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!