The first post of the blog, how exciting! To let you readers know a little bit about us, our names are Leah and Kai, and we are two college students who are roommates and love to cook and bake. Being college students, we have very limited kitchen gadgetry (our tiny George Forman Grill is arguably one of the fanciest appliances in our kitchen) and have a very small budget for ingredients. That said, the recipes we post will hopefully be fun and delicious on top of being very accessible! Throughout our posts we will offer little tricks we’ve picked up, so don’t fret if you are new to exploratory cooking!
My accomplice (I love that word) is currently living about an hour east of me for the summer, and while we see each other frequently enough, we will likely be posting separately until we are reunited at the beginning of the school year. This means that I was on my own for my first foray into cooking for the blog! I decided I wanted to do something simple and unusual so I decided to make naan! Ok, ok… it was actually Leah’s idea.
Anyway, I found the recipe off of allrecipes.com and tried to incorporate a bunch of the suggestions from the reviews. For those of you who recognize the name but can’t place the food, naan is a light and fluffy South Asian flatbread. If you’ve ever gone out for an adventurous meal at an Indian cuisine restaurant you have probably ordered a side of this delightful bread. Fresh, homemade naan is about as good as it gets! I added the baking powder with the hopes that it would help create a lighter and more airy naan, but it is completely optional.
Without further ado, the recipe!
1 Packet of dry activated yeast (.25 oz)
1 Cup of warm water
3 Tablespoons of milk
¼ Cup of sugar (stick with your regular granulated)
1 Teaspoon of baking powder
4 ½ Cups of flour (I used all-purpose, though I am sure you could substitute other flours like whole wheat for a heavier and heartier naan)
1 Clove of garlic
1 Tablespoon of butter (I always use unsalted)
Even though it is a flatbread, the dough follows your general bread pattern so skip over the in-depth instructions if you are familiar with the lovely gluten wonders, bread. Add the packet of yeast to the warm water (it is very important the water is warm and not hot otherwise you risk killing the yeast, somewhere between lukewarm and uncomfortably warm). Be sure to add in a tablespoon of the sugar to the mix so the yeast has something to begin processing. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes or until it looks kinda frothy and gross on top. This is called proofing and it ensures the yeast is ready to start doing its magic on the dough.
When that is all set, mix your new yeast latté with the rest of the sugar, milk, egg, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Start adding flour by the cup while mixing and slow down when it starts to loose its stickyness and gets a tacky texture. I recommend mixing with a large wooden spoon unless you want a big doughy glove (it is grosser than it sounds… at least I think so). When that is all set you want to knead the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface. The ideal surface is just tall enough so you can comfortably extend your arms straight from a standing position. Kneading is a fantastic way to take out your stress (think punching bag except you get to eat it in the end) and can be a small workout. You will want to take your ball of dough and smash it down with your palms, using your body weight to squish it. Fold the far edge back over the rest and rotate the mass a little to give the dough an even work out. This should go on for about 8 minutes, adding just a tablespoon of flour at a time if it still feels too tacky. You are going for a soft (not dry) texture that is fun to poke. Proper kneading is necessary to make sure the ingredients are all well incorporated (ie. You don’t find pockets of flour or salt when eating your bread, and so the bread
When you’ve had your fill of poking the dough (I told you it was fun!) drop it in a bowl that has been greased with vegetable or canola oil (I think they are pretty much the same thing). Pat the topside with a little more oil and roll it over to make sure all the sides have been nicely slicked up. This makes sure the dough doesn’t get caught on the sides when rising and keeps the dough moist. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. A nifty trick that I learned was to microwave a cup of water till it was hot, then place the bowl of dough in the micro with it and close the door. This creates a relaxing spa for the dough to really get it rising, the moisture keeps the dough from drying and the heat helps the yeast become more active. Just be sure not to turn on the microwave with your dough still inside!
After your dough has doubled, punch it down a few times (it’s sad after all the rising that you waited for, but it is necessary!). Make the dough into as many tennis ball sized pieces as it will make, then cover with a towel and let it rise for another 30 minutes. The whole process feels pretty long, but it makes about 8 large naan. If that much bread seems too daunting, you can also wrap some dough in clingwrap and freeze it for later.
While that is going on melt your butter in a small container, chop up your clove of garlic, and then add the garlic to the butter (it should sit in there for at least 10 minutes). You are also going to want to start heating up whatever you plan to cook it on. I recommend you use a grill on medium-low heat (I used our fancy George Forman Grill with the lid left open), but you would probably be ok using a skillet on the stove. Roll out your balls till they are thin (1/8 inch or a little thinner?) and plop them on your cooking surface. Brush the topside with the butter-garlic mixture and after about 2 minutes flip the naan and brush the other side. After about 2-3 more minutes take your naan off and enjoy!
Also please ignore my use of paper towel for brushing the butter; I did mention we had very limited kitchen tools.
Thank you for reading our blog! I know the first post was long and dry, but I promise Leah’s writing will be better and that maybe I’ll pick up her wit…