Thursday, 24 February 2011

Naan bread

I mentioned on my other blog about running out of LPG and necessity being the mother of invention so last night I was still without a cooker. As supper time approached and I had left over dahl from the night before, I looked at the fire and contemplated the idea of cooking naan bread on it somehow. The germ of the idea had been sown by Chris Stovell of Home Thoughts Weekly who had suggested that the sloping lid of her wood burner would be possible for such a thing.

I consulted the internet for a recipe, read several and then made up my own. Cooking methods varied from frying to grilling. I think authentic naan is slapped on the inside of a melting hot tandoor oven and if my ship ever comes in I'm buying one of these. My sister-in-law used to live in a flat in High Wycombe and my big memory of visiting her in that flat is of the tantalising smell in the evenings of all the tandoors being fired up in neighbouring homes. The aroma of the spices, curried meat and bread carried on the warm evening air was mouth-wateringly delicious.

I used my trusty Kenwood for the mixing of the dough which was my basic foolproof white bread but with slight variations. It's about three cups of strong white bread flour, a good heaped teaspoon of dried quick mix yeast, a teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of plain yoghurt, a shy teaspoon of sugar, a handful of black onion seeds and enough warm milk (about two thirds of a cup) to make a soft dough. Knead for five minutes until smooth and then leave to rise in a warm place.

I then divided it into eight pieces, rolled them out into rough ovals and started them cooking on my cast iron griddle on top of the wood burner.

Four little naans in a row.
 It was hot but not nearly hot enough so (bearing in mind past experience of cooking flat breads, roti and chapattis) I grabbed the toasting fork, opened the wood burner and held the naan inside over the hot coals.

It immediately fluffed and puffed up into a very authentic looking naan bread. I was so surprised I nearly dropped it. I puled it out, ripped it open and tried it. Delicious, fluffy and unmistakably naan.

If you look closely at the one at the front on the left you can see the shape of the toasting fork.
I carried on with the other seven by which time my face was nearly melting from the heat and the dining room was like the inside of a pizza oven. Brian was stripping off layers of clothes (we're unaccustomed to warmth) and repeatedly mentioning that he was hungry (the house was full of the smell of naan bread).

It was delicious, everybody loved it and from now on I won't be buying any more naan bread. Who would have thought it could be this much fun to make? Like most other things it's nicer homemade and freshly baked too. I think I'll probably start it off on top of the stove though, I couldn't quite get the griddle hot enough on top of the wood burner, but I can see me fluffing it up on the toasting fork again - I think it was the aroma of wood smoke that really nailed the flavour.

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