Sunday, March 6, 2016

Indian Naan Bread

Why do people eat with their bare hands?  Such table practice is  not so uncommon when you look at it. It is in fact, shared by many cultures , including mine.    Foods tend to be more savory, enjoyable and palatable that way. Having to touch the food before popping it into one's grateful maw is somehow liberating. It puts away restrictions . It puts away inhibitions. There's just you and the food before you. I do have that need when occasion arises, much to the fascination of my fork and knife armed husband. When comfort zones all cave in  and when I  just simply feel like digging in. Literally speaking.Why do it?  You might ask again. Well, because  there are foods that should be eaten by bare hands. Simple.

I fell in love with Indian cuisine about 6 years ago. Felt like I've wasted few years of my life for not discovering it early enough. What's not to love anyways? Rich and flavorful stews and curries, aromatic tandooris, the tangy yet fruity chutneys,  flavourful biryanis and then there's this soft, pliable and addictive flat breads, Naan. Who needs cutlery when there's this edible utensil to scoop and soak up all that hot , delicious sauces and gravies? Naan bread makes me put down my fork and knife anytime!

I am in no means an expert when it comes to Indian cuisine and definitely am not a baker. However, for a beginner, this recipe faired better than I expected. Many thanks to the wonderful Indian moms and aunties on  Youtube who shared tricks and recipes. 
This is the  second time I made Naan. Unlike the doughy, thick and heavy yeast based version I baked before, this  version was thin, soft and pliable . Like how I wanted it to be. It's like the one I could get in many Indian restaurants. Most importantly, it tasted quite good! If you haven't baked Naan Bread before and wants to try making it at home, then  give this recipe a try!

Today's lunch. Naan bread, mango lassi and Fish Curry! I mopped the plate clean using the Naan bread. FF too....

Feeds 4 (or 3 very hungry people)

2 cups all purpose flour + extra for dusting
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup joghurt
1/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup warm water

Toppings: ( optional
1/3 cup melted butter
1 whole head of garlic, finely minced
1 handful of cilantro/coriander leaves
grated cheese

I used my old pizza stone for this recipe. The Naan puffed and was cooked in no time.

Sift flour. Put in a large mixing bowl. add in salt, sugar, and baking soda. Whisk until well combines. Add in 1 tbsp. of oil and curd/ yoghurt.  Pour warm water one tbsp. at a time until mass comes together. Clean thy hands very well and rub  it in a bit of oil. Knead dough for about 7 minutes.

Form dough into a ball. If you want to check if you knead and relaxed it to submission, poke it.

 Watch as it slowly springs back. It has to be firm yet springy. 

 Transfer in well greased bowl. Brush with the remaining oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 2 hours. Imagine it's you after having a thorough massage, you simply want to lay around and relax. So don't  poke, don't peek and don't disturb it! Like a sleeping dragon with a toothache, better leave it in peace!

Once the dough rises and doubles in size , transfer in a floured surface and knead for about 3 more minutes.

  It will turn smooth and elastic then. Cut dough into equal parts, like cutting a pizza.

Roll each  dough into small balls. Cover with kitchen towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 230 °C. Put pizza stone in the middle of the oven.

Once oven and the pizza stone are hot, change oven setting  to ''grill'' or ''broil. Sprinkle working surface with flour. Roll naan dough into circle or oblong and as thinly as you could.

If you are making garlic naan. Spread a teaspoon of finely mince garlic on the naan . Press using the back of a spoon to bury the garlic bits.

Flip the Naan. Brush one side with water to moistened it. 

Put naan, moistened side down on the pizza stone. Bake until puffed  and slightly brown. Keep an eye on it. Take about 2-3 minutes. Do not  overbake. Naan has to be soft and pliable, not cardboard hard and dry!

 Transfer into a plate. Drizzle with softened butter or ghee.  

Garlic Naan
 Garnish with chopped coriander.

For cheese naan. Spoon a teaspoon of softened butter/ghee on unbaked naan, then sprinkle cheese. Press cheese using the palm of your hand to make it stick to the dough. Flip and moistened one side with water and bake.

Cheese Naan

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