Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Best Homemade Garlic Naan

I've been obsessed with finding a good recipe for naan ever since my first attempt. I've scoured the internet for tips and videos on how other people make theirs at home. I was adamant that my naan should include yeast and yogurt, so any recipe without those were excluded. Finally, using Aayi's Recipes as a base, I came up with a recipe which seems right to me theoretically.

Besides the different ingredients called for in different recipes, there were a few methods for baking naans at home. The aim is to bake naans in very very high temperature like the professionals do in tandoors. A few cooks use baking or pizza stones in their ovens to bake naans on whilst others use the grill. Having neither a baking stone nor a grill, I was very interested in the method used by one Indian chef who cooks naans by holding the dough over an open flame. Curious, I decided to try out the Indian chef's method and also to use a conventional oven using the same recipe so I can compare how the naans cooked in these two methods would differ.

This recipe yields 5 naans

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon + 1/3 teaspoon instant yeast
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoon yogurt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped finely
Butter, softened

1) In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
2) Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and slowly pour in milk, yogurt and oil. Slowly draw the flour from the edges of the well into the liquid mixture to make a soft dough. Knead for 3-4 minutes. Dough should be very soft and a little bit sticky. Do not overknead here.
3) Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume.
4) Preheat oven to 250C with cookie sheet placed on lowest shelf.
5) Punch down dough. Divide dough into 5 balls. Coat balls with a bit of flour and roll them out to about 1/4 inch thick. Gently pull down one side to make a teardrop shape. Press garlic into the surface of the dough.
6) Bake in oven on lowest shelf for 3 minutes or until bubbles start to form. Take out, prick bubbles, turn over dough and bake on middle shelf for 2 minutes or until slightly browned.
7) Glaze naan with butter.

Serve immediately with your favourite curry.

For stovetop method:
1) Place dough on wire mesh.
2) Fire up your stove. Hold the wire mesh over the naked flame and move it around constantly to make sure every part of the dough gets the flame. Do not stop at one spot for too long. Make sure to check the bottom of the dough occasionally to avoid massive charring. Once browned, turn the dough over and do the same thing to the other side.
3) Glaze naan with butter.

I preferred the stovetop method. It resulted in softer naans and I could control how brown I would like my naans to be. The oven-baked naans were good as well. I was afraid to bake them too long as I wanted them to be soft and pliable.