I was reading an Alton Brown (of Food Network) article recently in which he talked about how having a single use implement has no place in a home kitchen. I agree with him for the most part, the strong exception being my chai (Indian tea) making utensils which get used multiple times a day and are pretty much not used for anything else.
Anyway, in keeping with that philosophy I had been thinking about making naan (leavened indian bread) and tandoori roti (unleaved indian bread) on a pizza stone. The thinking was this – a tandoor (Indian clay oven with a real fire raging inside – more here) imparts heat to the bread from both the wall where you stick the bread and the actual fire inside the oven. So the bread gets baked from two sides. In theory a pizza stone works the same way – there is ambient heat in the oven and the pizza stone is preheated to the oven temperature. I was quite pleased with myself for coming up with this but very quickly realized that I am not the first genius that came up with this idea. A Google search on “Pizza Stone Naan” delivers plenty of hits. Suitably chastised with my ego back to where it started from, I tried to make tandoori roti on a pizza stone at my in-laws place. It was an unmitigated disaster. The bread was tough, uncooked and generally unpleasant. SIDE NOTE: I have yet to figure out a good way to make tandoori roti. Every attempt so far has been disastrous.
So I went back and licked my wounds and thought some more. Given my past history with tandoori roti, I chalked it up as a loss and decided to try making naan. I figured that since homemade pizza turns out pretty well and naan dough is not too dissimilar from a pizza dough, you get the picture. This time I struck gold. The naan was nice, soft and flavorful albeit a little dry. The dryness will be something I will need to work on the next time I make this.
The recipe idea came from here though I modified it somewhat.
INGREDIENTS (for 3 naans)
1. Warm the water (about 105 F) and dissolve sugar in it.
2. Add the yeast and let it bubble and froth. Should take about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the salt and egg and mix.
4. Add the flour and start kneading.
5. Add as much milk as is needed to make a soft dough. Shouldn’t take a whole lot of milk. Add 1 Tbsp at a time.
6. Grease a bowl and put the dough in there for 1 hour covered with a damp cloth and then a cling wrap on top. The dough will double in size.
7. Punch down the dough and make it into three balls.
8. Cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes.
9. Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450F.
10. Let the pizza stone stay in the oven for about 30 minutes after the temperature is reached.
11. Roll out the dough balls into circles about 8-9 inches in diameter and slightly less than a 1/4 inch in thickness. TIP: Sprinkle the Kalonji seeds on the circles as you are rolling them to embed the seeds in the dough.
12. Stretch out the circle on one side to get an elongated oval and stick in the oven on the pizza stone. You may be able to do one, two or three at a time depending on the size of your stone.
13. Watch the naan cook and rise. It should develop some brown spots on top in about 2-3 minutes.
14. Take out of the oven and enjoy with an accompaniment of your choice or just eat them plain!
NOTE: I think this dough would also make a great pizza dough. I am going to try that and let you know the results.