Last weekend I looked up many recipes wondering ‘what next’?While reading Nita Mehta’s ‘Mughlai Cooking’ it struck me that I never tried ‘naan’ at home.I had always found it intimidating to prepare them at home for the following reasons:
- The shape and the fact that it is treated as a special delicacy!!
- It is made of refined flour (All purpose flour or maida).
- Everyone I know who makes of naan uses a tandoor and I always was under the impression that a tandoor is an essential gadget for naan.
- That it was going to be yeast that would go into my dough (The recipes I read used yogurt and baking powder),
- To use whole wheat flour instead of maida, and
- To turn my widest and deepest kadhai (Deep Wok) into my tandoor(I have seen Himachalis cooking their rotis in this manner during my trek there so I tried the technique on impulse – and it worked great!)
I learnt the following facts about ‘naan’ from wikipedia–
- Naan is one of the culinary contribution of the Mughal Rule in India – The Mughals must have been wonderful cooks and gourmets, going by the spread of tasty dishes we learnt from them;
- In most ‘naan’ recipes we now leaven the bread with baking powder instead of yeast as used to be done in earlier days (I was on the right track – I used yeast! Yay!!);
- It is cooked in a ‘clay oven’ or ‘tandoor’;
- In Myanmar, it is known as ‘nan bya’ and is made – round, buttered and topped with peas, and served with mutton soup for breakfast; and,
- It is a staple accompaniment in most parts of Central and South Asia.
I had toyed with the idea of preparing ‘garlic bread’ for JFI started by Indira of Mahanandi. But I suppose fate had other plans, so this has now turned out to be my entry for for April’s Jihva for ingredients , this time hosted by Virundu.
The naans tasted great.They were more like browned pizza bases or pita breads and I felt good as they had actually cooked through (as in breads) instead of turning hard and chewy with time (That might happen because the naan has not leavened, or due to the use of baking powder? I have to find that out.Your own experience in the matter will help me so please feel free to contribute)!
Since there was yeast in the dough, I also tried making stuffed buns with the excess dough, and they too were equally good.I had made ‘paneer makhani’ to go with it, and the item is a hit with my family.The recipe is entirely mine in the sense that I made it with a rough estimate of what goes into a ‘naan’ keeping its texture in mind. The measurements do not conform to any standard recipe – so if it doesn’t turn out well maybe you could just let me know what was wrong, so I can perfect it or you could give me some tips for bettering it as you might have done by improvising!For me it is a keeper as it is:
Whole wheat flour with bran (Do not sieve the flour) – 1 ¾ cups
Maida (White flour) – ¼ cup
Powdered sugar – ¼ tsp.
Salt – ½ tsp. (I felt this was a little less – try using 3/4tsp.)
Powdered almonds – 4 blanched and cooled almonds (I had them in the fridge for the almond cake/Aran’s macaroons I am due to bake in a few days so that was just sheer impulse)
Oil – ¼ cup
Yogurt – ½ to ¾ cup
Hot water – ½ cup (Only if required)
Milk – ½ cup
Yeast – 1 tbsp.
GARLIC – If you would like to make the garlic naans!
1. Heat milk to lukewarm.Add yeast and set aside for 15 minutes or till it is frothy.
Mix the flours, sugar, salt and powdered almonds in a big bowl.
2. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture.
3. Add the yogurt and oil and mix using a wooden spoon incorporating the flour.
4. Knead the dough using a little hot milk or water adding more if needed.It should be a sticky, wet dough (As in focaccia).After the first proofing you will find it manageable, so don’t worry much over the stickiness!
5. If needed smear a little oil (a drop or two) on your palm and gather the dough into a ball.
6. Set aside in a lightly oiled bowl in a warm spot for proofing.It will double in volume in about 45 minutes to one hour. (Here in Thane it is summer already!)
7. Punch the dough, and divide into lime sized balls (I made about 7 small naans, two medium sized, and 3 buns out of the entire dough).
8. Roll it into oblong shaped rotis.Pull a little from one end without tearing the rolled roti. (2mm to 3mm thick – it will double in height while cooking)
9. Smear one side with little water and paste it over hot inverted kadhai.Reduce the fire and cook till one side is done.
10. Carefully remove with a pancake turner when bubbles start building on the surface.Flip and stick the other side.
11. If you would like garlic naan grate garlic on one side and press it down into the dough before smearing the other side with water and sticking it on the kadhai, as I have done in some of mine.
12. Cook on reduced fire. It will double in height (about two minutes for the second side).Remove and check.
13. Ifit is speckled with brown spots it is done.The colour of the dough would have also changed.
When you break the naan you will find that it has bread like formation inside.
Dab a little butter/ghee and serve immediately with any North Indian accompaniment like chhole, dal makhani, paneer makhani or koftas.For a more authentic taste serve with a few thick rings of onion topped with jeera powder sprinkled with lime juice or with onions in vinegar, and green chillies.And do let me know the outcome!!
NOTE: The kadhai gets cleaned quite easily as there is no oil on the naan – only a thin spread of water, so don’t get put off by the burnt look!!
I am sending all the Rotis/Parathas/Flatbreads I have made so far to the ‘roti mela’ hosted by Srivalli of ‘Cooking 4 all seasons‘ by announcing a ‘roti mela‘. Here is the neat and yummy logo created by her especially for the mela. She has got a great blog there with a large variety of items for your palate, so if you haven’t (Which I doubt!), do check it now!