8:36 AM EST
Naan | नान
While living on an ashram in Rishikesh, India in the early 90s I learned many things. For example, Guru Sri Sri Bimpalasi has wondering hands and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t yoga he was practicing with that young German devotee. Between the chanting, fasting and the heroin-fueled orgies my memories from this chapter in my life are, well, a little hazy. However, as the apprentice baker and yoghurt maker I do remember the recipe for naan quite well.
Naan, the classic Indian flatbread has variations throughout Asia. I even had “nan” in Kazakhstan. They are typically baked in very hot clay ovens (tandoors) and finished with a kiss of clarified butter (ghee).
Similar to my recipe for pizza, to create restaurant-quality naan at home you’ll need to set your oven to its highest temperature. Naan variations abound: add garlic to make lasooni naan or try a Kashmiri specialty by incorporating almond paste, cashews, pistachios, coconut and dried apricots and cherries.
• 1 (0.25 oz) package active dry yeast
• 1 cup warm water
• 1/4 cup white sugar
• 3 tablespoons milk
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 4 ½ cups bread flour
• 2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
• 1/4 cup butter or ghee, melted
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. After about an hour the dough should double in volume.
Once doubled, punch down dough and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow the baby naans to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. I KNOW YOU WANT TO EAT YOUR CURRY BUT BE PATIENT!
Preheat the oven to its highest temperature with your heaviest baking tray inside.
One at a time, roll balls into a tear-shaped naan, about 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. Keep remaining dough covered.
Remove the hot baking tray from the oven and slap the naan onto it. Really put some muscle into that slap! Immediately return the tray to the oven and bake for 3 minutes. Once the naan has begun to puff up place the baking tray under the broiler, about 3 or 4 inches away from the heat, for about 30 seconds or until the top of the naan browns slightly. Remove the naan from the oven and give them a light brush of ghee.
Make all the naan this way, covering the baked pieces with a clean tea towel to keep warm and soft.
Namaste, you beautiful creatures.