Fresh Naan Bread: A Snap- Who Knew?

Making homemade naan

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.

making naan

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.

Making homemade naan

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.

Making homemade naan

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.

Making homemade naan

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.

Making homemade naan

yum

 

Best Yummy Venison Curry, garam!

Delicious Venison Curry

Sorry about the photo- we ate so much of it!

Not that I was getting tired of making our deer meat into my Granny’s fabulous Chili con Carne or my mother’s velvety Hungarian Goulasch, but I just had a yen for curry- Curry Goat, Lamb Vindaloo- so why not try something like that with venison?  Having been to India twice and gotten a serious Aunty Manjula YouTube addiction I felt equal to winging it. It came out very well- looks like lamb vindaloo, with the slightly softer texture of venison, with a complex fragrance, just the right heat for us- just short of pain, and leaves a gentle warmth in your stomach, as if the ginger is helping your digestion.

In following this recipe don’t just dump the ingredients in the pot as you read them off. Do follow the traditional steps. It makes a world of difference in the flavor.

You will need:

A big heavy pot with a lid

1 quart-sized freezer bag of venison stewing chunks.

11/2 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon mustard seeds ( I have substituted any brassica seed)

2 tablespoons butter, coconut oil, or other healthy fat.

1 onion, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped bite sized

3 potatoes, peeled and chopped bite sized

a knob of ginger root about the size of a walnut

4 big cloves of garlic

4 dried chilies, cayenne type (reduce if you can’t take heat)

1 tablespoon cardamom pods

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 inch of cinnamon stick

2 tablespoons turmeric powder

1 tomato or 4 tablespoons tomato sauce

Water to cover

salt to taste

OK, put the coriander seeds, which you can save from when your cilantro bolts, in the coffee grinder with the peppercorns, the cinnamon bark(break it up with your fingers first), the cardamon pods, and the dry chilies. If you feel the chilies are not really brittle, you should toast them briefly in your dry pot, without turning your back. (This is a nice extra step, and you should learn how fast chilies toast, because you can make your own chili powder. ) Powder your spices finely, and transfer them to your blender or small chopper. Add the garlic, ginger root, and turmeric, and whiz to a coarse paste. BTW if you don’t have dry chilies, I have added fresh ones to the garlic, ginger, etc. and it was great. Slightly different.

Put the cumin seed and mustard seed in the pot dry and toast them on a medium flame until the mustard seeds start popping.  Add the paste and 2 tablespoons butter or oil. I have used half and half coconut oil and butter. Stir over medium heat until it smells delicious- maybe 3-4 minutes. Compliments will be pouring in. Add onions and carrots and continue to stir so the mixture doesn’t burn but the onions are softened and the sugars are caramelizing a little. Add the meat and stir until the juices that come out of the meat have evaporated and the meat is brown- you won’t really be able to get it brown without burning so- well, gray is fine. Just don’t let it burn. Add a lot of water to cover, tomato, and maybe a 1/2 tsp salt to start with. Simmer covered 30-40 minutes -until the meat is tender, add the potatoes- just sort of tuck them in and submerge them well, then remove the lid and let it cook down until the broth turns into a thick gravy. Be especially careful towards the end that it doesn’t scorch on the bottom. Check the seasonings at this stage. It should be nice and spicy. See if it needs another pinch of garam masala. Many Indian recipes use garam masala at the end, and it is a nice, sweet/spicy rich flavor which adds to the complexity.

It goes well with with Basmati rice, a creamy sour element (raita), a sweet fruity element( chutney), and in our house, steamed greens. Last time I put some very thick Kefir on the table, which substituted nicely for raita. I should have taken a flashlight to the garden for cilantro but I got lazy. Fresh mango or peach or melon chutney is great, but it is winter and I didn’t have any. I think we need to try something with watermelon pickle.

And of course Kingfisher beer!