Let’s take a little Journey and learn about Naan. 😉 (Come on, how many of you got my little punny? Let’s see a show of hands!)
As Wikipedia tells us:
The earliest appearance of “nan” in English literature dates back to 1180, viz. in a travelogue of William Tooke. The original Persian word nān ‘bread’ (= Tajik non (нон)) is already attested in Middle-Persian / Pahlavi as n’n ‘bread, food’. The form itself is either of Iranian or Indian origin; cognate forms include Parthian ngn, Balochi nagan, Sogdian nγn-, Pashto nəγan – “bread”.The form naan has a widespread distribution, having been borrowed in a range of languages spoken in central Asia, also in South Asia, i.e., present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the surrounding regions. In these countries and regions, the generic designation “naan” refers to a kind of (in most cases) flatbread, baked according to locally adapted recipes. The spelling naan is first attested in 1979, and has since become the normal English spelling.
Inspired by a little Cooking & Baking with Greek Yogurt magazine booklet I have, I’ve tried making Naan a few times. As the old saying goes, the third time was a charm, as I finally made Naan in the smaller quantity I wanted (the original recipe made 6 large naan, or 12 servings) and it had the texture and flavor I wanted.
The recipe in the cook booklet says to place the Naan onto a grill or baking stone and to grill, covered, or bake. I decided to cook mine uncovered on my griddle, rather like I do tortillas, but a non-stick skillet work would, also. I’m very partial to Stonyfield Fat-Free Greek Yogurt, but you can use another brand if you prefer.
I eyeballed the amount of yogurt, and just added in enough water to make the dough soft and pliable. On my third round of making this recipe, I used more yogurt and a bit more water than what the original recipe called for (I often end up adding in more liquid to bread recipes), and I finally got the nice texture I was after. 🙂 It made a delicious accompaniment to my Cousin David’s Chicken Curry and reheated well in the microwave.
So the next time you’re craving some Naan, instead of buying some at the store, take a little Journey with me and make some at home — it tastes as yummy as it smells! (Go on, take not quite five minutes from your day and enjoy this glorious song by Journey — you know you want to!)
Naan (Makes 4 servings; you can easily multiply the recipe to make more)
- 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (NOTE: 1 packet of yeast has 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/3 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons warm water (warm from the tap)
- Up to 1/4 cup warm water (warm from the tap)
- 1 cup all purpose flour (plus some more for kneading)
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon poppy seeds or kalonji seeds (optional)
- 2 or 3 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt (I eyeballed it and just added in a couple of slightly heaping spoonfuls of yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon melted butter (plus more for brushing onto the naan)
NOTE: My little cook booklet tells us that “Kalonji seed is often called onion seed or black cumin seed. It is available in Indian markets and is traditional in some varieties of naan.”
1. In a medium-sized bowl, stir yeast and sugar into 2 tablespoons of warm water. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, until it’s foamy.
2. Stir in melted and cooled but still warm butter (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) and the yogurt in with the yeast mixture. (Remember, you can add in a bit more yogurt if needed, so start off with a heaping spoonful of yogurt, which will be about two tablespoons.) Stir flour, salt, and, if using, kalonji or poppy seeds into yeast/butter/yogurt mixture. Stir in warm water, a tablespoon at a time, and, if needed, another heaping spoonful of yogurt, until dough holds together well enough for kneading.
3. Knead on lightly floured board until dough is smooth and elastic. Shape dough into a ball and place in a bowl lightly oiled or sprayed with cooking spray, turning to oil top. Cover lightly with a lint-free (non-terry) towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled (1 1/2 to 2 hours).
4. Punch dough down and divide into 4 pieces. Shape into small balls and place on a lightly floured or lightly oiled (or sprayed with cooking spray) plate. Cover lightly with a lint-free towel and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Place each dough round on a lightly floured surface; roll and stretch into a thin (1/8″ to 1/4″) oval. Cook on pre-heated non-stick griddle or non-stick skillet until puffed and beginning to brown (2 to 4 minutes).
Turn, brush top lightly with butter, and cook the other side until lightly browned (2 or 3 minutes). Brush lightly again with butter, if desired.
6. Serve warm. Store cooled leftovers wrapped in a clean paper towel or lint-free cloth in a a sealed bag in refrigerator. To reheat, steam in microwave (wrap in a damp paper towel and reheat gently) or place in a dampened paper bag in an oven at 350F for about 5 minutes or so.