Not long after we got married ..
A mysterious package showed up on our doorstep
The sender? The Spice Station in LA .. and I tell you what .. did it ever smell good!
That evening .. over dinner & a glass of wine .. we opened our box .. and were nothing short of .. stunned. A complete treasure trove of exotic salts & spices .. 36 in all
“All right .. which of our friends & family do we get to thank?”
No card .. no note .. not even a hint. It took a while .. but we eventually found her out .. and would like to honor this beautiful gift .. in the best way we know how .. we'll cook for her .. be it from afar.
The selection of spices is all about branching out .. which begged the question .. how can I expand my horizons while cooking something we know she'd enjoy? We landed on Indian .. quickly realizing a single choice wouldn't suffice .. so over the next couple of weeks .. woven in amongst some of the other posts .. look for a special series of Indian dishes
The fragrant tins now have tiny magnets glued to their backsides .. and hang on our kitchen backsplash .. a wonderful reminder of how very lucky we are to have a circle of good surrounding us
To or favorite Spice Fairy .. Thank-you .. so very much .. We love you extra for smelly boxes on our front doorstep!
There's no better way to kick off a series featuring Indian cooking than with Naan. For the longest time we've bought it from our local International grocery .. using it for everything from wraps to individual pizzas. With my great love for homemade bread .. I wish I'd have tried my hand much sooner
This recipe comes from a favorite .. Artisan Pizza & Flatbread in 5 .. cooked in a cast iron pan on the stovetop .. with a bit of clarified or regular butter to impart a flavor similar to the traditional bread. In the book it's mentioned that naan can be made with any of their bread doughs .. which I'm sure would be delicious ..
But couldn't resist their more traditional recipe .. which included yogurt & milk.
As it turns out .. the naan was incredibly easy to make .. the results nothing short of delicious. Though it can be made on a grill .. pizza stone .. or in a cast iron skillet on the stove top .. I much prefer the latter
If you like yours flavored .. that can easily be accomplished .. by incorporating it into the dough .. or sprinkling on right before cooking. Things like fresh herbs & cheeses are probably best incorporated .. but for others (think onion or garlic) .. their flavors truly shine after coming in direct contact with the hot pan.
The original makes quite a bit of dough .. for the two of us I halved the recipe & froze what we didn't use. (With Artisan bread dough from the freezer .. I let thaw in the fridge the night before I'd like to use it)
I also couldn't bring myself to use 100% all-purpose flour .. instead substituting 1/4 of the total with whole wheat pastry. It turned out beautifully.
A couple of tricks I discovered along the way
If using greek yogurt .. add a 2 or 3 extra tablespoons of milk
I experimented with regular butter & ghee (clarified) .. finding ghee really did impart more of the taste one would find if served in a restaurant
How to re-create the signature bubbles on a piece of naan? Solved by putting a lid on the pan while cooking
ps: If anyone has ideas for such spices as Aleppo Pepper, Spanish Rosemary Salt, Vintage Merlot Salt, Sassafras Bark, or Moroccan Thyme .. just to name a few .. I'm all ears!
~ Adapted from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day .. here
- 1½ cups lukewarm water
- 1½ cups lukewarm milk ** I used whole
- 1 tablespoon granulated yeast
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ cup yogurt ** If using greek, add 2 or 3 extra Tbsp milk
- 2 tablespoons honey ** or coconut sugar
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ¼ cup clarified butter for finishing after baking
- (** Note: I always make bread dough with my standing mixer using a dough hook. Although artisan bread can easily be made by mixing with a large spoon)
- In the mixer's bowl, whisk together the water, milk, yeast, salt, yogurt and honey. Add the flours, about 1/3 at a time, while mixing on low to medium speed. When all of the flour has been added and combined, turn the mixer to medium and let it knead the dough for a minute or two.
- Transfer to a larger bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking. Cover the container loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, leaving some way for air to escape. Allow it to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until the dough rises and collapses.
- The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise, though it's much easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate until ready to use. It will last for 7 days, when refrigerated.
- At this point it can also be frozen. I'll typically freeze the dough in 1/4 pound portions and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before the day I'd like to use it.
- (** Note: The dough makes enough for sixteen 1/4 pound portions. Each 1/4 pound portion will make 2 pieces of naan, or 1 pizza crust or 1 flatbread)
- On baking day ... punch the 1/4 pound portion of dough and divide into two equal balls. Using a rolling-pin, roll each piece of dough into an oval shape. The dough should be about 6-8 inches long and about 1/4-inch thick, but no thinner. Repeat this method with the rest of the dough.
- Warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (you want a hot pan). Brush both sides of the naan with olive oil or clarified butter. Place the Naan on the hot skillet, cover and bake for 1 minute, until you see bubbles starting to form. Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Place the naan in a tea towel-lined dish.
- Repeat with the rest of the naan.