Saturday, February 26, 2011

Naan, Delicious Bread from the East

Recently on Nutrimirror, Lynn Matava's  SERVING up a SMILE Tuesday column included a picture of spinach pizza on naan bread.  I have seen this picture on her blog, too, and  every time I see the picture I wish I was eating that spinach pizza.  Recently Greg and I were talking about naan bread and how good it is.  We said we should make our own; it's been ages since we've made bread.  And by we, of course, I mean me. 

When we got sober 19 1/2 years ago, I was at a loss for what to do with all this spare time I had, now that I wasn't at the Moose Lodge hammering down the Coors Lights all the time.  One Saturday I was reading the paper and came across a recipe for Cuban bread.  Why not? I thought.  So I made the recipe, and it was good as far as I know because at that point I had never had real Cuban bread.  I had so much fun making Cuban bread that I started making other breads.  My favorite thing to make was cloverleaf rolls.  After a couple of months, the bread frenzy died out.  A few years ago we were given a bread machine, so any time I've made bread it's been in the machine.  And I haven't even done that in years.

Anyway, so Tuesday I see that damn spinach naan pizza picture again, just a few days after talking about making naan, and that did it.  I went online and found a recipe for naan and today, I am making it as we speak!

Here is the recipe I used:  Naan Recipe.  And here it is in person for your convenience:
User Rating 4.5 Star Rating
By Saad Fayed, Guide

Naan is a flatbread found in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and other surrounding countries. Naan is served for dipping or stuffed with a variety of meats and vegetables. Topping can also be placed on top of the bread.   Naan is like pita, yet softer and most of the time larger. It can be frozen in freezer bags for up to 30 days.

10-12 servings.

• 1 package active dry yeast
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 3/4 cup warm water
• 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup ghee (see recipe below) or vegetable shortening
• 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
• melted butter for brushing


Measure 3/4 cups warm water in a measuring cup. Add sugar and yeast. Allow yeast to soften and stir until yeast is dissolved. Cover measuring cup with towel and allow yeast and water to froth for 5-10 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Add yeast water, yogurt, and ghee (or vegetable shortening)and begin to knead for 5-10 minutes until a dough forms.

Place dough in bowl coated with oil and turn dough around to evenly coat. Cover bowl with towel and allow to rise in a warm area for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled.

Preheat oven to 400. Divide dough into 10-12 pieces and roll out on floured surface into circles. Place rolled out dough on greased cookie sheet or baking stone and brush with melted butter.

Cook in oven for 8 minutes or until lightly browned and puffed up.

Serve naan immediately or store in pantry or freezer.

I got all the ingredients together, having decided to use Crisco instead of driving all over town looking for ghee (and I'm happy to say I did not get sidetracked into trying to make my own ghee).

I mixed together the warm water, sugar and yeast, then stirred until the yeast was dissolved.  Then it had to sit for 10 minutes with a towel over it, bubbling and brewing away.

Then it went into the mixer with the flour, salt, yogurt and Crisco.  The directions say to mix it until a dough forms, about 5-10 minutes. 

I'm not sure how to tell if naan dough is formed, but the way I figure, the ancient Middle Eastern women who invented naan didn't have a Kitchen Aid mixer and had to mix it by hand.  That must have taken forever.  So I used the full 10 minutes, sending mental kudos to the ancient women who really must have been wondering if all that mixing was going to make a good bread dough, the first time they did it.  Or she, who knows if it was one ancient woman or a whole group of them who cooked together.  Probably a group.  They threw out random ideas like "throw in 1/4 cup of ghee!" and mixed it all together and just gave it a shot.  GOOD JOB ANCIENT WOMEN!  I salute you!  You have to wonder where they got yeast, or how they invented ghee. 

When I dumped it into the oil-rubbed bowl, it was a goopy blob, kind of sticking together.  It looked like it would look if I were an ancient woman and had been mixing this goo by hand with a stick for the past 4 hours and decided it was as ready as it was gonna get.

Trying to roll it around so it got coated with oil on all sides was a joke.  I just kind of patted it together and rubbed the oil on top.  Then covered with a towel, and now it sits on my stovetop presumably doubling in size for an hour.

You know what really stinks?  By the time this naan is cooked and ready to eat, it will be way too late for lunch.  We are having ham, sweet potatoes and cauliflower for dinner so we'll have some naan with that, but where is my spinach naan pizza?  Lunch tomorrow, hopefully. HA!  If there's any naan left, that is.  Maybe we should have spinach pizza and ham, and save the cauliflower and sweet potatoes.  Yeah. 

It's been an hour now, and the dough is bigger but I'm not sure it's doubled.  I turned on the oven to preheat to 400 degrees, and will leave the dough sitting on top of the stove while that happens.

OK - oven is heated, here we go.  I dumped the dough out onto the floured counter.  It's very gooey and smells nice and yeasty.  Then I cut the dough into 12 pieces.

The instructions say to roll out the pieces into rounds but as usual, I'm going to ignore that.  I like long naan, never heard of round naan.  I'm sure it's fine when it's round, just not my style.  I floured my hands and tried not to get too much flour into the dough as I patted it into longish pieces.  The dough is seriously gooey so this wasn't exactly easy, but not a huge hassle.  Brush with melted butter, into the oven for 8 minutes.

After 8 minutes I took them out.  The tops weren't really browned, but they looked cooked through.  A later taste test showed that they probably could have stayed in the oven a couple more minutes, so on the next batch I left them in for 10.  Also on the next batch, I added some garlic powder to the melted butter before brushing them.  After they cooked 10 minutes, I took them out of the oven, and flipped them over on the hot pan to sit for a few minutes, hoping that would brown the tops a little bit.

Nice and brown on the bottom!

I made 12 pieces and I think the next time I make this (because there will be a next time) I will only make 10, slightly bigger ones.  Delicious!!!

nutrition facts


  1. I must say - I don't think you have ever been funnier! I can just imagine you in your Coors Light days!

    I had to read this to Ben. I snorted at the ancient woman with a stick for 4 hours!

    Thanks for the recipe and for killing me, once again!

  2. This is great Karyn. I am excited to try my ancient woman hand out and make some NAAN. I especially love how they look EXACTLY like the bagged naan (even browning on bottom) I buy frozen at the Indian/Pakastani Market. Very Cool.

  3. Great job Karyn! Now the true test for you will be to make your own yeast!