Fresh Naan Bread: A Snap- Who Knew?

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Chana masala (curried chickpeas) with a salad and fresh naan

I love Indian food! If you do too, check out my recipe for venison vindaloo, bahut garam! If you really want to do it up right, though, for the ultimate yummy Indian food experience, you have to make raita, fresh chutney, and naan bread. Seriously, bhai.

I have found that there are wonderful Indian chefs doing all kinds of jolly YouTubes- some of them seem like they are beautiful young women with multiple PhDs who got married and now do this because they are bored in the house- and some are wonderful aunties like Manjula, my favorite, whose capable brown hands and bejeweled wrists turn out lovely parathas, puris, curries, pickles….but that is not how I got to make my own Naan bread. What happened is that I learned how t make pitas- here is how, if you are interested, -but then I thought, hey, I really want naan, so what if I just try making them in a frying pan, like rotis and tortillas, and see if it flies.

This makes 10-12 naan about 8-10 inches long. Ample for 4 people. First, make a regular yeast dough. Spelt is really better for you- it is less inflammatory, and it is not so boring and white like plain flour, but also not so strong flavored and brown as some whole wheat.

1 1/4 c. water

1/2 tsp rapid rise yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

3 c. spelt flour- or any flour really

If you are using a bread machine, and here is my big thumbs up on that- set it at the dough setting, make sure your dough ball is forming well, and go do something else until about 30 minutes before dinner is ready. I use less yeast and let it take longer so you get a nicer flavor. You can also do this in advance and keep it in the fridge until an hour or so before you want it, so it will be soft and room temperature.

If you are making it by hand, if using rapid rise yeast, just mix it with the flour, and if not, dissolve beforehand in the water, add a tsp of sugar or honey to feed it, let sit a few minutes. Make a well in the flour, pour in liquids, stir, knead into a ball, knead until elastic and stops sticking. Take out your agressions. Let it sit until about double in size.

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Prepare balls of yeast dough on a plate.

Either way, start a high flame under a good sized frying pan- ideally a heavy cast iron one. Melt a few tablespoons of butter and grab a basting brush, if you will be buttering your naan.   Flour a board, shape it into a snake about 1 1/2 to 2 inches across, and with a sharp knife cut chunks to make little golf ball sized lumps. Roll them round with floured hands and lay them on a plate.

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flour your board and roll it out with a rolling pin

Flour your board just like you were going to roll out a pie crust, and roll them into thin oblongs. About an eight of an inch is good. They can be picked up without tearing. The shape is not critical.

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first side

Your pan will be really hot. No oil. Just throw the dough pancake down flat and smooth it a bit with your fingers if you have to. Wait and watch, but start rolling out another one. First it will make little bubbles, then big ones. After about 2 minutes it should be ready to flip. There should be nice little brown spots underneath, and the edge will be easy to grab so you can flip it. They can burn quickly once they have ballooned up since the dough is then dry and half as thick. Isn’t this cool? When done on both sides, put it in a bowl and cover it with two layers of cloth to keep it warm and steamy. Butter them as you go- it’s tasty, traditional, and keeps them soft the next day. Keep it going. You can see why a huge pan would be best, so you can get 2 going.

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second side

Serve in the covered bowl, or fold two on everyone’s plate and pass more as people run out. Of course what I did was just for us, but it lasted three meals. So yummy.

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yum

 

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