Bread is life, so they say. When we want to communicate with others and have long meaningful conversations, we call it “breaking bread” with someone. Bread, for many of us, is a staple we would rather never do without. It makes us feel whole; it makes us feel at peace, at home; that all is right with the world. There are few things in life that are as wonderful as a piece of hot bread, slathered with butter. And often, it doesn’t matter what type of bread — fluffy bread, flat breads, in between fluffy and flat, bread that’s soft on the inside and crusty on the outside, bread that’s soft all over. It’s all good.
Now I’m still learning to make bread. I have successfully made this one herb bread from A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook several times, but I still want to perfect it further. I have yet to figure out how to make my bread loaves come out with that perfect shape, but I have made tasty bread, even if it isn’t always the prettiest. I’ve tried several yeast roll recipes (and all the ones from my ex have failed miserably), and I’ve finally found one that comes out like those perfect rolls we used to get in elementary school lunches. Mmm. I have even successfully made flour tortillas from scratch. I have somewhat unsuccessfully made pita bread, but I’m going to work on that.
Naan isn’t much different than the pita, I don’t think, but the cooking method is different. Now I know that traditional naan isn’t cooked on a stove on a griddle like what I’ve got, and I was always worried that I’d have to either have a special grill or oven to cook it myself, or else I’d have to keep buying it from HEB, which is good, mind you, but it’s almost $3 for two naan. Then when I was searching for a recipe for this delicious bread, I saw that someone who posted a recipe had pictures of them cooking the naan in a cast iron skillet. Well, I have a few of those! THEN — I even saw someone cooking naan on an Imusa Double Burner with Non-Stick Surface — JUST LIKE MINE! Let me tell you, no kitchen should be without one of these. I can cook up to 6 decent sized pancakes at a time on this baby, and three flour tortillas, depending on the size of them! And the naan…ohhhhhhhh, the naan.
Well, let me get into the recipe and the pictures, and you can see for yourselves, hmm?
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 – 3/4 cup warm water
1/8 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp dry milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 – 1/2 cup flour
1-2 tsp minced garlic, optional
1/4 cup butter, melted
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let stand for about ten minutes, until frothy.
Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. THIS IS A VERY STICKY DOUGH! Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
Punch down dough and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls and place on a tray. Again, this is a very sticky dough, so don’t be upset if it doesn’t roll into perfect balls. Mine didn’t. At all. Not even close. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
During the second rising, heat grill to high heat.
At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Mine didn’t exactly do this. I sort of stretched the dough into elongated shapes that attempted to be “circles,” but they sure as hell weren’t. Still, I wasn’t going to give up because dammit, I wanted naan to go with dinner! Lightly oil grill. I essentially sprayed my griddle with the HEB version of Pam as I do when I’m making pancakes. Place dough on grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.
This first attempt — and I do mean first of thousands — didn’t come out great looking, but it tasted perfect. Buttery, garlicky, soft-doughy flat bread goodness that really brings a person home. I suspect that the more I make this, the more methods I’ll figure out toward getting a better “roundish” shape. I can say that the journey toward that will be damned fine and tasty!
Tonight, I made these to accompany chicken tikka masala (which I thought I had posted to Geek Girl, but that was chicken vindaloo — note to self: make chicken tikka masala and post to Geek Girl), and jasmine rice. I even made a pot of Moroccan tea, which I was taught to make with Assam black tea, spearmint, sugar, and boiling water. Very tasty!