I love Indian cuisine. I never tried making it myself until I met my friend Hamsika and her mother, Lalitha, and my friend Vani. They have given me so much encouragement, I find myself trying things I would never have attempted before. Although I still like it much better when they cook FOR me, it turns out they have their own lives and cannot quite manage to be at my beck and call.
I am slightly embarrassed to say that with all of the incredible dishes, my favorite Indian food is still naan. And in particular, I had a fruit and nut naan years ago that has stayed in my memory as the best ever. So when I saw a naan recipe cross my desk, it seemed like time!!
Naan is like a cross between pita bread and tortillas, easy to make, and so darned delicious. I know I am supposed to be using it as a base for other food, but really, I just like to eat it, sometimes with peanut butter or jam. I started with a basic recipe and then mangled it to suit myself. My alterations are in italics.
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water, room temperature
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat plain yogurt (I did not have yogurt, so I used sour cream)
Cooking oil, for the bowl
3 tablespoons poppy seeds (yuck, instead, I minced 1/2 cup of raisins and figs)
1 stick melted unsalted butter (I ended up using 1-1/2 sticks)
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
In a glass measuring cup, combine the yeast, sugar, and water and let sit for 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.
Whisk together the yeast mixture, yogurt, and milk, and stir into the dry ingredients. Add the minced raisins. Knead with your hands until the dough forms a smooth, soft ball, about 2 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours. (It is winter here, so I had to leave mine in the oven with the pilot light on)
Remove the dough from the bowl and turn onto a well-floured surface. Knead it briefly and divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll it into 1/4-inch thick ovals, approximately 6 inches wide.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over moderately high heat. (Yuck - no, I did not do this part: Sprinkle each portion with poppy seeds and press into dough). Brush with melted butter and place in skillet.
Cook for about one minute, until dough puffs up. Flip, cover pan, and cook for one more minute.
Remove from pan and brush both sides with butter (I also did not do this, because I like my naan a little sweet, not salty - and sprinkle with salt). Place in a towel-lined bowl until ready to serve.
(It is possible that I ate at least three of these as they came out of the skillet, despite the fact that one would have been more than enough. Also, I really really like these spread with a little orange marmalade, but that is not very Indian. I think I am having a turkey sandwich on one later, also not authentic, but quite delicious)