Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bread - Indian Garlic Naan

A few months ago, my wife and I had Indian food for the first time. We ate at this little strip-mall restaurant nearby. The server asked what we were ordering, and after we ordered (I had Chicken Ticca Masala) she asked if we would like some Naan with our dinner. Having never had Indian food, I wanted the whole experience, so we said yes and had what has to be the best bread I've ever had... until now.

Naan is typically served with Indian dishes like curries and tandoor cooked meats.

Since I don't have a tandoor on my back porch (I just have a glass door... tut tut tut), this is not 100% true to the source bonafide Naan. It is still Naan and still very very tasty. In order to replicate the intense dry heat of a tandoor, I placed a large heap of coals on my patio surrounding a dutch oven lid stand (3 bricks could be used, arranged radially) and placed a 12" dutch oven lid upside down on the lid stand. If I had a big gas stove, I would put the lid on the stove burner and crank it to high.


A few tips I learned-- The lid needs to be very very very hot, so I'd almost start a chimney just for the lid. I had about 12 coals for the lid and it started to cool down too much. I pulled some coals from my main dish and it worked out okay. The other thing, is that the Naan needs to be rolled very very very thin. The intense heat makes the bread rise a lot, so a dough that is 1/8 inch will rise to 1/2 inch really quick. Only do one Naan at a time, since the lid will stay hot better. When turning the bread, put it on new real estate so it stays scorching hot. I turned them with my hands, and got burned a few times. You might want a spatula that handles high heat.

Tools
12" dutch oven lid
lid stand

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4  cups bread flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

Mix yeast and warm water to activate yeast in a non reactive container. Mix sugar, milk, egg, and salt and beat with whisk. Add 3 cups flour and mix to a soft dough with a wooden spoon. Fill a 1 cup measuring cup with flour and toss half on a table. Knead until dough begins to become slightly more stiff than soft. This is the glutens dissolving. Don't knead to a windowpane as in other yeast breads. Kneading should only take 8 to 10 minutes. Stretch skin tight, form into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot. Let raise for an hour. Preheat a dutch oven lid suspended over hot coals with a lid stand. Punch down the dough and pull into a small balls, roll very flat with a greased rolling pin and top with garlic. Press the garlic into the dough and transfer to the hot lid garlic side down. Only cook one Naan at a time. Turn when the dough stops bubbling. Cook until browned on opposite side. Serve with melted butter.

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

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