A couple of days ago Jim and I were desperate for good Indian food. Good Indian food here in Medford, Oregon is naan-existent😊. However, we did find the Saag Paneer at India’s Kitchen very acceptable. OK so here’s the plan, Jim decided to make Chicken Tikka Masala and he decided that Naan couldn’t be that difficult so he’s make this dish as well. So we had a protein and a starch, but what to do about veggy??? Now you’re all scratching your heads and screaming into you laptops advising us to go to India’s Kitchen and get an order of take out, which is exactly what we did, thank you very much.
We sit down to eat. Jim’s Chicken Tikki Masala was delicious but lacking something. But the discussion on this topic was suspended when we dove into the Naan and Saag, both were delicious, but the Naan was over the top best I’ve had.
Naan is a leavened flat bread originating from northern India, which is traditionally baked by slapping the bread dough onto the side of a hot dome shaped clay oven referred to as a tandoor. The dough’s weight would normally cause it to fall into a teardrop shape, which is the recognizable characteristic of naan bread, however, with changes in baking processes there are now a variety of shapes from round to oval that are readily produced. Jim did his Naan on a pizza stone in the grill. His Naan was dense and chewy, with just a hint of salt. Best Naan I have ever had.
So I finally realized what the Chicken Tikki Masala was missing – coconut milk. Jim wouldn’t accept my revelation, made the argument that he never came across this ingredient in all the recipes he researched, wouldn’t budge. So I went right to the most reliable source I knew, called Flavor of India in Santa Barbara, California. Owner confirmed their Chicken Tikki Masala was made with copious amounts of coconut milk, otherwise dish would lack richness and depth. He also asked the question, why hadn’t he seen me in his restaurant? I let him know I was living far away to which he replied that didn’t matter he wants me in his restaurant a least once a week.
So three take aways from this posting. One, make your Chicken Tikki Masala with coconut milk. Two, use the attached recipe to make your Naan, delicious. Three, supplement with a take out dish. Indian is difficult and if usually has a lot of steps, give yourself a break.
3/4 cup water, lukewarm
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons buttermilk, or yogurt
2 cups bread flour, 250 grams
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water. Sprinkle sugar over top. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Whisk in olive oil and buttermilk (or yogurt). Sprinkle flour and salt over top. Mix until combined. Dough will be really wet and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. (Note: To create a warm spot, turn your oven on for 1 minute, then shut it off – it will be barely warm.)
3. Let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. Forty-five minutes before baking, place pizza stone on grill and set burners on high. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and turn dough to coat. Divide dough into golf ball-sized sections. Dough will be sticky, so just try to handle it minimally using as much flour as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands and your work surface. Shape each section into a ball and let rest for at least 20 minutes before shaping but up to an hour if necessary.
4. Use your hands to gently stretch the dough, either in the air gently pulling the edges to stretch it evenly or along your work surface using all of your fingers to elongate it. You can fit two of these ovals at a time on the stone. Wet your fingers and lightly rub surface of dough with water. Carefully lay each oval on the stone and close the lid.
5. Bake two minutes. Flip using tongs. Bake 1 minute. Remove from oven. Brush with butter. Repeat with remaining rounds.