Rubbery, leathery, too thick. Charred, uncooked, cold. Bitter after taste, too much soda, dough gone sour. The adjectives flow easily and the fate of the meal is sealed with the first bite of the naan.
Although it is considered an accompaniment, why do we lay so much store by a naan in an Indian restaurant and rate it by the naans it serves? Why do we drive more than 20 kms all the way to Templestowe for the naans that Saini of Rajbhog Indian restaurant makes?
It’s all in the naan!
Light, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside naan! Translucent, golden spotted naans glistening with butter! Naans that don’t lose their “break with the pincer” quality by the time they get to the table!
In search of that perfect naan, I decide to take things in our hands and make naans at home. I haven’t ventured so far to make naans at home as we don’t have a tandoor oven. Can I really make them?
Generations of coded information about making flat breads of various sorts come to my aid.
And lo behold! The family sit at the breakfast bar to enjoy eating the naans straight from the stove.
Although not cooked in a tandoor, these tava baked naans turn out as good as they can get...
4 cups plain flour
1 cup yoghurt
Milk as required to knead (approx 1 cup)
2 tbsp +1 tsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp baking powder
Salt to taste
Butter as required
Sieve the plain flour with the salt and baking powder in a bowl. Rub the olive oil
into the flour. Add the yoghurt and mix. Now gradually add milk to knead it into a soft dough. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil and knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and keep aside for about 4 hours.
Place the naan on the hot tava. When the side facing you bubbles up, flip the naan. When that side is almost done, slide the naan on to the flame and cook like you would with phulkas, finishing the naan on the flame. Remove it from the flame, butter each side generously. Serve hot with any curry.
You can make garlic naans as well, by rubbing crushed garlic along with the butter.