#FirstOnTheFirst: Homemade Naan

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I’ve never met a bread I didn’t like.

While my palate could be much more refined than it is, there’s one thing that’s universal regardless of its cuisine of origin: bread. Flat or fluffy, soft or crunchy, bread in all its forms is wonderful.

homemade naan

Years ago, I took a History through Fiction course that focused on books set in Eastern Asian countries. The concept was simple: learn a little bit about a culture by the books set in and written by authors who have lived it. Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel, Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An) (Detective Stories)The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Penguin Classics), and A Passage to India were just a few of the works we read. The instructor, a former member of the CIA, always had the best stories to tell. Because of her, I came very close to minoring in Asian Studies. What would I have done with that? I’m not sure. But she captured my interest and had me wanting to know more. It wasn’t just the content–it was her teaching style that attracted me. I enjoyed every minute in her classes.

But back to the History through Fiction course. This was a night class at a regional campus for UCONN and, as such, took place right around dinner time. Our teacher thought it would be fun if we had an Asian-themed meal during one of the classes. This was before the explosion of options came to my town–no Thai, no Hibachi, and definitely no sushi. No Indian food either. If you wanted pizza or pasta, you could toss a stone and find a place to go, but there wasn’t a whole lot else to pick from. The idea of eating something other than Chinese take-out seemed quite exotic. And a little scary.

homemade naan

The class voted and chose Indian for our meal, which had to be retrieved 30 minutes away. (See! I told you! We were a barren wasteland then!) I had never seen Indian food before, so I had no idea what to expect. And, to be honest, I have no idea what I ate. The colors and aromas all mixed together in my memory. But I did learn one thing–naan is awesome. That night, I became addicted to it. And many years later, when I discovered it was available in the grocery store for enjoyment at home, I thought I had struck gold. Woohoo! It has become the base of many lunches and dinners (and breakfasts and snacks) ever since.

Like most other things, making naan at home is much more economical than buying it at the store. I managed 10 flatbreads with this recipe and it probably cost me no more than $2 to make. Hard to argue with that kind of value! They freeze well for later use and are great to have on hand for quick pizzas, sandwiches, dipping in hummus, and just plain eating. There isn’t a lot of active work involved, just some waiting for the dough to rise and then standing at the stove when cooking them off. It’s easy enough that I’ll probably show my nearly-9-year-old how to make them soon. She’s looking forward to it!

First on the First Homemade Naan

These ladies also took on the naan challenge this month:

I cannot wait to see their results! As always, I’m eternally grateful for those who take part in these challenges with me. It’s always more fun when you can share something new with great friends!

Next month’s First on the First challenge will be Mille-Feuille

Also known as Napoleons, these are little pastries that consists of layers of puff pastry and pastry cream and/or fruit. They’re delicate and delightful and I’m really looking forward to tackling them! Please do come back on May 1st to see how they worked out!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Naan
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup hot tap water (you don’t really want it above 100 degrees Fahrenheit or you’ll kill the yeast)
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour, plus more for the work area
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup warm whole milk (again, not really above 100 degrees Fahrenheit; a quick hit in the microwave should be sufficient)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used Stonyfield Organic Smooth & Creamy Whole Milk Plain yogurt)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the water and sugar, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Add the yeast, stir, and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl or 4-cup measuring cup, combine the milk and yogurt. Once the yeast mixture is frothy, stir it into the milk/yogurt, then add to the dry ingredients.
  5. Turn the mixer on to speed 2, mix and then knead the dough for 5 or so minutes, until you get a smooth yet somewhat sticky dough. (You can add flour 1 Tablespoon at a time if, after kneading for a few minutes, it’s too sticky that it won’t clear the sides of the bowl, but the dough should still be stuck to the bottom of it; if it’s too dry to come together, you can add more warm water 1 Tablespoon at a time–try not to do these unless absolutely necessary, as they can throw off the balance and mess up the dough.)
  6. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, transfer the dough ball to it, cover with plastic wrap, and set somewhere warm for 1½ hours (I usually set my oven to the lowest temperature then shut it off once it reaches that, so it’ll hold some warmth for proofing without being too warm).
  7. Once the hour and a half has passed, flour your work surface well and transfer the dough to it. Cut into 10 equal portions then let sit for 30 minutes so the dough can rest and relax the gluten a little.
  8. Melt the butter and get out a pastry brush.Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  9. Roll out the portioned out dough to ovals/circles roughly the size of your skillet.
  10. Brush the tops with melted butter.
  11. Place 1 in the preheated skillet, butter side down, then brush butter on the top.
  12. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the edges are dry and the surface is bubbly.
  13. Flip and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes. When done, the bubbles will be browned but the rest of the naan will still be pale.
  14. Remove to a plate or wire rack to cool.
  15. Repeat with the rest of the naan.
  16. Naan can be stored in a large zip-top bag for up to 3 days or wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.

This recipe was adapted from food52.

Now that you have your naan, why don’t you make some onions and peppers naan pizzas…?

What’s your favorite Indian food?

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