One of favorite Indian foods has to be the naan. A flat, chewy teardrop shaped bread used to scoop up meat and stewed dishes. I watched Anjum make naan and realized that it’s fairly simple to replicate without a tandoori oven. She encourages adding different toppings to the bread, so I made a few naan with green onions and a couple with sesame seeds. The result? Pure happiness.
I used Anjum’s recipe as published on the BBC website. It uses only a few common ingredients and can be made from beginning to end in about 1-2 hours.
9 oz. flour (250 g)
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
4.5 fl. oz. milk (110-130ml)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons melted butter for serving
Topping suggestions: nigella seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, minced garlic, fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped green onions.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Make a small well in the middle of the flour mixture. Combine milk and oil, then pour into the center well.
Using your fingers (love this part), begin from the center and slowly make a circular motion. As you widen your circle, you will begin to add in more of the surrounding flour. Continue doing this until all of the flour is added and the dough begins to come together.
Once the dough begins to come together, remove from bowl and knead for 8-10 minutes until a soft dough forms. I kneaded and kneaded, started to break a sweat only to realize a mere 3 minutes had passed. There’s something to be said for making bread from scratch — you get to burn off calories while making it.
Place dough into a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Place into a warm location to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size. I preheated my oven to 200 degrees, then turned it off, thus creating a warm environment to stash my dough. I’ve never made a bread without yeast that needed to rise. To be honest, I don’t think mine doubled but it seemed a bit puffier and the consistency was very soft and smooth, so I proceeded.
After the dough has doubled, punch it down and cut into 5 pieces. Roll each piece thin and into an oblong teardrop shape. The dough is very soft and rolls easily, just remember to dust your surface with a bit of flour first. My naan came out to be about 8″ long by 6″ wide. Use your fingers to press any toppings into the rolled dough.
Turn on the broiler of your oven. Place a baking sheet on the top rack under the broiler to heat up. Once heated, take half of the rolled dough and carefully drop it onto the baking sheet and put under the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Watch it closely! My first batch got a bit too brown as it suddenly went from light to dark in a matter of seconds. Remove from oven and brush with plenty of melted butter. Repeat with remaining dough — makes 5 pieces.
Chewy, tender, slightly sweet and absolutely divine. I could have eaten all 5 pieces without any hesitation. I was surprised at just how simple it turned out to be. The effort is really only in the 10 minutes of kneading up front, otherwise you’re just waiting for it to rise. The bread is worth trying at home, especially when paired with a nice spicy curry.