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Naan




This yeast-risen bread should be cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor, which is why it is often called tandoori naan. However, it is still worth trying in a conventional griller or oven.

Makes 8.

Ingredients

30 g/1 oz fresh compressed yeast or 1 sachet dried yeast
3 tablespoons lukewarm water
3 teaspoons white sugar
125 ml/4 fl oz/1/2 cup natural yoghurt
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons melted ghee or butter
2 teaspoons salt
approx. 500 g/1 lb plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tablespoons poppy seeds or nigella seeds

Directions

Sprinkle yeast over 3 tablespoons warm water in a bowl and leave for 5 minutes to soften, then stir to dissolve. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes or until it froths. If it doesn't froth, check the expiry date of the yeast and start again with a fresh batch.

In a small bowl beat half the yoghurt until smooth, mix in remaining 2 teaspoons sugar, beaten egg, ghee or butter, salt, and an extra 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Stir in dissolved yeast.

Put 2 cups flour into a large bowl, pour in liquid and beat hard until a smooth batter forms. Add remaining flour a little at a time and when it becomes too stiff to stir, knead on a floured board for at least 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a warm, greased bowl. Turn dough over once so top is greased. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in bulk (time will vary according to room temperature). Test by pushing a finger gently into the dough. If it holds an impression it is ready. If the hole fills up, leave dough longer.

Punch down the dough and divide into 8 equal balls. Leave to rest for 10 minutes. Shape each ball of dough into a circle thinner in the centre than the edges. Pull one side of the circle outwards, forming a teardrop shape about 20 cm (8 in) long and 12 cm (5 in) wide at the base. The size governs how thick the bread will be, which is especially important when grilling.

To grill: Preheat grill on medium heat. Spray loaves lightly with water or brush with some of the remaining yoghurt and sprinkle lightly with seeds. Place on tray as many as will fit without touching and grill, about 12 cm (5 in) away from heat source. Grill for at least 3 minutes on each side or until risen and golden brown. It is important not to have the heat too close or the outside will brown but the inside may be doughy and half raw.

To bake: Preheat oven to very hot, 230 degrees C (450degrees F). Preheat 2 ungreased baking trays. Brush loaves with remaining yoghurt and sprinkle with seeds. Place 2 or 3 loaves on each baking tray and bake for 10 minutes or until risen and golden.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)