Saturday, 16 June 2012

Naan (Indian Leavened Flat-bread)

Traditionally Naans are baked in the hot tandoor or clay oven. Although these are cooked in the conventional oven or the skillet it is just as authentic as the tandoor made naans. This recipe is adapted from one of my favourite Books – Indian Food & Cooking by Shehzad Hussain and this is one recipe that I  make over and over again and again. I have tried several different recipes for naan, and  this is the best of the lot and I am very happy with the result. 

As the traditional naan is baked in real hot oven, taste would vary slightly from the home made ones. The high heat in the tandoor results in perfect, chewy naan with a light crisp on the outside and soft, fluffy and slightly chewy bread. The dark brown spots are characteristic of naan bread which gives it a nice smoky flavour and is a bit difficult to achieve while being made in the conventional oven or the skillet. 
I usually make these in the skillet, as it is more easier, and brings out the perfect results. Over-cooking them can make them tough and chewy. The texture of your naan can vary depending on the time, the method used and the thickness of the dough you make. Play around with the thickness of the dough until you get it right. Will take a bit of practice, but soon you will reach there. I have used kalonji/onion seeds to flavour naans, but you can also use chopped garlic and coriander, another favorite combination of mine. . You can also stuff the dough with your favourite filling like cooked and seasoned minced meat, cheese, dry fruits and nuts etc. The recipe may look lengthy as I have explained it in detail, but believe me, it is very easy, and it is quick to make apart from the resting time of the dough.

Naan (Indian Leavened Flat-bread)
Makes 6-8
¼ cup lukewarm milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
450g / 3 cups plus 3 Tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp – 1tsp salt
150 mls / ½ cup plus 2 tbsp  (2/3 cup)milk
125mls / ½ cup natural plain yogurt, beaten
1 medium size egg, 55g, beaten
2tbsp melted ghee
flour for dusting
ghee for greasing
chopped coriander leaved and onion seeds (Kalonji) to garnish
1.Mix the yeast, sugar and warm milk and leave it aside to become frothy, takes around 15-25 minutes, depending on the heat of milk and quality of yeast.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Make a well in the dry mixture and add the yeast mixture, milk, yogurt, beaten egg and melted ghee. Slowly draw in the flour to the wet mixture and knead it gently for about 10 minutes to form a soft but pliable dough. If it’s too sticky, dust it with little flour. Cover the bowl containing the dough and keep it in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. To test, push a finger slowly into the dough – it should spring back.

4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C 10 minutes before baking.

5. Divide the dough into 6-8 portions. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Make each naan slipper shaped or teardrop shaped, about 8-10 inches long.

6. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and press kalonji into the dough. Place on the greased trays and bake for about 9-12 minutes until you get brown spots here and there.

7. This naan can also be made in the tawa/skillet, the method I prefer and I follow. For that, place a tawa on medium heat and place the naan in. Cover the tawa with a lid. This step is important as covering the naan brings up the air pockets. Once it is cooked on one side, flip the naan over and cook until it gets black spots here and there, pressing down gently with a spatula. To get the black charred spots on, you could follow this way too - Once the naan is cooked on one side, cook the other side on direct flame using a tongs until you see charred spots on.

8. Brush with melted butter as soon as it comes off the oven/tawa and keep it covered with a clean cloth to keep it warm and moist. Serve hot with any curries.

1.If the naans are being made in the oven, roll it slightly thick about ¾ cm thick else it goes a bit dry in the oven. And while making it on tawa, roll it quite thin almost like you roll for chappathi.

2. Do not over bake naans as they can get tough and chewy. It will be difficult to get brown spots in oven. Take them off, as little brown spots appear. If it goes bown through out, it can be tough.

3. I always prefer the skillet method and make my naans always in that. The pictures in the post are of naans cooked on skillet, cooked on both sides in skillet.
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