Sourdough Naan

Wheaten flat breads are probably the oldest baked goods dating into antiquity. Today they are popular throughout the Mediterranean region and across South Asia in many forms including focaccia, pizza, pita, and naan. The last are distinguished by the inclusion of yogurt that imparts a rich tang to the dough. Naan is traditionally made with atta, a durum flour that varies in bran content. I chose to use white whole wheat flour that gives the bread a similar texture but contains 100% of the bran. In my opinion, regular whole wheat flour makes naan rather gritty, so if you cannot find either atta or white whole wheat flour, I recommend ordinary all-purpose or bread flour.

Ingredients

 

Sourdough starter

250 grams

1 cup

Whole milk*

120 milliliters

½ cup

Nonfat Greek yogurt

80 grams

¼ cup

Baking powder

3 grams

1 teaspoon

Salt

3 grams

1 teaspoon

Flour

350 grams

2 cups

* substitute water or skim milk and 5 milliliters (1 teaspoon) melted butter or vegetable oil.

Method

Whisk the sourdough starter, milk (or substitute), yogurt, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the flour a bit at a time and stir in with a wooden spoon. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, with floured hands, knead gently until uniform. (The dough will be quite sticky.) Form into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rest in a warm place for 2 – 3 hours. (I use the rapid proofing function in my oven.) It will not rise quite as much as ordinary bread dough.

At the end of rise, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, again with floured hands, knead until smooth, a minute or two. Divide it into eight pieces—each should be about 100 gram (3½ ounces)—and form each into a small ball.

Preheat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Roll or pat each piece ball into a 6-mm (¼-inch) thick pear-shaped loaf.  Spritz or brush the dough with water and place it water-side down onto the griddle or skillet. Cook for about a minute until the dough bubbles and releases easily. With a bit of practice you will be able to recognize when the first side is done. Flip the naan over for another half minute or so. Transfer to a cooling rack and repeat with the remaining dough.

The naan can be served as is to accompany curries or other Indian dishes. Or you can brush them with a bit of melted butter, sprinkle seasonings like poppy seeds or minced garlic, and toast briefly under a broiler.

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