Well, since you can't have any sort of Indian food without Naan (at least according to my husband), I found myself making it last week. I was thisclose to going to the store to look for it, but I had to do the pep talk again and convince myself to at least try it. Thankfully, that handy Best International Recipe cookbook I found at the library had a great section on Naan with detailed instructions.
Have you ever just wanted to keep something you checked out from the library and hope they don't notice? Well, that's how I feel about this cookbook. It's a huge, hardcover book that has $35 printed on the inside flap. A bit pricey for a cookbook, but maybe I could put it on a birthday list. Until then, I'll keep renewing it until I max out the limit. Hopefully no one else in my county wants this book. If so, too bad-so sad, it's gonna be at my house for a while.
But back to this fabulous Naan. If you haven't ever had the pleasure of trying it, think pita bread, only more yummy. Naan is soft, but chewy, and is great for tearing into small sections and dipping it into stews or using it to soak up sauces (like the masala sauce). Or, you can just eat it plain, because it's reeeally good.
You start with a great dough comprised of a combination of flours. The recipe says to use bread flour, though I substituted all-purpose and it was fine. To that, you add a bit of whole wheat flour to give it that slight wheaty flavor. And what's really unique about this is the addition of the plain yogurt. The ingredients are all mixed together in a stand mixer and the dough rises for about 45 minutes. After it's risen, it can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days - a great make-ahead tip.
The dough is then cut into eight pieces and shaped into balls.
Then roll each piece into a small circle. This is the slightly hard part, unless you're really good with the rolling pin.
Here they are being cooked on the stovetop - incredibly easy. As you can see, mine weren't perfect circles. I was going for a rustic look.
Once cooked, transfer them to a wire rack to cool, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with some salt. Wow. Yum.
Indian-Style Flatbread (Naan)
(from Cook's Illustrated's Best International Recipe)
2 and 1/2 cups (13 and 3/4 ozs.) bread flour, plus extra as needed
1/4 cup (1 and 3/8 ozs.) whole wheat flour, sifted before measuring to remove coarse flakes of bran
1 package (about 2 and 1/4 tsp.) instant or rapid rise yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup water, at room temperature
1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for the bowl
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1. Combine the flours, yeast, sugar, and 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix with the paddle attachment until blended, about 15 seconds. Add the water, yogurt, and olive oil and mix on low speed until a shaggy dough forms, about 30 seconds.
2. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead the dough on medium speed until smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes, adding additional bread flour in 1 Tbsp. increments, allowing 20 seconds between each addition, as needed for the dough to clear the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and lightly knead by hand for 1 minute.
3. Shape the dough into a large ball, transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a draft-free spot until the dough has doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (At this point, the dough can be lightly punched down, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
4. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, cut into 8 equal portions, and roll each portion into a round ball. Set the balls aside on the counter (or a baking sheet), cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes.
5. Working with 1 ball of dough at a time, lay on a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 6-inch circle using a rolling pin (if the dough is sticky, sprinkle very lightly with flour). If using the sesame seeds, brush the tops of the dough rounds lightly with water, sprinkle each with 1 tsp. seeds, and gently roll over with a rolling pin once or twice so the seeds adhere to the dough. Set the rounds aside on the floured counter (or a floured baking sheet) and cover with greased plastic wrap.
6. Heat a heavy 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until hot, 5 minutes. (If using a lighter pan, heat for only 2 to 3 minutes.) Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, lift the dough and gently stretch about 1 inch larger, and lay it in the skillet. Cook until small bubbles appear on the surface of the dough, about 30 seconds. Flip the bread and continute to cook until the bottom is speckled and deep golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Flip the bread over again and cook until the bottom is speckled and deep golden brown in spots, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
7. Transfer the bread to a wire rack, brush lightly with butter, season with salt, and let cool for about 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds. Wrap the breads loosely in a clean kitchen towel and serve immediately. (The bread can be wrapped in foil and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. Reheat in a 300-degree oven until warm, about 15 minutes.)
Makes 8 rounds.