Sunday, 12 May 2013

Naan Bread

Naan Bread

Ingredients:

2 Teaspoons dry yeast
1 Cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
1-2 Teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups flour
about 1/2 cup melted butter
oil for frying, I used Canola because it has a high smoke point and it works well in cast iron

Instructions:

In a large bowl whisk the warm water, yeast and sugar or honey together and let sit in a warm draft free place for about 10 minutes or until it is light and frothy looking.

Using a wooden spoon stir in as much flour as you can to make a soft dough.  Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until a smooth and elastic dough ball is formed.

Grease the ball with olive oil and allow to rise until about double in size, which takes about an hour.

After an hour punch the dough down in the center to push out some air, and then allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Dough, especially a bread dough are finicky, they need some extra love and attention to come out perfect. Missing times by 10 minutes or so wont really affect the bread, but not letting it rest enough, or letting it over-proof (rise too long), or over kneading it, can all affect the final texture. It is a delicate art to learn what works for you, but it will come with practice.

After the dough has rested, divide it into 8 equal portions.  I did this by just dividing it into two, then each of those in two, and then once again dividing each into two. It worked out pretty well.  Gently cover with parchment paper and tea towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.  To get the most bubbles in the naan bread I suggest using a warmed oven for this step.

To get a perfectly warmed oven, set it to bake and turn it up to only about 200°F for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the oven off, open the door for 30 seconds and the oven is now a perfect place to let dough rise.  Another bonus is that ovens are generally a pretty draft free place, dough's enjoy being in a draft free place.

While the dough is rising for the final time it is time to prep the cast iron skillet for frying and melt the butter in a small bowl and set aside.  Get a basting brush ready.

Heat and oil the skillet, I let mine heat on just to the low side of medium (about a 4/10 heat level).

When the dough is ready to be cooked and the skillet is ready, roll each dough ball on a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick, and quickly place in the skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes.

Once the other side is nice and golden and starting to puff, just use a set of tongs and check how done the bottom is, when it looks right to you it's ready.

Quickly flip the naan over and brush melted butter on the cooked side and cook the bottom till it is also a nice golden color and looks right to you.  Transfer cooked naan to a just warmed oven and repeat the process until all the naan is cooked. Serve warm and as fresh as possible to really impress people.

Naan goes well with any curry dish, with salsa, with cheese, with hummus with anything really.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Indian food of any variety used to be rather terrifying to me. I never ate any curries growing up, never had naan bread and the only rice in my house was the 5 minute quick rice.  Which if you are a fan of rice you will know is barely rice at all.  But since I moved out on my own and met people who actually had interesting food experiences  better rice was first on their list of things I needed to fix, then just eat more interesting things.  Naan Bread and a nice red curry with some Basmati rice has quickly become one of my favorite week day suppers. Most grocery stores have a decent naan bread you can buy, but I like to at least try making everything from scratch once, and Naan bread was surprisingly easy, and the results were fantastic.  So get the rice cooker out and maybe start making some butter chicken because we're having Indian food tonight!

One last thing, This is recipe does kind of require a cast iron skillet, Naan bread is traditionally made in a stone oven, but since I didn't have a functioning stone oven in my apartment I had to make some changes.

Cast iron is best because it is so heavy that the whole bottom of the pan gets a nice even hot heat on the go, which helps the naan bread cook and puff properly.  If you don't have a cast iron skillet try using the heaviest bottom frying pan you have.

Need help with a cast iron skillet? Cast Iron Tips and Tricks are here!

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