The Taste of India: Juji's Naan (Leavened Flat Breads)

Vegetarian recipes to warm your palate.


| February/March 1993



Makes 9 breads

Some version of naan is made all the way from the southern part of the ­former Soviet Union to North India, often in clay, brick, and stone ovens. The version here, simplified for home kitchens, is cooked on top of the stove and under the broiler. The bread sits inert and flat during its skillet cooking but puffs dramatically on being placed under the broiler. This process has a certain amount of entertainment value; invite family or guests into the kitchen to watch.

• 3 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• About 1 3/4 cups plain yogurt
• Soft unsalted butter, optional

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Slowly add as much yogurt as you need to gather the flour together and make a soft, resilient dough. Knead for about 10 minutes and form a ball. Put the ball in a bowl and cover the bowl with a damp dishcloth. Set aside in a warm place for 11/2–2 hours. Knead the dough again and divide into nine equal parts. Keep them covered.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over a lowish flame, and preheat the broiler.

Take one of the parts of dough and make a ball out of it. Flatten it and then roll it out on a lightly floured surface until you have a round that is about 1/8 inch thick. When the skillet is very hot, pick up the naan and slap it onto the heated surface. Let it cook slowly for about 4 to 5 minutes. Now put the skillet under the broiler for 1 to 11/2 minutes or until the puffing-up process is complete and there are a few reddish spots on the naan. Remove the naan with a spatula and brush with butter if you like. Make all the naans this way, keeping them stacked and covered with a clean dishcloth. Serve hot.

If you wish to have the naans later, wrap them in a plastic bag when they have cooled. Before you eat, wrap as many as you need in aluminum foil and heat in an oven at 400°F for 15 minutes.





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