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At one of the restaurants I worked in, I learned to work both a wood-fired pizza oven and a charcoal-fueled tandoor oven. At the end of the night I felt a lot like Cinderella, but boy, the flavors we made! I learned to love reading the fires, watching the food literally grow and take on a golden, crispy sheen. The tandoor was used to bake naan, a traditional Indian quick bread with yogurt in it that was baked on the vertical side of the oven, where the temperature would often reach 900°F. One stretched the dough, slapped it onto the wall of the oven, and 45 seconds later peeled off the wall a browned loaf that was chewy inside and crackling on top. We brushed them with melted butter, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and sent them to the tables. Some guests ordered five and six baskets of bread with their meals.
Naan can also be made on your barbecue grill, to very similar effect. Itís a nice way to have fresh, hot bread on a steamy summer day without having to either miss the party, or heat up the kitchen by turning on the oven. Itíll take a little longer than 45 seconds, but I think you'll be pleased with the results. Make sure the fire is good and hot; it can be helpful to close the lid on the grill for a few minutes of the cooking time, to duplicate the radiant heat of the tandoor. I have also made this successfully in my cast iron pan on top of the stove, with the help of a pot lid.óS.R.
1 1/2 cups (6 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) whole wheat, rye or pumpernickel flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup (6 ounces) water
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces)King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup (6 ounces) plain yogurt (low-fat is OK, but please donít use nonfat)
salad oil or pan spray for grilling
melted butter (garlic and pepper optional), for serving
Sponge: Mix the sponge ingredients together in a bowl, and set it aside for 4 hours (or up to about 16 hours), until the mixture is bubbly and has a nice aroma.
Dough: Transfer the sponge to the bowl of a mixer or bucket of a bread machine Add the dough ingredients, and mix and knead the mixture till it becomes smooth; the dough will be soft, but not sticky. Adjust its consistency with additional flour or water, if necessary. If youíre using a bread machine, cancel it after the machine finishes kneading, before the dough rises.
Divide the dough into 8 balls, about 3 3/4 ounces each (about 2 1/4 inches, the size of a tennis ball). Let them rest, covered, for half an hour in the refrigerator while the grill is heating.
Baking: To bake, stretch each ball into an oval shape a scant 1/4-inch thick. Brush with oil or spray with pan spray, then lay the oiled side of the dough down on a clean, hot grill. After 1 minute, pick up the bread with a spatula, turn it 45 degrees, and put it back down to cook for another minute; itíll start to puff up a bit. Oil the top side, then turn it over, cover the grill, and cook for 2 minutes to finish. Remove the naan from the grill.
If you donít want to grill the naan, place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or directly on a baking stone), and bake it on the bottom rack of a preheated 450°F oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until itís puffed and golden. To serve, brush the naan with melted butter, and season it with salt and pepper while itís still hot. Stack the breads to keep them soft. Naan can be served in a basket on its own, or wrapped around grilled meats. Yield: 8 flatbreads, about 6 1/2 x 4 inches each.
Nutrition information per serving (1 loaf, 101g): 241 cal, 1g fat, 8g protein, 48g complex carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 1mg cholesterol, 496mg sodium, 219mg potassium, 4RE vitamin A, 3mg iron, 44mg calcium, 114mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XIII, No. 5, Summer 2002 issue.