Anyone who knows me (or has taken a peek at this blog) knows that I have no special talent when it comes to making dough. At all. I actually believe this is a talent that you are born with, like eye colour and the ability to curl your tongue. Forget learned behaviour, a bad dough-maker will never learn.
But, that doesn’t stop me from trying. I think I’m on to something with un-leavened breads – I have greater faith in a dough that doesn’t have to rise! So I took my chances with this homemade naan bread, with surprisingly delicious results. I made these to go with one of my favourite dishes, an easy throw-together chickpea curry that reminds me of cheap curry dishes found in English pubs (yum!)
The recipe is lifted from the Pick Up The Fork blog; the curry is entirely my own creation.
To get started with the curry, you can pull out a bunch of pantry staples. If curry paste, chick peas and chili-garlic sauce are not pantry staples for you, they really should be. Every time I’m at the grocery store, these are things I pile into my shopping cart.
So, this recipe is as easy as anything. I start by sauteing some garlic in a pan with olive oil, then adding a chopped tomato or two. Once that’s all heated up, throw in a can of drained and rinsed chick peas, cooking over medium-high heat for about five minutes. I usually just eyeball the sauce, but I’d say throw in about 1/2 cup of curry paste and 1 cup of plain yogurt (I usually avoid Greek yogurt for this, as it can thicken up too quickly). My favourite curry is Patak’s Madras Curry Paste, but I still experiment and so should you. Stir everything into the chick peas and add a tbsp of Sambal Oelek (or your favourite chili sauce).
Now, if you have fresh cilantro in your fridge, throw some of that in there before serving. I will also sometimes add a 1/2 cup of chopped fresh spinach; however, this doesn’t keep as well as the rest of the dish, so keep that in mind if you were planning on leftovers for this.
If, like me, you’re often missing fresh ingredients in the fridge, no worries, tart this up with other spices. A dash of garam masala always goes over well, or cumin. My personal favourite I usually add is a 1/2 tsp of nutmeg – adds a bit of warmth to the flavours.
The dish is spicy, but usually not overwhelmingly so. I usually add extra sambal oelek to the dish after I’ve served everyone. For those who appreciate milder tastes, just keep the yogurt next to you and add a little bit to calm things down.
Homemade Naan Bread
Adapted from Indian Simmer on Tasty Kitchen
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- ¾ teaspoons Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoons Sugar
- ¼ teaspoons Salt
- ½ cups Warm Milk
- ½ cups Warm Plain Yogurt
- Optional Toppings: Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, Ginger, Green Onions, Cilantro, Butter etc.
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
2. Mix milk and yogurt together, warm up in the microwave if it’s coming directly from the fridge and pour half of it into the dry bowl and slowly combine it together with a spoon.
*Note from the original recipe: I don’t think there’s an exact amount of liquid that should be added to the exact amount of flour to make a perfect dough. So what I do is continue adding liquid slowly and combining it all together slowly until a soft dough is made. The dough should be soft enough for you to be able to dig your finger into it without applying any pressure. If dough sticks to your hand too much, then use little bit of oil on your hands and then punch into the dough.
3. Cover with a damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
4. After two hours, flour work space and knead dough for about 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into smaller balls – depending how big you want your naans.
5. Flatten the balls to make bread that is a little thick and long, oval-shaped.
6. Brush one side with water.
7. Sprinkle the other side with flavor toppings.
8. Heat a cast iron (or thick bottomed skillet or wok). Once it’s very hot, place naan wet side down (it will stick) and cover with a lid.
9. Let it cook for about a minute – or until you see bubbles. Now flip over for about 30 seconds. You can also hold it directly over the burner with tongs. Once it’s charred in some spots, it’s done.
I started to mix everything together, and for once things seemed to be going well. Maybe a little bit sticky, but since I usually can’t get a dough to stick together to save my life, I was going to go with it. By the time I was leaving the dough to sit, things were looking okay.
And two hours later – things were looking even better! Probably because the whole point is the dough wasn’t supposed to rise. Awesome, time to pound out some naan balls and season them. This was the most fun part. I used garlic on some, zaatar on others and garam masala on the last few.
I didn’t trust this whole “watering” the backs of the bread, but I went with it. Without a cast-iron pan, I did oil down the pan before throwing the naan in – which I would recommend. They bubbled up deliciously and were ready to eat before you knew it. I threw on some butter and cilantro to add to the spices.
Word of the day:
Epicurean: fond of or adapted to luxury or indulgence in sensual pleasures; having luxurious tastes or habits, especially in eating and drinking.