Sunday, May 17, 2009

Naan flatbread, without a Tandoori Oven

Again, I'll explain I am not of Indian descent, nor am I an expert of the cuisine (by ANY means)~ but I adore naan, the delicious, slightly chewy, teardrop shaped bread used to scoop stews and the like.

Authentic naan is baked by literally throwing the flattened bread dough against the hot, vertical oven walls of a traditional Tandoori oven. I have no such Tandoori oven, but one of my sister-in-laws taught me this method which works remarkably well. It's a simple recipe, I urge you to try it to see how easy and delcious it is.

You can make the dough by hand, ( I never have made this recipe by hand), rather I just use the dough cycle of my bread machine, then form the dough, season with the topping and bake.

Naan Flatbread ~ Without a Tandoori oven

Makes 5 pieces of flatbread

Note: I use a kitchen scale for accuracy, so I've listed the amounts in ounces. I haven't tried to convert to cups, but I'll attempt to do so soon.

9-ounces (or 250 ml) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

4.5 fluid ounces milk (or 110 to 130 ml)

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 Tablespoons melted butter (for serving)

Optional toppings: minced garlic, chopped scallions/green onions (my favorite), sesame seeds, chopped fresh cilantro/coriander, poppy seeds, etc.

To make dough in bread machine: Place ingredients (except melted butter and optional toppings) in bread machine pan, select dough setting, allow cycle to run, then shape dough and bake.

To make dough by hand: Sift dry ingredients in a large bowl, gradually add in wet ingredients (the milk and oil), until blended. Knead by hand for 8 to 10 minutes until a smooth, soft dough has formed. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and allow to rest in a warm place for about an hour. Then shape and bake as below.

To shape and bake the dough:

Press any air out of the dough and cut into 5 equal pieces. Dust the rolling surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll each piece out, one at a time, into a thin, teardrop shape about 6-inches by 8-inches.

If you would like to add toppings, firmly press them in to the top surface of the dough with your fingers.

To bake: The bread is actually "baked" under the broiler element of your oven, which simulates the heat of a Tandoori oven.

Place an inverted (bottom side up), heavy duty baking sheet* on the top rack of oven, and adjust oven to "broil". Allow pan to heat until hot. Carefully place one or two naan on the hot sheet, and return to the broiler, watching carefully as they puff slightly and bake. Note! They bake in one or two minutes, so watch very carefully. Remove from pan, brush with butter if desired, and keep warm; repeat with remaining dough.

* I have not used the baking pan method here, instead I use the flat side of my cast iron, rectangular lodge grill to bake the naan. I preheat it under the hot broiler for about 5 minutes and have found this gives perfect results.

If you try this recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.