Sunday, August 1, 2010

Naan Bread

There is not a better accompaniment to lamb curry than naan. It gives a contrasting texture to the meal (cruncy, a little grilled flavor) and it's also the perfect tool to scoop up the leftover gravy from the curry.

Naan is a leavened (yeast) flatbread. It's similar to pita, and is traditionally cooked in a clay oven. When we make it, we do it over the grill so you still get some of that smoky "fired" taste. When made properly, it's light, chewy, and filling without being heavy. This recipe is easiest when made in a stand mixer; however, you could do it by hand. It will just take you a little longer.

In your mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour and one packet of yeast.

To the flour and yeast, add a cup of water. This is important--the water can't be too cold or your yeast won't bloom. But if it's too hot, your yeast will die and your dough won't rise. Water slightly warmer than your body temperature is perfect.

I also sprinkle some sugar over the top of the mixture.

Turn the mixer on to lightly combine.

While your yeast is waking up, grab a knife and cutting board and mince up some garlic.

Toss in the garlic, along with an egg, some milk, some olive oil, and some salt.

Beat everything together until you get a nice, sticky dough. 

Not quite...
Add the rest of the flour until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl and is firm and smooth.

Mmm. Here everything has come together into a nice piece of bread dough.

Shape the dough so the top is smooth. I like to pull the sides of the dough underneath.

Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl. Let it rise for a couple hours.

Here it is, all ready to be rolled out.

I like to grab a hunk of dough and form it into a ball.

I don't have a picture of the next step (the whole "needing two hands" thing, plus my husband was busy), but basically I like to pull the dough out a little bit and then roll it.

Roll the dough flat.

Then I like to use my hands to stretch it out again. I like the varied shapes and thicknesses I get by doing this. It ensures you get some chewy parts and some crispy parts.

You don't want to pile all the dough on top of each other, or it will stick. And if you use flour, the flour willl burn (and it will still stick a little anyway.) What I usually do is use plastic wrap that I've sprayed with nonstick spray. However, I discovered that we were out of plastic wrap, so I used that press and seal wrap instead.

It actually worked pretty well, but you have to spray every single part of it or it will stick to itself.

Continue piling the bread. Bread, wrap, bread, wrap.

Heat up your grill to medium. You could do this inside (I bet you could even do this on the stovetop) but I like the grilled flavor.

Brush the top of the naan with butter.

Flip the bread, buttered side down, onto the grill. This may take some practice, but keep at it, it will only get easier.

Mmm. Look at all those bubbles.

When the naan is grilled on one side, brush the uncooked side with butter and flip it over.

Serve with curry and basmati rice.

Recipe: Naan Bread
4 1/2 c. flour
1 package yeast

1 c. warm water

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 egg
3 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. butter, melted

Combine 2 c. flour and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add water, stir to combine.

Add garlic, egg, milk, oil, and salt. Beat until combined.

Gradually add in remaining flour. Beat until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Place dough in well-oiled bowl; cover and allow to rise.

Once dough is double in size, divide into 8 balls. Pull and roll balls into flat shape.

Butter one side and grill butter side down over medium heat.

Butter the other side; flip bread when the first side is done.

When naan is cooked, brush lightly with butter and serve.

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