Friday, September 2, 2011

Naan-Style Bread

Flour, about 4 ½ to 5 cups, including 1 - 2 cups of whole wheat flour if desired
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
5 tsp yoghurt
2 tsp sugar
3 T milk
1 cup water
2 T cooking oil
Fennel seeds (optional)
In a bowl, sieve or mix together 2 cups of the flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate, small bowl, whisk the yoghurt. Whisk in the sugar and milk.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the yoghurt mixture and the 1 cup water. Mix well, ideally with a wooden spoon. Stir in the whole wheat flour. Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Knead in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
Cover the dough with a moist cloth and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then, knead in the two tablespoons of cooking oil until the dough absorbs the oil. Cover the dough with a moist cloth again and let it rise. Ideally it should rise for two hours, though if you make naan with it before then, the naan will still be pretty good.
Grease one or more cookie sheets. Make the dough into golf-ball-sized balls and place them on the cookie sheets. Flatten the balls slightly and sprinkle with fennel seeds, if desired. Then, roll and flatten each dough ball between your palms. Stretch the dough to one side to give the naan an elongated shape.
Bake 10 – 13 minutes in a 375 F oven. Immediately after the naan comes out, transfer it to a serving dish and butter it. Serve with additional butter.

My naan recipe is by no means authentic. It is adapted for an American kitchen. The original recipe calls for doing the whole thing, from the sieving through the kneading, in a kneading trough. I don’t own one, though it sounds like it would be terribly convenient. By the way, it also doesn’t mention the additional flour. Only the first two cups of flour are mentioned. I had to figure out the rest by myself.
The original also calls for groundnut oil (i.e. peanut oil) instead of plain cooking oil, and melon seeds to sprinkle on top (though the picture shows little black seeds like mustard seeds, not the cantaloupe seeds I would have guessed). I tried putting on fennel seeds instead, and love their sweet, licoricy taste.
The original recipe also called for a total of 6 dough balls to be made from this recipe. The resulting naan must be enormous! I get ten or more little balls, but I like it that way. I don't think my naan looks or tastes much like the naan I've seen elsewhere. Possibly because I am baking it in an American oven instead of in a hot tandoor for just 3 minutes! But it's still good and goes fillingly well with the daal recipe below.

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