oil for handling wet dough
butter or ghee
patience
persistence
Makes 4

Directions
Slowly stir together yeast, sugar and water in a bowl and let rest for a few minutes to bubble up and become active.

Mix all dry ingredients together (only use the 2 cups of flour). Then add wet ingredients including yeast mix with your hands.

This is where you'll be annoyed with me, because the mix will be very wet and messy. That's because my liquid to dry ratio is greater than most recipes. I did this because I felt it would result in a softer naan.

At this point, gather up your patience and add the 3-4 extra teaspoons of flour. Slowly add it little by little and just dust it over the top of the messy wet flour mound and each time gather it up from the bottom of the bowl. Gently turn it over then dust some more. Continue until the extra flour is used up.

I don't believe in over kneading dough when making naan and paratha (which I'm looking forward to posting soon). I just mix/knead the mixture together very gently. Actually at this point it's virtually impossible to knead because it’s so wet. Next grease another large bowl with about a teaspoon, maybe a bit more of extra oil and scrape the wet dough into this bowl. Now wash your hands clean, and then rub some oil on your hands so you can handle the dough. Take the dough gently away from the edges of the bowl with your hands and turn it over so that the whole mass gets lightly oiled. Now cover it with a damp warm towel and leave it to proof.

Here's where my unconventional steps comes in. You don't even have to do this first part because your dough will probably proof just fine without this step. It was a cold damp day when I made this dough so I was afraid my dough wouldn't proof the way I wanted it to. So…I placed the bowl of dough on my kitchen table next to a space heater set to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with its fan blowing near the bowl but not at it. There I said it...I know it sounds strange but it worked. So don't judge me. Like I said if you don't have a space heater just let your dough rise like normal people do. If you do use a space heater, use common sense and do not leave it unattended. I've heard of people proofing dough in a warm oven that's been turned off. Unfortunately, that has never worked for me.

The dough should take about half an hour to proof maybe longer. You know it's proofed when it's doubled in size. When it has doubled in size, get ready to get messy again.

Brush the inside of 4 large cereal bowls with oil. Rub your hands with oil again and punch the dough down. Gather the dough together and separate it into four equal portions. You'll probably be angry with me here also because the dough will still be sticky. If you have enough oil on your hands then handling the dough will be much easier. Place each of the portions in the greased cereal bowls, cover with warm towels and allow to proof again, about 30 minutes.

Now comes the dangerous part. Turn your oven up as high as it will go and place the pizza stone in the oven. Allow the pizza stone to heat up. My oven goes up to 500/broil. When you feel your oven has reached a high enough temperature, get suited up with your best oven mitt. I'm serious, use the heavy duty kind that goes all the way up your arm. If you don't have one, don't even attempt this.

While wearing your heavy duty oven mitt, remove the pizza stone and place on your stove top. Take one of the cereal bowls, punch down the proofed dough, and remove it to a greased surface. Be creative here, you can use a wooden cutting board lined with wax paper which is greased or even your counter top brushed with some oil. I used a plastic cutting board with a very smooth surface. The key is to use a surface that will not allow the dough to stick to it.

Spread/stretch the dough flat into a long naan shape, not too thick and not too thin. Remove the dough from the greased surface and transfer to the pizza stone. The key here is to work quickly and limit the distance you have to walk from where you're stretching the dough to the oven. This is because as you travel with the dough it will continue to stretch and be difficult to handle. After placing the dough on the pizza stone wear your oven mitts again and place the pizza stone in the oven. Let the naan puff up for a couple of minutes.

Then while wearing your oven mitt, remove the pizza stone and place it under your broiler for about a minute. Please be very careful during these steps because you can easily burn your hands or drop the pizza stone on your toes. Also get any pets or children who may be under foot out of the kitchen while you do this. After about a minute, maybe less you'll see that the top of the naan has turned golden brown. Remove the pizza stone (while wearing those oven mitts) and place back on stove top. Use a spatula to transfer the cooked naan to a plate and brush with butter or ghee. If the naan is cooked through it should easely lift off the pizza stone. Repeat with the other three portions of dough.

So there it is. After reading that if anyone tries this recipe, I'll be very surprised. The naan turned out pretty darn good though! It would go well with lamb curry, vegetable korma, any curry really.



While preparing for this post I've looked at many different naan recipes both online and in my cookbooks. I see that some use only yogurt and some use only milk, others use milk and egg. I used yogurt and milk because I always only have fat free versions of both in my fridge. I feel if I add the yogurt along with the milk it gives the dough some more substance. Not sure if this is really true as I've never tried it with milk or yogurt alone.

3 comments:

  1. I'm always up for a challenge and a good naan but I'm not going do it this way :D

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  2. I don't think you're alone Cynthia :)

    ReplyDelete