Sunday, June 27, 2010

Naans Anyone?

Hot, crusty and just a little soft, I have discovered the delights of naans, freshly baked at home. The dough is flexible and forgiving, the recipe similar to that of fatless pizza dough. The preparation time minimal - after letting the dough rise for an hour or two (or overnight in the fridge) the baking takes just about ten or fifteen minutes in a very hot oven.

They're wonderful for breakfast, served with a dab of butter and a sprinkling of kalonji (onion seeds) or with cheese and olives (as we often had in Turkey). They're pleasant, warmed up as an accompaniment to soup and salad for a light lunch. And they're very handy for those Indian dinners where one wants to provide fresh bread or rotis for several people but doesn't want to spend hours at the stove.

I make mine with a lightly fermented dough - a slightly yeasted mix of flour and whole wheat flour, roll it and then pat it into a large thinnish rectangle, top it with dried spices or herbs of my choice (chives are very nice and so are poppy seeds)and bake it at the bottom shelf of my oven set to the highest temperature (450 or 500 F). The baking tray doesn't even need to be buttered. It's the closest one can get to replicating a wood fired oven or a tandoor - those large round, clay ovens that all homes in the north had at one time for making delicious rotis, grilling meat and vegetables and simmering dals.

It's substantial enough for breakfast without containing the oil that traditional Indian breakfast breads do and tasty enough to be eaten with just a little something on the side. Addictive and yummy!

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