..to warm up new places.
This is my go-to dinner when we invite friends over. Naan, dal makhani (creamy black lentils), tandoori vegetables, jeera rice and dessert. Comfort food.
In honor of all things new, I’ve decided to post this dinner as a series of posts, each detailing one recipe. Our dinner guests were kind enough to let me take pictures of food right before dinner, and the seven year old was especially generous with ‘staging’ help.
Let’s start with naan, for what’s more comforting than bread?
The recipe makes 12 naan, and can easily be halved. The dough needs to be started at least 6 hours before baking. If planning to make naan for dinner, I usually start the dough the night before or first thing in the morning.
4 cups white whole wheat flour (for the more traditional version, use all-purpose flour. I’ve also used a 1:1 mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour with good results.)
1/2 cup loose flour for dusting (any kind will do)
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nigella seeds (optional)
1/3 cup plain yogurt (Greek/homemade is best)
A little butter/ghee for brushing the naan
– Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water and let it stand for 5 minutes, or until the yeast starts to foam.
– In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and nigella seeds. Add in the yogurt and 2 tbsp oil. Mix well with your hands to get a crumbly mixture.
– Pour in the water/yeast mixture and knead for a couple of minutes until you get a soft, smooth dough. You may need to add slightly more water/flour depending upon the kind of flour you’re using- don’t hesitate to experiment.
– Gather the dough into a ball, roll in the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, and loosely cover the bowl with cling wrap. Let the dough stand in a warm place for 4-6 hours or until doubled. (The inside of your oven is a good place for this.) If raising the dough overnight, refrigerate it in the morning and remove to the counter an hour before baking.
– Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees an hour before baking. For the best naan, place a baking stone/quarry tiles on the middle shelf before pre-heating. If you don’t have either, line the middle shelf with thick aluminum foil. (And then go invest 6 bucks in a box of unglazed quarry tiles at your friendly neighborhood home store- its the best 6 bucks I ever spent.)
– By this time, the dough will be very soft and somewhat bubbly. Deflate it by giving it a couple of turns with your hands and divide into 12 equal pieces.
– Spread the loose flour on a plate and put it next to your rolling station. Working with one piece of dough at a time, dredge it lightly in the flour and roll out into a 1/4 inch thick oval with a rolling pin. (If the dough is sticky, cover your fingers with loose flour as well and avoid using your palms.) You may need to dredge the naan in loose flour a couple of times to keep them from sticking. Roll three naan at a time and put them side by side in a large plate.
– Turn the oven broiler on. Give it a minute, then open the oven and quickly slap the three naan on the baking stone/foil. The idea is that the hot stone will cook the bottom of the naan while the broiler cooks the top. This way, you don’t have to flip the naan to cook both sides. It takes about 3 minutes for a naan to cook this way, but keep an eye on them the first few times, since residential ovens tend to vary quite a bit in the way they heat up.
– Roll the next three naan while the first three cook. If you’re making several batches at a time, give your oven some time to catch up after every couple of batches. (Also, try not to open the oven door other than to add and remove the bread.)
– Brush the naan with butter/ghee and serve immediately.
Next up- dal makhani.