Life in a Northern Town

Naan- My New Favorite Thing

I've made peace with my rolling-pin and the world is my oyster. Okay, maybe not my oyster but definitely my pie crust, savory shortbread or naan. I planned a Moroccan meal, chicken b'stilla and all, but a crucial piece was missing— flat bread. If I still lived in St Paul, I would have hopped in my car, driven to Uptown and bought a couple of bags of fresh pita from Bill's Imports and secured the final component of my Moroccan feast. Four hours is too long to drive for pita so I looked up a recipe for naan, grabbed my rolling-pin and I made the final component for my Moroccan dinner. Necessity is the mother of invention, or in this case, bread making.

It was way, way easier than I thought. The dough can get sticky (with the egg and yogurt) so make sure you have extra flour on hand when you roll it out. Other than that, you can free form the naan into whatever shape strikes your fancy, throw it on the grill pan, cover it and within 5 minutes, you have the best piece of warm flat bread just waiting to be eaten. Good things happen when you overcome your fear of rolling pins, I'm living proof.

Indian Naan(Adapted from The New York Times & Bukhara Grill)

2 1/2 tsp dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting and rolling
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp whole milk
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil, more for the bowl
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced

Dough Preparation
Place the sugar, yeast, and 1/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 °F) in a small bowl and let sit 5 to 10 minutes until it becomes foamy. Put the flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with a dough blade or a mixer bowl with the dough hook and blend. Pour the yeast mixture, milk, yogurt, egg, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 1 1/4 cup warm water into the bowl and knead until the dough forms a ball that is smooth and elastic (about 2-3 minutes in a processor or 5-8 minutes in a stand mixer). The dough should be soft without being sticky. If it’s sticky, add more flour. Put the dough in a lightly-oiled large bowl. Turn the dough around to coat oil on all sides and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour. Punch down the dough and cut it into 8 pieces. Roll them into balls and set on a floured baking sheet. Cover with damp kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size (about another hour).

Cook The Naan: Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the garlic and set aside. Roll the dough balls out on a floured work surface into a disk about 6 inches in diameter. Stretch one end to make an oblong teardrop shape. Repeat with remaining dough and cover with a damp cloth. Place your cast iron grill pan on the stove and heat over medium high heat. Lightly oil the grill pan. Place dough on grill pan and cover with the lid of a pan large enough to encompass the entire piece of naan. Grill until the bottom is browned and the top starts to puff and blister, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the naan over and grill, covered, until it's lightly browned, another 1 to 2 minutes. Brush the top with the garlic butter. Serve immediately or cool completely, cover and use within a couple of days.