naan and Indian comfort food

March 11, 2012 § 4 Comments

Plateful of homemade scallion-topped naan

I love those Indian tandoor-baked breads so much, that I’ve even stopped by a good Indian restaurant and placed a naan order to go. But if you get a little head start before making dinner, you can make a good tasting flatbread at home. It doesn’t have exactly the same charred crisp outside, stretchy inside, but you can get delicious results on your baking stone in a hot oven. I wouldn’t hesitate to make it again the next time I make Indian food at home.

Wet ingredients go into the mixer bowl first, followed by the dry; mix to combine then switch to the dough hook to knead.

After one rise, turn the dough out, portion into eight pieces and shape into “buns”; cover and rest for several minutes.

Just before baking roll and flatten the bun into the traditional teardrop (or oval) shape. If you’re adding toppings, scatter and press them in now. Then dock (poke holes) with a fork to prevent the bread from puffing into pita.

Immediately place on the baking stone in a well-preheated HOT oven. I like to keep a pan of hot water under the stone to keep the oven a little steamier. There’s about a minute between placing each of these on the stone, and I flipped them over for a final minute of baking.

Here’s my recipe which can be easily doubled; you can freeze leftover naan for a couple of weeks.

Naan (makes 8 flatbreads)

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour (I substituted 1/2 cup with whole wheat)

1 teaspoon instant yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon nigella seeds, optional

1/2 cup (4 oz.) warmed milk

1/2 cup (4 oz.) plain yogurt

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 small bunch scallions, thinly sliced

melted ghee or butter and coarse salt, optional

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside. Place the warmed milk, yogurt and melted butter into the mixer bowl and mix briefly to combine. Check to make sure the temperature is between 80°-90°F before adding the dry ingredients. Mix everything together on low speed with the flat beater until well combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead on speed 2 until the dough comes together and is somewhat smooth, no more than five minutes. Cover and set aside to rise until doubled, about an hour.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 500°F with a baking stone on a lower shelf. Turn out the risen dough onto a floured surface and divide into eight portions with a bench scraper. Roll each portion up into a rounded bun and set aside on a floured section of the board; cover and let rest for 30 minutes. One at a time, take a bun and use a pin to roll it about 1/8-inch thick into a traditional teardrop or oval shape. Sprinkle sliced scallions over the naan and press them in with your fingers. Dock (prick) the dough all over with a fork to prevent it from puffing up in the oven. Open the oven and with your hands quickly place the naan onto the baking stone leaving room for 2-3 others. Immediately shut the oven and proceed rolling, topping and docking the next one and keeping an eye on how they quickly they brown. If needed, turn each naan over so it cooks completely, remove from the oven to a plate and cover with foil to steam and keep warm. Continue shaping and baking the naan in batches until done. If you like, brush melted ghee or butter and sprinkle with a little coarse salt before serving.

I served the naan with two Indian-style dinners last week – a dal of mixed beans over brown rice and lamb curry with yogurt and tomato chutney I canned last fall. If these dishes appeal to you, hop over to Indianfoodpalooza for more recipes and a chance to show off your own Indian cooking creativity this month.

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