Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Naan (Yogurt Flatbread) with Cauliflower Lentil Dal

This is getting serious.  We need a bigger oven.
I had to bake this bread in two shifts because we can only fit one cookie sheet at a time in our oven.

I'd like to introduce The Upper Yeast Side to Flatbread.  Naan, meet The Upper Yeast Side.  UYS, meet Naan.

Naan is a type of flatbread originating from Central Asia.  
How exotic.  It's glutenous, almost like a small, thin pizza crust.
If you've ever gone out to Indian food and wondered how to make that awesome warm, thin bread they served you... Keep reading.  Disclaimer: I hope that I in no way butchered classic naan bread (if so, please email me privately to discuss).  To my melting pot taste buds this bread turned out awesome -- next time I am going to try brushing the top with herbed olive oil and garlic.  

Naan (Yogurt Flatbread) with Cauliflower Lentil Dal
(Printable Recipe)
Prep time: About 1 1/2 hours
Yield: 10 naan breads and a big pot of dal!

For Naan (recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison):
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup plain yogurt (low fat or whole milk)
1/4 cup butter or ghee**
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
**I used olive oil because I forgot two things: to replenish our butter and to look for ghee.

For Dal (recipe inspriation from Bitten Blog -- his "Spiced Red Lentil Dal" specifically):
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric or curry powder
4 cups cauliflower florets
Cayenne pepper (optional, but recommended), black pepper and salt to taste
5 tablespoons plain yogurt
Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

Game plan:
About 12 hours before you want to embark on this Indian journey, rinse and soak 1 cup of your favorite dried lentils.
Start by proofing the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.  Give it 10 minutes to bubble.  While you wait, combine all other ingredients EXCEPT the 3 cups of white flour (1.5 bread 1.5 all-purpose) for the naan.  By the time you've measured and combined, the yeast should be bubbly.
Add it to the hot water, yogurt, butter, salt, whole wheat flour, and wheat bran.  Slowly stir in as much white flour as the dough will absorb.  Then, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in more flour until it feels wet-tacky but doesn't stick to your fingers (this may mean washing said fingers).
Now, your dough needs to rest in an oiled bowl for about an hour.  Turn the dough in the bowl so that the top gets oiled also.
No time to waste -- get going on the dal!  Heat the vegetable oil in a pot.  Add the onion first followed by the ginger and the garlic.  All should be chopped to your liking -- I recommend the onion diced and the ginger and garlic minced.  After about 3 minutes (or once it smells awesome), add the lentils and enough water to bury everything underwater about 1inch.  Add the spices of your choice -- I highly recommend turmeric and coriander (or curry powder which is really the combo of turmeric+coriander+some other spices) and as much cayenne as you can handle.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.
While it's cooking, chop up cauliflower.  Set cauliflower aside and check on your Naan.
The dough should be doubled in bulk by now.  Preheat the oven and a pizza stone (if you have one) or a cookie sheet to 450°F.  Then, dump dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Cut dough into 10-12 equal pieces.  Shape into balls and let it rest, covered with a cotten dishtowel, for 10 minutes.
Take this time to check on the dal.  Pop cauliflower in there.  Stir it up.  Cook until tender until there is little to no water.  Turn off heat and stir in 5 tablespoons of plain yogurt.  Serve garnished with parsley or cilantro.
Flatten the naan with your fingers -- poke it in the shape of a sand dollar with your fingers.  You want a bumpy surface so you achieve the perfect combination of crispy-chewy.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

I used flat leaf parsley as a garnish -- Lil thinks cilantro tastes like soap.  
naan naan naan naan hey hey hey goodbye

- Sar

P.S. Add to Wish List: A pizza stone (assuming it would fit in our oven).

1 comment:

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