Eating With My Fingers

I love flatbread.  I adore the taste, the crispness with just the right amount of give – but really, flatbreads; naan, parathas, pooris, even pita bread – are a means to an end. They give me the freedom to eat with my fingers. The smallest bit of bread makes any dish manageable with just a thumb and two fingers.

For some Westerners it’s a skill that has to be acquired. Not for me. I jumped right in on my first trip to India  – to the astonishment of my Indian family.  Eating with your hands gives you a new way to appreciate the texture of food and for me, turns every bite into a conscious act.  If I could get away with it, I’d ditch the silverware at every meal.

Today’s Tuesday with Dorie challenge is Oasis Naan.  Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid’s naan was the first recipe I ever made from Baking with Julia.  And it is one I return to often, though these days, I put more of my own spin on it – using a mix of whole wheat and besan (chickpea ) flours.  In the summer, I slide my baking stone onto the grill and bake the bread there – but the dough works equally well in the oven. It makes a great pizza, too.

I make mini-naans, rather than full size ‘snowshoe breads’.   These breads are best eaten straight out of the oven, but you can divide up the dough and freeze it in any portion size you want. Just thaw the dough out in the refrigerator overnight and then let it rise at room temperature for a few hours before shaping and baking.

You can see Alford and Dugiud demonstrating the naan for Julia on YouTube.  Don’t miss Duguid’s bread stamp in part one – I want one! And in part two, the duo actually coach Julia through shaping and forming her own naan – the first time I’ve actually seen her participate as more than just the narrator in this series.

Alford and Duguid were culinary partners and husband and wife for two decades. They produced six books together, including the legendary Hot Sour Salty Sweet, and a flatbread book that I think I need to get my hands on. Today, though no longer partners, they are both still writing. Duguid runs a South Asian culinary tour company. There’s another fantasy vacation for my list.

Give the naan a try. It’s one of the easiest breads you’ll ever make.  My only procedural precaution is to watch the bread like a hawk while it bakes. I heat up the baking stone at the highest temperature I can, but when the bread goes in I drop the oven temperature to 375° F. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to scorch it.

You can find the recipe at on the blogs of our hosts, Maggie at Always Add More Butter, and Phyl, at Of Cabbages and King Cake, and you’ll find the links from all the participating bakers on the Tuesday’s with Dorie website.

Live a little. Eat with your fingers, with or without the naan!

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by ButterYum on June 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Looks so good. Mine will be ready for the oven in about an hour – can’t wait to try it!

    Reply

  2. ButterYum, how did it turn out? Lynn, your naan looks yummy! Very interesting use of alternative flours :) And I’m glad to see someone else used parchment paper for theirs. Worked like a charm, other than the bits that hung over the side of the baking pan and looked like they were seconds from bursting into flames…

    Reply

  3. This looks great – clearly you are the voice of experience. I was wondering about using whole wheat – from your comment, it looks like I could just substitute some, and tweak the water as needed to get the right consistency. That picture with the green dip or pesto looks marvelous…what is it?

    Reply

    • Hi Kathleen – the green sauce is an Indian condiment – cilantro pickle – a favorite of mine. It’s a really flexible recipe. As long as the dough stays a little sticky you are good to go.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Piebird on June 6, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Thanks for sharing all your experience with this bread, and the background on the authors. And the SE Asia culinary tour would be right up Laurel and Alex’s alley!

    Reply

  5. I got hungry just by looking at your post! =)

    Reply

  6. Thanks for leaving the link for the videos! I’m going to go watch Julia get her naan on! :) P.S. Your naan looks super yummy!

    Reply

  7. Fingers indeed :-) These look amazing.

    Reply

  8. Your post reminds me about how I spend most meals telling my kids NOT to eat with their fingers, then when we go out for Indian food I have to remind them that they are SUPPOSED to eat with their fingers. Cultural borders are funny that way.

    Reply

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