The experience of an Indian meal, particularly north Indian, is incomplete without tearing a small piece of a flatbread and wrapping it around a sabzi. In India, flatbreads are often looked upon as devices to help one mop sabzis (wet or dry), curries, dals and other side-dishes. The yeast-leavened naan, traditionally prepared in a clay oven, is one such culinary export from the Indian subcontinent to the world. Commonly prepared using all-purpose flour or maida, yoghurt, yeast and oil, and then baked in a tandoor or clay-oven, the naan is an inseparable part of north Indian cuisine. Rarely found in a round or triangular shape, the classic teardrop shape is what’s common – and that’s due to the dough being stretched during baking. In north India, this flatbread is typically served with some butter chicken or dal makhani. However, you can relish this slightly charred flatbread with any spicy Indian curry or gravy of your choice or as a standalone dish.
Ingredients for Naan Recipe:
250 gms of refined flour
20 ml Oil
A pinch of baking soda
60 gms yoghurt (room temperature)
Some black and white sesame seeds
Lukewarm water, as required
Method for Naan Recipe:
1. In a large mixing bowl, throw in all the dry ingredients, add the yoghurt and mix. Next, add some lukewarm water, little by little, and knead to a soft dough.
2. Once ready, grease your hands with some oil and knead the dough again. Don’t forget to cover the dough with a moist cloth, to prevent it from drying out, and let it rest for around 2-3 hours so that it rises well.
3. Next, dust your hands with some dry flour, and knead the dough again. Divide the dough into six equal parts. Take one small ball of the naan dough and dust with dry flour before you begin rolling it, as per your liking. You can cover your leavened naans with a wet cloth to prevent them from drying. And don’t forget to sprinkle some sesame seeds on them.
4. Next, once the tandoor oven has reached its maximum temperature, use a metal rod with a wooden handle and hook on one end to make the bread stick to the wall. In just about 5 minutes, the bread should puff up with visible brown spots. Use the same rod to take the bread off the tandoor, and serve hot.
9 Types of Naan
While this is the classic naan recipe and may sound basic, these flatbreads are actually ever so versatile. Top them with your choice of ingredients, stuff them or simply turn them into an altogether new dish. While the Butter Garlic naan variation comes slathered in melting butter and small chunks of garlic, the Chilli Cheese Naan is one of the many stuffed versions of the flatbread that comes stuffed with a mix of chopped green chillies, grated processed cheese, salt and some chopped coriander. This naan is best enjoyed fresh out of the tandoor if you don’t want to miss out on all the gooey goodness. Here are some ways this ubiquitous flatbread is enjoyed in different parts of the Indian sub-continent.
Leftover Naan Recipes
Have too much naan left over and no gravy to go with it? Before you think the flatbread has no use without a gravy or curry, how about having it with hummus or using the naan to make bruschetta. To convert leftover naan pieces into chips, simply cut your leftover naan into finger-sized pieces and bake them in the oven to make crisp naan chips. Pair these naan chips with a classic hummus or any other dip of your choice. You could also wrap your leftover naan around a filling of fresh veggies or some roasted meat, and instantly convert it into an on-the-go meal. So instead of tossing them away, here are other ways you can use leftover naan.
Must try: Naan Bruschettas
Flatbreads from North and South India
Apart from the naan, India’s very rich and varied cuisine features a multitude of other flatbreads made using different types of flours and cooking methods. Each kind is unique and finds its way into our culinary experiences, from breakfast to dinner, accompanying various regional delicacies. In the North, parathas, kulchas, puris and phulkas are mainstay. Read about the 11 types of flatbreads you will find in North India. Meanwhile, south India loves their ever-nutritious bhakris, parottas, thalipeeth and puran polis. Read about the 7 types of flatbreads from South India.
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