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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kenji's 30 Minute Naan

A couple of years ago, a former co-worker of mine from ATK, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, developed and posted a recipe for a 30-minute Naan (Indian Flatbread).  I absolutely loved the recipe because it relies on chemical leavener (baking powder) instead of yeast to give you a wonderful, tasty, and chewy Naan in about half the time it would take you to make it the traditional way.  Plus, it can be cooked on an indoor grill pan or, in a pinch, a cast iron skillet.  No need for fancy Indian cookware.

Kenji is now Managing Editor at Serious Eats and the blog he originally posted the recipe to is now defunct.  I wrote to him and asked if he'd allow me to re-post the recipe here to share with my readers and he gladly agreed.  Thankfully, I keep a paper binder of my favorite recipes and had thought to print his recipe at the time I found it.

So without further ado...


Kenji's 30-Minute Naan
Adapted from a recipe developed by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Note: The original recipe was written in prose.   I've take some liberties to rewrite it in a more traditional "steps" format, which I prefer.

2 1/2 cups Bread Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1  teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
6oz plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup warm water (approx.)
olive oil or melted clarified butter (ghee)

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the bread flour, baking powder, and salt.

2) Add the yogurt, milk, and vegetable oil.  Mix together at medium-low speed until it starts to come to gether in clumps.  The flour will still look very dry at this point.

3) With the mixer running, add warm water to the mix a little at a time until it forms into a dough.  You may not need the whole cup.  The dough should be quite sticky and very soft.  It should just barely pull away from the mixer walls.  If it seems stuck to the mixer, add a tablespoon or two of flour.  If it balls-up around the hook, add more water.  In general, the moister the dough, the larger the bubbles will be in the finished naan, which is good.

4) Once the dough comes together, knead it for about 2 minutes in the mixer.  Remove it to a floured board and divide it into 6 or 8 balls, depending on the size you want your finished naan to be.  Place the balls on a lightly oiled surface and allow dough to rest for 5-10 minutes.

5) Heat a gas or charcoal grill or an indoor grill pan.  If using an indoor pan, you want to heat it on high.

6) Roll each ball with a rolling pin into approximately 8 x 14-inch ovals.  Stack the ovals between pieces of wax or parchment paper lightly dusted with flour.  Alternatively, you can grill each piece as it is rolled.

7) Brush the top of the each oval with melted clarified butter or olive oil and place it buttered-side down on the hot grill.  Brush the second side with more butter or oil.  It should start to bubble-up within a few seconds.

8) Monitor the bread closely.  As soon as the first side is light blonde with dark charred patches, flip it and let it cook on the other side, again until light blond with charred patches.

9) Transfer cooked bread onto a plate and cover with foil or a towel to keep warm.  Continue rolling and grilling until you're out of dough balls.  Serve immediately.

Tips:
- Naan freezes well, so make more than you need.  Reheat it by wrapping in foil and popping into a hot oven for 15 minutes.
- Things go smoother if you work with a friend.  One can roll while the other grills.  This will keep things from getting overcooked.
- If you don't have yogurt and milk handy, substitute both with equal amounts of buttermilk.
- All-purpose flour will still deliver bread better than any restaurant.  It just may be less chewy.



Special thanks to Kenji for allowing me to re-publish this recipe here on EatMyAsparagus!

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