na na na naan

On the heels of Wednesday's rather intense conversation, I thought we could all use a light-hearted break before the weekend. And I'll tell you one thing, I find it far easier to be light-hearted when there is a stack of warm flat-bread at home. Before two weeks ago I had never, I repeat never, made any sort of flatbread. But recently I've been possessed by the stuff, experimenting with pizza dough, tortillas, and a particular favorite that I came to talk to you about today; naan.

{ naan rising }

While I'm admittedly no expert on Indian cuisine, I do love the stuff. Good Indian food is so packed with flavor that after a meal of it I find it almost impossible to leave the table unsatisfied. And the naan... Oh, the naan. This chewy flatbread served straight from the oven and drizzled with ghee is perfect on its own or as a vehicle for mopping up remaining sauce from a dish... That is if you were silly enough to leave any sauce on the dish in the first place. This end-of-meal ritual is an important one for me; my grandmother didn't name me the "Clean Plate Queen" for nothing.

Recently we've added a couple of fairly simple Indian dishes to our rotation, one of the favorites being Chana Masala. I can't eat it without wanting naan, and until recently I was picking up a store bought version which was, well, meh. We stuck with it because I was doubtful that we could do better at home without the hellishly hot clay oven the flatbread is traditionally baked in. But when the pizza stone came into our lives, I changed my mind. So last week I did some research and came up with a recipe for at-home naan baking. The process was painless; just mix, knead, rise, roll and slap, and the results really were delicious.

{ please enjoy naan responsibly }

True, our maiden effort did not compete with naan from our favorite Indian restaurants, and probably won't. But what I'm discovering is that even rookie efforts at making some of my former grocery staples usually taste better than their store bought counterparts... This coming from a still-struggling cook.

Also true is that with my, ahem, flexible schedule, I'm able to work this kind of baking project into my day in a way that I couldn't when I was away from the apartment for at least ten hours every day. Still, if making naan at home is something that you're interested in, it is definitely easy enough to do when you have even a bit of extra time. It stays good for a day or so, though it's best fresh so in the future I think I'll make a larger recipe and freeze at least half of it for later. Which would be even better because then I could just take it out of the freezer, let it defrost and pop it in the oven.

I found the recipe in the Chicago Tribune via Serious Eats, apparently this one stood up to the competition. The only change I made was to substitute the non-fat Greek Yogurt I had in the fridge for plain yogurt. If it had a negative impact we didn't know it, but next time I will probably try plain just to see if it makes a difference.

The rise of naan: How to bake the Indian flatbread at home - Chicago Tribune Archives

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