Saturday, 20 November 2010

Naan Bread

No matter how much baking I do, there will always be things I've never attempted. In this week's course I had to produce a brioche and a naan bread, neither of which I have ever tried. In a training kitchen with one chef tutor between 15 of us this can be challenging, especially when you take into account the rush to get available equipment before somebody else snaffles it. I'm fairly sure they don't have these issues in Cordon Bleu schools but then again I don't have £32,000 per annum to spend on retraining either.

My fellow students all work in professional kitchens full time and use their newly acquired skills on a daily basis. I don't (yet), so I have to practise as much as I can at home and hope that I improve. So here we are on day five of an entire week of dough and it's curry night! My waist line hates me.

Having scoured my professional books for a recipe I liked I finally settled on one from Madhur Jaffery's book: Indian Cookery. Did you know that Madhur Jaffrey used to be an actress before becoming a food writer?  And that she is credited with introducing James Ivory to Ismail Merchant (Wikipedia, I love you)? In fact her entire family appears to be famous in some way or other, but I digress. This dough is quick and easy to make. It rose to about 3 times its original size and the resulting taste and texture is perfect so she's won me over first time. The only change I made was to use fresh yeast as I don't feel confident using the dried product. Emulating the inside of a tandoor is a challenge but the trick is to pre-heat a heavy oven tray in a hot oven and also pre-heat your grill before use. At the risk of sounding like Delia, I can't recommend Mermaid hard anodised products highly enough as my baking sheet serves as a flat base for all the breads I bake and never buckles or sticks, despite daily use.

Naan Bread - makes 6 large breads
  • 150ml lukewarm milk
  • 2 tsp castor sugar
  • 15g fresh yeast
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 150ml plain yoghurt (lightly beaten)
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and rub the yeast in (as for crumble), then mix in the salt, baking powder and sugar.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the egg, oil and yoghurt and start to mix with one hand. With your other hand gradually add the warm milk until you have enough liquid to form a ball of dough.
  4. Knead the dough on the work surface for approx 10 minutes until it is smooth. Oil your mixing bowl with a 1/4 tsp of vegetable oil, coat the dough by turning it in the bowl then cover in cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for one hour or until it has doubled in size.
  5. Knock back the dough by kneading gently then cut into six even-sized balls. Roll into a tear-drop shape approx 12cm x 25cm.  Keep the balls you are not working on under a damp cloth so they don't dry out.
  6. Remove the hot baking tray from the oven, slap the naan onto the tray and bake in the hottest part of the oven for 3-4 mins. You will see the base begin to brown and the dough will bubble up with trapped air. Then remove the tray and place it under the hot grill to colour the top for 2 mins.
  7. Wrap the naan in a clean tea-towel and repeat process until they are all cooked (I managed 2 per tray).
Serve hot with any curry of your choice!


  1. I've come over from Please Do Not Feed the Animals. I think your Naan bread looks lovely. I agree with you about the Mermaid trays. I invested in them a few years ago, and they are worth it. And yes, you are so right about Madhur Jaffrey's family - they all seem to be in the limelight.

    Absolutely admire you for following your passion. Best of luck with Catering collage and don't let those who work in prof. kitchens bother you, your home - kitchen is the best place to learn. Kind wishes.

  2. That's really kind. Losing the income has been a bit of an adjustment but I am happier than ever before.