afghan home-style naan

not many people realize that our neighborhood has one of the largest kurdish populations in the country.  as a result, many of the shops cater to our kurdish neighbors.  it was in one of these shops that we experienced authentic naan for the first time.  the owner of the shop was so friendly and welcoming that he actually allowed me to go to the back of the shop and watch the ladies shape and bake the bread in a tandoor oven.

we may not have a tandoor oven in our kitchen, but that hasn’t stopped me from making naan at home.  it is such a simple, quick to mix bread dough that it can easily be on the table in couple hours.  the recipe i used was adapted from the classic book, flatbreads and flavors by jeffrey alford and naomi duguid.

the bread is rolled out on a sprinkling of sesame seeds so that they become embedded in the dough.  the dough gets slashed in a star pattern to prevent bubbles from forming.  then it goes into the oven and bakes up very quickly on a hot stone or quarry tiles.

the recipe calls for all whole wheat flour but i used substituted 1 cup of bread flour because i ran short on whole wheat.  even so, the bread is still chock full of whole grain goodness!

the loaves baked up very quickly on the stone in about ten minutes. 

typical of a freshly baked naan, it is spongy and chewy.  the sesame seeds give it a nice crunch and a nutty flavor.

afghan home-style naan
makes 6 loaves
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-115F)
1 cup cold plain, whole milk yogurt
1 cup boiling water
approximately 5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons safflower or corn oil (i used olive oil)
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons sesame seeds
sprinkle the yeast over the 1/2 cup of warm water in a large bowl and stir it to dissolve it.  place the yogurt in a small bowl and stir in the boiling water.  whisk it to combine and allow it to cool to 105-115F.  stir the yogurt mixture into the yeast .  
to make the sponge, stir 3 cups of flour into the yeast mixture.  stir it in one direction for 2 minutes. cover with plastic and let stand for 30 minutes.
sprinkle the oil and salt over the dough and begin adding the flour, 1/2 cup at a time to form a soft dough.  you can do this by hand or in a mixer with the dough hook.  i used the mixer.  knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic and cleans the sides of the bowl (for mixer users) and for the hand kneaders, the dough should not be sticky-this will take about 10 minutes.  place the dough in an oiled bowl to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
place a stone or quarry tiles in the oven and heat it to 450F.  punch the dough down and divide it into 6 equal pieces.  shape each piece into a 4-5 inch disk with a little flour to prevent sticking.  cover with a towel and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.  using the least amount of flour possible, roll the dough out until it starts to stretch.  brush off the flour and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon sesame seeds onto the work surface.  put the dough on top of the seeds and begin rolling it out to a rectangle that is 6″x10″.  turn the dough over.  using a razor or a knife, cut 5 (1″) slashes in a star pattern into the dough-i used a pizza wheel.  place the dough on a well floured peel and slide it onto the heated stone.  bake until it begins to show some golden brown on the top-don’t let it get to dark or the bread will be crispy rather than spongy.  place the hot bread on a rack to cool.  repeat the steps with the other 5 rounds of dough.

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