Sunday, April 5, 2009

Naan (Indian Flatbread)

I don't know if I've told you this already, but I eat a vegetarian dinner once a week (I also eat vegetarian lunches almost every day). So, during spring break, I decided to make an Indian meal with vegetable curry and homemade naan.
Naan is a type of Indian flatbread that is traditionally baked in a tandoor, a beehive-shaped oven that can reach scorchingly high temperatures. Since I, like most people, do not own a tandoor, I decided to look for a recipe adapted to the typical American kitchen. I found one in the newest Spring Entertaining, by Cook's Illustrated magazine.

The recipe was not to complicated, and made naan thattasted just like the ones I get from Indian restaurants. Rather than baking them in the oven like most American adaptations, it called for cooking the naan in a cast-iron skillets on the stove to simulate the one-sided high-heat of tandoor. The disadvantage of this was that I had to cook each loaf one at a time, but according to the magazine, using the oven resulted in dry and tough bread. It also instructed to brush the finished naan with melted butter or ghee, but I decided not to.

Naan (from Cook's Illustrated, makes 8 6"-7" naan)
  • 13 1/2 oz (2 1/2 cup) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 oz whole wheat flour
  • 1 package instant/rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water (I used more)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbps olive oil + extra for bowl
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds (opt)
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted (I didn't)
  1. Combine flours, yeast, sugar, and salt in bowl of stand mixer and mix with paddle attachment until blended.
  2. Add water, yogurt, and oil and mix on low speed until shaggy dough forms, about 30 sec, adding more water in 1 tbsp increments if necessary.
  3. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes, adding more flour if necessary (one tbsp at a time), to allow dough to clear sides of bowl but stick to very bottom.
  4. Transfer dough to clean work surface and knead by hand 1 minute.
  5. Shape dough into ball, transfer to lightly oiled large bowl, cover w/ plastic wrap, and place in draft-free spot. Let rise 45 minutes to 1 hour (Until dough has doubled in size)
  6. Transfer dough to unfloured work surface, cut into 8 equal portions, and roll each into a ball using a cupped palm and the friction of the work surface.
  7. Let balls rest 5-10 minutes.
  8. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each ball into 6-inch circles (add sesame seeds on top if using.)
  • Heat a heavy skillet (I used an iron tortilla pan) over med-high heat until hot, about 5 minutes (no oil).
  • Working with 1 piece of dough at time, left dough and gently stretch about 1 inch larger, and lay in skillet.
  • Cook until dough starts forming bubbles under the surface (about 30 sec), then flip (tongs are good) and cook until bottom is speckled brown/black (2 minutes)
  • Flip again until other side is also brown (1-2 minutes)
  • Transfer bread to wire rack and brush lightly with melted butter. (if you want to)
  • Serve immediately, store uneaten portions in a plastic bag or aluminum foil at room temperature.
My vegetable curry with cauliflower, sweet potatoes, peas, chickpeas, and tomatoes


Catherine Granger said...

Everything was delicious: the naan, the vegetable curry, this was a real treat!

Agnes said...

It was delicious but I had no idea it was so much work!

Julien said...

That looks so tasty! Too bad I wasn't there to have some! :(