April 28, 2009

naan wonderful

It started like this.

"What are you making?"

If I say 'naan,' he'll think I'm making curry to go with it. Choose your words carefully."Flatbread."

Two hours, 500 degrees, and one smoke alarm later...

"So, what is this again?"

"It's naan. And it was much more involved than I expected."

"Can I have some of that pawn?"

"It's NAAN."

"Can I have some of that non-pawn?"

I tell you what, life with Ryan is seldom without laughter. This whole thing started after I read this recipe for flatbreads with goat cheese and caramelized onions. Because I was able to work from home one afternoon--a luxury, I know--between checking files and proofreading, I started a batch of dough, following Mark Bittman's careful instructions. As I normally do, I failed to read the recipe all the way through to see exactly what my evening would entail. Naan is distinctive because it is normally baked in a tandoor--a clay oven. It's similar to pita, but is lighter and softer. It is leavened with yeast, and Bittman's recipe includes yogurt (which is a traditional ingredient). What's not traditional about his recipe, likely, is that he encourages the use of a food processor. Lucky for me, that's one of the many tools in my kitchen arsenal. Oh, I love you Cuisinart...

I'm not going to post the recipe here because I followed it step-by-step and made zero alterations. So you can check it out in Bittman's book, or you can do a quick Google for a similar recipe. I read a bunch of tips before I started, though, and can only tell you that this is a labor-intensive act of love.

In lieu of a clay oven, I used my oven and baking stone, heated to 500 degrees. That's HOT, folks. I had to drink a beer just to keep from melting in the kitchen. It was rough.

The end result was a happily golden (perhaps too golden) and chewy flatbread that made for the perfect snack, pizza base, and lunch addendum. More than one taste-tester of my naan made the comment that it "tasted like pizza dough." So maybe that's all it is--fancy pizza dough--but it made me crave dal and curry, which I have ever only had once in my life. I suppose it did the trick, eh? (Shout out to Claire and Aman!)

Here's the best part, though: I made 12 pieces of naan from things in my pantry, almost all of which was organic. At the grocery, a pack of two naan (naans? I'm not sure) runs over $3.50! Regardless of the time and effort that went into this flatbread, it was a money-saver (though I'm not going to factor in the cost of running the oven at 500 for an hour).

Absolutely something I'll make again, but will have to invite people over to enjoy it... Because after you pour so much sweat into a recipe... Um, nobody's gonna come over for naan now, are they? Oops.


jwood said...

I believe in making naan as well -- but I use a cast iron griddle pan (the flat side). Not quite as hot as using the oven perhaps. The same pan gets used for pancakes.

WhitneyB said...

I've never baked naan before. We've always just slapped the dough on the grill.