Before anyone thinks I´m taking this everything-must-be-homemade trend a bit too far, I need to clarify
that there are few Indian restaurants in Buenos Aires, non particularly cheap, so I don´t have Indian food delivered to my house, and I have never tried naan bread before. So, you should be warned that the shape and size of my bread will probably be off in
terms of what this bread is actually supposed to look like.
Having said that, I don´t care! The texture and taste of this bread simply blew me away and I think it took me an hour and a half to make it from start to finish, not bad at all when you want to compliment a great stew with something that does it justice.
I first searched in The Bread Baker´s Apprentice, but most breads there take two days to make (yes, I am being serious), so that wasn´t going to happen (I did make an remarkable bread from the book that I´ll share with you soon, but now let´s focus on the naan.)
I used melted butter to work the bread because nothing can beat a nice buttery flavor and I used chives instead of cilantro on top because that´s what I had, and I´m also not a fan of cilantro leaves (coriander seeds are a different story.)
There´s not much more to say except that you should really make this bread when you have the chance because it´s good on its own, with some humus or with anything really and you can heat it up in the toaster the next day or freeze it and have some in a few minutes whenever the mood strikes.
Naan bread (adapted from The Cook´s Book, recipe by Dan Lepard)
Yields 4 breads (I think I got 6 or 7… depends on the size)
2/3 cup (150cc) water at 72°F (22°C)
3/4 tsp (5g) compressed fresh yeast (I used around 1/3 tsp of dry yeast)
2 cups (250g) cake flour
3 1/2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt (I think sour cream would work as well here)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
sunflower oil, ghee or melted butter for kneading (I used melted butter because I love the flavor)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley, optional (I used chopped chives)
1. Pour water into a bowl. Whisk in the yeast, then add half the flour. Mix together with a fork, then cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
2. Stir in the yogurt, then add the rest of the flour, the salt, and baking powder. Mix together with your hands (or a spoon if you find it easier) into a soft, sticky ball. Spoon 2 tsp of oil, ghee or melted butter into the bowl and rub it over the top of the dough, then pick the dough up out of the bowl and roughly squeeze it once or twice. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and leave for 15 minutes.
3. Pour another 1 tsp oil, ghee or melted butter onto the dough and rub lightly all over, then turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Knead the dough lightly for 30 seconds, then return it to the bowl. Cover and leave for another 15 minutes.
4. By this time, the dough should be much smoother. Knead lightly on the oiled surface for a minutes, then divide into fourths (or sixths, or any number, it´ll depend on the surface or the wok or skillet you are using.) Dust with flour and leave for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a wok over medium heat (a nonstick skillet with a lid also works.)
5. Take one piece of dough and roll it out into a teardrop shape, dusting well with flour as you go. Try to get the dough quite thin, about 1/4in (3mm) if possible.
6. When the wok is very hot, gently lift the dough and lay it in the wok. Brush the surface of the dough with a little sunflower oil, ghee or melted butter (remember that the melted butter burns more easily, so you can use half melted butter and half oil to have a higher burning point) mixed with the herbs, if using (I added the herbs at the last minute because otherwise they would get burned). Place the lid on the wok and leave for 1 minute, while you roll out another piece of dough.
7. Check the naan. It should have risen slightly and blisters of air should be forming on the top surace. With tongs, lift the bread carefully at one end and look to see whether it has browned lightly underneath. If so, flip the naan over and cook for 1 minute longer.
8. When the naan is cooked on both sides, remove it from the wok. Keep wraped in a clean dish towel while you roll out and cook the remaining naan.
The baked naan freeze very well. Reheat, wrapped in foil, in the oven.