Monday, September 12, 2016

Easy Homemade Naan (Indian Flatbread)

My kids LOVE naan and an Indian dish called "Butter Chicken."  I recently found two sources of this magical Butter Chicken sauce, so I haven't made my own yet, but naan is certainly something you can make at home without having to go out in search of exotic spices or unfamiliar ingredients.  You may actually have all of these very common ingredients on hand already.

Naan is an oven-baked flatbread from Northern India.  It is found in the cuisines of West, Central, and Southern Asia.  Generally, it resembles a pita bread and is leavened with yeast.  Naan would authentically be cooked in a tandoor oven, from which tandoori cooking gets its name.   Buttermilk or yogurt is used rather than water to give the bread a distinctively tangy taste, and also results in a softer dough.  The bread is often used to scoop up other foods, like soups or gravies, or sometimes stuffed with a filling.  Often the dough may also be filled filled with aromatic seeds of this region of the world.

Print this recipe


Ingredients:
(yield - 8 servings)

  • 2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg

Step-by-Step:
In a small bowl, combine sugar, yeast and warm water.  The warm water activates the yeast and the sugar gives the yeast "something to eat."  LOL  That's what my mom used to always tell me.  
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 cup warm water
Stir to dissolve everything and just let it sit for a few minutes or until it gets frothy on top.

Once it gets frothy, whisk in the oil, yogurt and egg until everything is combined.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 large egg
stir to combine
In a separate medium bowl, combine 1 cup of flour with the salt.
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Pour the wet ingredients into the flour/salt mixture and stir until well combined.  
Continue adding the flour, a half cup at a time until you can no longer stir it with a spoon.  (About another 1.5cups or so.)
more all purpose flour
Now you can turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the ball of dough for about 3 minutes.  You can add small amounts of flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  You'll end up using a total of about 2.5 to 3 cups of flour total.  The dough should be smooth and very soft, but not too sticky.  Avoid using too much flour as you knead, or your dough will be too dry and stiff.

*If any of you are apprehensive about your kneading abilities, this should put your mind at ease.  If an 8 y/o can do it... YOU can do it.  It does NOT have to be perfect. 

Loosely cover the dough in an oiled bowl and allow it to rise until double in size (about 1 hour). After it rises, gently flatten the dough into a disc and cut it into 8 equal pieces.  
Hey look!  I actually got to do something!  :)  Whoop whoop!
Shape each piece of dough into a small bowl.


When you are ready to cook the pieces of naan, heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Working with one ball at a time, roll it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick or approximately 6 inches in diameter.  
Again, evidence that it doesn't have to be perfect.  This is "street food."
*I've read that for the most bubbles in the bread, you should not roll out the ball of dough until just before it is ready to be placed in the skillet.  And that medium heat produces the most bubbles in the dough without burning the surface.  You need to experiment with your skillet and your stovetop.

Place the rolled out piece of dough onto the hot skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown and large bubbles have formed on the surface.  You can see here that a couple bubbles are just beginning to form in my dough.  You do not need any oil of any sort in the pan. 
Flip the dough (I used a pair of long handled tongs) and cook the other side until golden brown as well.  
Stack the cooked naan on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm as you cook the remaining pieces. 
Serve plain or brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with herbs.
We ate ours with one of our favorite Indian foods, "Butter Chicken."  :)  But however you eat yours, make sure you have extra sauce on your plate because the naan is perfect for running around in all that yummy gravy!

Bonus Recipes:
Mongolian Beef

BLT Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Family Style Chicken Madeira

Mississippi Mud Puddles

Vietnamese-Style Lettuce Cups

Spicy Garlic Shrimp

Written Method:
1 - In a small bowl, combine sugar, yeast and warm water.  Stir to dissolve everything and just let it sit for a few minutes or until it gets frothy on top.  Once it gets frothy, whisk in the oil, yogurt and egg until everything is combined.

2 - In a separate medium bowl, combine 1 cup of flour with the salt.  Pour the wet ingredients into the flour/salt mixture and stir until well combined.  Continue adding the flour, a half cup at a time until you can no longer stir it with a spoon.  (About another 1.5 cups or so.)

3 - Now you can turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the ball of dough for about 3 minutes.  You can add small amounts of flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  You'll end up using a total of about 2.5 to 3 cups of flour total.  The dough should be smooth and very soft, but not too sticky.  Avoid using too much flour as you knead, or your dough will be too dry and stiff.

*If any of you are apprehensive about your kneading abilities, this should put your mind at ease.  If an 8 y/o can do it... YOU can do it.  It does NOT have to be perfect.

4 - Loosely cover the dough in an oiled bowl and allow it to rise until double in size (about 1 hour). After it rises, gently flatten the dough into a disc and cut it into 8 equal pieces.
Shape each piece of dough into a small bowl.

5 - When you are ready to cook the pieces of naan, heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Working with one ball at a time, roll it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick or approximately 6 inches in diameter.
*I've read that for the most bubbles in the bread, you should not roll out the ball of dough until just before it is ready to be placed in the skillet.  And that medium heat produces the most bubbles in the dough without burning the surface.  You need to experiment with your skillet and your stovetop.

6 - Place the rolled out piece of dough onto the hot skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown and large bubbles have formed on the surface.  You can see here that a couple bubbles are just beginning to form in my dough.  You do not need any oil of any sort in the pan. 
Flip the dough (I used a pair of long handled tongs) and cook the other side until golden brown as well.
Stack the cooked naan on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm as you cook the remaining pieces. 
Serve plain or brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with herbs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Jar Lid Hand Pies

Straight up, this is a public service announcement!  I saw this SOMEwhere, and instantly I knew I HAD to do it.  These were just too precious, and too easy not to share.  After I made them and posted a couple of photos on my personal page, there were so many people who shared memories of doing this as a kid.  Like "I used to make 'baby pies' out of pie dough scraps in mayonnaise lids," etc.  It turned out to be a fun walk down memory lane.  Who knew?!  Funny thing about stuff like that - the old, simple ways sometimes got forgotten by fast moving, high tech stuff... but revisiting the old stuff can be SO MUCH FUN! 

I could totally see these being perfect for anything from a dinner party to a bridal luncheon to a picnic.  And on the other end of the spectrum, these would also make great savory pies.  Just imagine the possibilities - meat pies, taco pies, chicken pot pies, you name it! 

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients: 
  • Pie dough
    • I used Pillsbury rollout pie dough
    • 2 boxes (will have 1 pie dough left over)
  • Pie filling of your choice
    • I used caramel apple, cherry, blackberry
  • Water to seal the crust
  • 1 egg yolk for the egg wash
  • Natural sugar crystals (optional)

Step-by-Step:
Prepare pie fillings of your choice, whether they are sweet or savory.
Set out mason jar lids and rings on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  I placed them on parchment paper for easy cleanup.  You can purchase a box of lids/rings (without jars) in a quantity of 12.  These are the "wide mouth" lids, not the "standard" ones. 
Roll out your pie dough, sprinkled with a bit of flour of course.
So I went super low tech for all of this.  Instead of using any type of fancy cutters, I looked around and found a bowl that was about 1/2" larger than the lids.
I used the bowl to cut what would be the bottom dough. 

Fit the dough into the lids.  So far, easy peesy.  :)  And yes, we want the dough to be hanging over the top like this. 
Fill each little pie with about 3 Tbsp of filling.  Nope, I didn't measure anything.  I just filled until they looked right.  HaHa
For the top dough, I found a bowl that was a bit smaller than the first one.  (But still a tad bit larger than the lid.)
Remember, you can always roll the dough out if you need to stretch it a little bit larger to cover your filling.
Wet the edges of the bottom dough with water.
Cut slits in your top dough to allow the steam to escape.
Cover the pie with your top dough.
Crimp the top and bottom doughs together with a fork.
You don't have to do this, but I trimmed the excess dough a bit with a paring knife.
I made a quick and simple egg wash with 1 egg yolk and about a tablespoon of water whisked together.  I didn't even measure it.  Brush the egg wash over the crusts to help them brown nicely.  
(Optional)  Sprinkle the top with natural (raw) sugar crystals.
Bake at 375F for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown and until you no longer have any translucent areas on your crust.  Can you see now why I put the parchment paper under them?  
Allow to cool.  The ring/lid combination acts like a miniature tart pan that will allow you to pop the tiny little pies out when you are ready to serve them.  There's no struggling to get that first "ugly" piece out.  
Each person can get their own, perfect little pie!  Well... maybe a scoop of ice cream would make it even more perfect!  

Here are some bonus recipes for you:

Written Method:

  • Prepare pie fillings of your choice, whether they are sweet or savory.
  • Set out mason jar lids and rings on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  I placed them on parchment paper for easy cleanup.  You can purchase a box of lids/rings (without jars) in a quantity of 12.  These are the "wide mouth" lids, not the "standard" ones. 
  • Roll out your pie dough, sprinkled with a bit of flour of course.
  • Instead of using any type of fancy cutters, I looked around and found a bowl that was about 1/2" larger than the lids.  I used the bowl to cut what would be the bottom dough. 
  • Fit the dough into the lids.  And yes, we want the dough to be hanging over the top. 
  • Fill each little pie with about 3 Tbsp of filling.  No need to really measure anything.  Just fill until they look right.  
  • For the top dough, find a bowl that is a bit smaller than the first one.  (But still a tad bit larger than the lid.)
  • Remember, you can always roll the dough out if you need to stretch it a little bit larger to cover your filling.
  • Wet the edges of the bottom dough with water.
  • Cut slits in your top dough to allow the steam to escape.
  • Cover the pie with your top dough and crimp the top and bottom doughs together with a fork.
  • You don't have to do this, but I trimmed the excess dough a bit with a paring knife.
  • I made a quick and simple egg wash with 1 egg yolk and about a tablespoon of water whisked together.  I didn't even measure it.  Brush the egg wash over the crusts to help them brown nicely.  
  • (Optional)  Sprinkle the top with natural (raw) sugar crystals.
  • Bake at 375F for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown and until you no longer have any translucent areas on your crust.    
  • Allow to cool.  The ring/lid combination acts like a miniature tart pan that will allow you to pop the tiny little pies out when you are ready to serve them.  There's no struggling to get that first "ugly" piece out.  
  • Each person can get their own, perfect little pie!  Well... maybe a scoop of ice cream would make it even more perfect!  

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