A Sweet Taste of India: Naan (Leavened Bread)

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Makes 8 large naans

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain, lowfat yogurt, whisked
  • 1 egg, beaten (an extra 1/4 cup of yogurt can be substituted for the egg)
  • 2 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
  • 41/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Extra flour, for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and sugar in a bowl and let stand for 3 to 4 minutes until it becomes frothy. Mix together the milk, yogurt, egg, and melted butter, and set aside.

2. In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast and the milk mixtures.

3. Fold together all of the ingredients, then knead until smooth. Cover the bowl tightly with foil or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the dough has almost doubled its initial volume. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

4. Divide the dough into eight equal portions and shape each one into a round ball. Work with one portion at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Take one round, flatten it slightly with your fingertips, and roll it out on a floured pastry board with a rolling pin. Pull one edge to give the naan a tear shape, which should be about 10 inches long and about 6 inches wide at the widest point. Brush the top surface with a little oil or melted butter, sprinkle with a few poppy seeds, and place on a greased baking sheet.

5. Roll all the naans, then bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Wrap in napkins to keep warm, and serve hot.

Click here for the main article, “A Sweet Taste of India.” 

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