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Naan bread - what the heck am I doing wrong?
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rhetangle



Joined: 22 Aug 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 9:13 am    Post subject: Naan bread - what the heck am I doing wrong? Reply with quote

Have tried two different recipes for naan bread and they have both turned out flat and tasting like pitta bread. Because I thought maybe they weren't rising properly I really made sure the yeast was frothing and happy before adding it this recent time but again - a let down.

Is this maybe something that doesn't work in an oven/grill and I should give up? Or, of course I could buy a tandoor http://www.tandooriq.co.uk/shop/shop.html

Has anyone else tried to make naan bread?
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Mister Choc



Joined: 03 Aug 2007
Posts: 19
Location: england

PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Rhetangle, I have trouble with naan and other breads as well. You can do them in the grill and oven. Did you you use yoghurt in the recipe?
If you go to BBC food and look for Anjum Anand she has a Naan recipe which she did under the grill on her tv show. As a further recommendation, I followed her recipe for chicken curry and it was the first time I got a decent result.
The tandoor looks good.
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sweetbabyjames



Joined: 05 May 2006
Posts: 357

PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if you're using high enough heat? Here's my naan recipe from Vasantha Prasad's Indian Vegetarian Cooking. I've never had a problem making it with the stove/oven. Good luck!

1/2 tsp. dry yeast
1/4 c. warm milk
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ghee
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. low-fat plain yogurt

1 Tbl. ghee for brushing
1/2 c. flour for dusting

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Set aside for 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. Add salt, baking soda, 2 teaspoons ghee and the sugar to the bowl and mix. Make a well in the middle of the flour and slowly add the yogurt and yeast-milk mixture. Combine until you have a soft, pliable dough. Put the dough in a large bowl with enough room for it to rise and cover with a damp cloth. Set aside in a warm place for 3-4 hours. (Note - I prefer to add the ghee with the milk, instead of the dry ingredients.)

2. After the dough has risen, knead for a few minutes, then divide it into 8 equal portions or balls.

3. Heat a cast-iron griddle or skillet and preheat the broiler.

4. Lightly flour the work surface. Flatten one of the dough balls between your floured palms. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the ball into a circle 6 inches wide and approximately 1/8 inch thick. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. When the skillet is hot, sprinkle the top of the naan with a little water and put it on the skillet, top side down. Cover the skillet and cook over medium heat for 1 minute, until the naan puffs up. Using a spatula, flip the naan and place the skillet under the broiler for 1 minute, until brownish spots begin to appear on the naan. Remove the naan from the skillet and, if desired, brush with ghee (I usually don't). Repeat the process using the rest of the dough. Keep the naan covered and serve hot.

6. These can be prepared 2 to 3 days in advance, cooled, wrapped in foil, and refrigerated. Just before serving, heat the foil-wrapped naans in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sweetbabyjames-- forgive my ignorance, I've never had (much less baked) naan. Is it:
a. very much like pita bread,
or
b. not at all like pita bread!
Question
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emilyj



Joined: 26 Jun 2006
Posts: 184
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh Sweetbabyjames, thanks so much for your recipe I LOVE naan so I will definitely try it next time I make curry. Have you ever tried making Paratha (sp?)?

Gingerpale, naan isn't really like pita bread - it is a flatbread but it is a bit more substantial and puffs up a bit. I have no idea how to describe it- I'm sure someone else could describe it better! Chapatis are more like pita bread I would say.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to throw in my 2 cents' worth: citing pita to describe naan to someone who has no idea of what is isn't bad, actually. And, yes, I'd agree that it is more substantial and "puffier". It's also more tender and a bit chewy and is best served warm. Plain naan is wonderful on its own, but Indian cuisine considers the pairing of dishes with the appropriate naan accompaniment to be essential...garlic naan, onion naan, herb naan, etc. Kind of like pairing a dish with a complementary wine.

My knowledge of Indian cooking is miniscule, so I'll close my comments and hope that others will jump in with more information.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, there's a similarity in that they're both flat breads. But naan is, as georgia points out, puffier (at least on the edges; naan gets quite stretched and thin at the center). And, if I can expand, it also has a flavor I'd describe as "sweet" even though it is not a sweet bread. Perhaps that sweetness comes from the slight char it develops in cooking. Naan is also much airier bread and should have a generous distribution of small and good-sized blisters.

Traditional naan is formed in the balls sweetbabyjames describes but then it is "loaded"* onto the vertical side of an incendiary hot clay oven called a tandoor where it sticks to the clay and stretches into long thin ovals as it cooks. The bottom cooks to an even brown from the constant heat of the clay. The blistery top which is having its oven spring on that wall, is cooked by the rising column of heat from the charcoal burning below.

It's quite unique and really very, very good! In traditional Indian culture the naan does the job of the fork gathering up, pinching round and then delivering a morsel of food. If you ever have an opportunity to try this it is only done with the right hand. (serious breech to use the left!)

Here is a link to a spot where you can see a tandoor. In the last slide you can see two naans in the background. The plain one probably should be much darker. The dark one with the greens on it is probably filled as they sometimes are with onion, potato or cauliflower. The very flat thing in the front is probably a papadum. I wish I knew how they're made: probably with a chickpea flour batter and dried on a flat grill. Very crispy and also good.

You can also see the skewers of meat roasting (sometimes they hang from the lip of the tandoor on large open crooks on the end of the skewers.

If you haven't discovered Indian food yet, you're waiting too long! It's fabulous complex rich flavors that don't have to be terribly piquante if you're just starting out.

_____

* The traditional loading of a naan is to lay the flattened round of dough onto a large pad of wadded towel. The highly experienced chef (tho I don't know how they do their practicing; possibly a lot of wasted dough in cold tandoors) then reaches into the tandoor and slaps in onto the clay. It's retrieved when cooked with a long hooked skewerish device and, again, great skill.

I have heard of (but not tried) loading naan onto the outside of the upper curves of a Webber-type BBQ. Intriguing possibility... ::said the girl who has broken several oven stones trying to duplicate tandoori chicken::
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Rainey--the link got left out?)

Boy I'm glad this subject came up--several excellent comments and a recipe. C&Z forums at their finest!
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sweetbabyjames



Joined: 05 May 2006
Posts: 357

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gingerpale, get thee to an Indian restaurant! I've had two different kinds of pita. One in midwest Greek restaurants I've had tends to be soft, puffy and pocket-less, more like naan versus the regular, thin, pocket kind.

I've never made paratha at home, emilyj, though I have made roti paratha in a skillet from...*ahem*...frozen, pre-made dough.

I do make dosa occasionally, which is my all-time favorite for masala dosai with sambar or simply sauteed onions & peppers. Good south Indian is hard to come by in restaurants.

I've never heard of the naan flavor having to match the food carefully, but I do know that some people are very loyal to a particular type and won't eat their curry with anything else! Some prefer naan, others basmati rice, using either as a scoop to eat with their hands - a skill unto itself. Once you've eaten curry that way, it will never taste the same with utensils. And furthermore, if you eat with your hands in an Indian restaurant, you'll get funny looks from other Americans for being, perhaps, slightly messy...and equally funny looks from the Indian restaurateurs who wonder why you, an American, know how to eat like that. But nevermind! It's just between you and your curry.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oops! Sorry...
http://www.tandoors.com/?gclid=CIXj9smujo4CFQRDYQod1Q9T1g
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Rainey.-- now here's another link to explain a possibly puzzling remark in your post about eating naan:

"..it is only done with the right hand ( serious breech to use the left!)"


http://www.webword.com/2004/08/06/india-etiquette-lesson-dont-eat-with-the-hand-that-wipes-your-butt/
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sweetbabyjames



Joined: 05 May 2006
Posts: 357

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a side note, also be careful not to present a gift with your left hand. Embarassed
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, so I guess there are no Indian left-handers.

I'd have to eat with my left hand tied behind my back, I'm soooo left-handed. Can't do anything much with my right hand.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They may very well be left handed but I think they learn pretty quickly to do, as a friend of mine says, the things above the waist with their right hand and the things below their waist with their left hands.

The oddest adaptation of right and left handedness I've ever heard of was Gerald Ford who was naturally left handed but forced to be right handed. His adaptation? If a task was accomplished sitting down he used his right hand but apparently they left him free to use his left hand when he was active. Fortunately, I guess, because allowing himself that freedom allowed him to excel at sports (despite the reputation he later developed for clumsiness) which, as much as anything, is probably what propelled him to the White House.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm--is the left hand taboo only for "in public"? There are many tasks (cooking!!) in the home that require both hands. At least I thought they did...
I spent some time (years ago) in Israel, and saw that the Arabs living there have the same right hand/left hand custom, so the Indian taboo is not unique.
Seems like an excellent idea for pre-schoolers!
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