Friday, July 9, 2010

Grillable Bread - Onion Naan

We're nearly out of our usual no-knead bread. I try to get a ton of bread baked and stashed in the chest freezer by mid-May, so that we have homemade bread all summer without the need to heat the house up by baking. Baking is a winter habit in our home. Alas, I was low on the bread flour we buy in 50-pound bags, and I didn't want to buy another one and hold it over the summer because this flour contains the germ of the wheat. Wheat germ contains fat, which goes rancid rather quickly in warm weather. So keeping 50 pounds of the stuff was out of the question with our summers.

Enter this recipe for naan, made with all purpose flour, and able to be grilled on a charcoal or gas grill. This is a fast rising dough, needing only 1 hour in warm weather to be ready for shaping and cooking. I usually give the dough more than that, part of the time in the refrigerator to slow it down and allow flavor to develop. I adapted this recipe from one by Mark Bittman, from his Best Recipes in the World cookbook. Leave it to me to figure I could improve on the best. This recipe makes a dozen flatbreads.

Grilled Onion Naan

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. live culture yogurt
2 Tbsp. milk
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly diced
2 tsp. salt
4 cups all purpose flour (you can substitute a whole grain flour for a small part of this volume)
1 egg
3/4 cup water
extra flour for kneading
oil for the bowl

Thoroughly combine the yeast, sugar, yogurt and milk in a small bowl. Set this aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the diced onion, flour and salt. Process for about 30 seconds so that the onion is finely diced. Add the egg and process another 15 seconds. With the blade running, add the yogurt mixture through the feeding tube. Then add the water in a moderate stream until a more or less uniform ball of dough forms. You may not need to add all the water. The dough should be fairly sticky but not as liquid as a batter. Add water or flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough is either excessively dry or wet.

Take the dough out and place it on a well floured board. Knead it 8-10 times and form a ball. Place this ball in an oiled bowl with a capacity at least twice the volume of the dough. Cover and place in a draft-free spot for 1-2 hours, or keep in the fridge for 5-6 hours.

When ready to shape, take the dough out and form it into a thick roll on the floured board. The roll should be about 2 1/2 inches thick and about 20 inches long. Cut it in half and then in quarters. Cut each quarter into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a little ball and set them on the board. When they are all finished, cover them loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Let them rest for 15 minutes.
Holding the dough in your hands, shape each ball of dough into a flat oblong, roughly 5 by 9 inches. Start by thinning the dough in the center and then work outward in a circular fashion. Let the dough hang from your fingers, always working at the top, turning it, gently pulling it, gradually stretching the edge so that the dough elongates and thins. Each naan should be quite thin in the middle, slightly thicker at the edge, but try not to have any paper thin areas as these will burn quickly on a grill. If you stretch one part too thin (hold it up to a light to tell), pinch the dough together over that area to make it thicker. Dust the shaped naans with a little flour and place them on a baking sheet as you finish each one.

Cook the naan over a moderate charcoal fire or high heat on a gas grill. Holding the naan on your fully open hand, slap the dough down on the grill and make sure no part of it folds over on itself. Don't overcrowd the grill. Keep an eye on them as they can move from cooked to burnt in very little time. They will cook very quickly, no more than 2-3 minutes on the first side, and less on the second. Keep tongs handy to turn them so each side is nicely cooked. If you wish, you can brush the naan with melted butter or garlicky olive oil as you remove them from the grill.

These naan go well with just about any grilled meat and are much better than store-bought buns when folded in half for hamburgers. They also compliment BLTs and Indian dishes. Or put some good, soft, thinly sliced cheese on the naan while still on the grill, as soon as the first side is done and you flip them over.  We've been making these naan quite often. It's not the same as the multi-grain round loaves we like to slice and toast to eat with our eggs, but it's good fresh bread that doesn't heat up the house. You can also omit the onion if you want a more all purpose bread, but you'll need to add just a bit more water when mixing the dough. They'll also bake up well on a preheated baking stone in a hot oven if you want to make them indoors in wintertime.


Anonymous said...

Fine Cooking magazine had an article about grilling breads, and we've had great success with naan. I like not heating up the kitchen. Check out FC's recipe here:

Wendy said...

Those look great! I've been loath to turn on oven, because it's been so hot here, and so bread has been something we're not eating a lot of. I could totally get behind making grilled breads, though ... and as soon as we get that outdoor kitchen constructed, it would be cool to have a flat bread we could throw on the wood-fired grill ;).

Thanks for the recipe and instructions.

esp said...

This is a great idea -- we'll probably be trying this recipe sometime this weekend. We eat a *lot* of Indian food but I've been trying not to heat up the kitchen any more than we absolutely have to.

Amy L. said...

We love naan at our house, but I've never tried making it ourselves. Can you freeze it (or the dough)?

Kate said...

Anon, thanks for the link. Their recipe makes an even bigger batch than mine does. Have you made these? I've only once made stuffed naan, and it was a "dessert" naan with dried fruits and nuts, cooked in the oven in winter time. Mighty good, that.

Wendy, thanks. I'm right there with you in avoiding oven use right about now. An outdoor bread oven is on my (endless) list too, but it's definitely not happening this year. So for now, we use the Weber grill.

esp, hope you enjoy it. You might also try adding some fresh herb to the dough that will compliment whatever Indian dish it's intended for.

Amy, it never lasts that long here, though I did keep half a batch of the raw dough in the fridge for a few days on one occasion. It certainly should freeze just fine once cooked, provided it's well wrapped. As for freezing the dough, my strong hunch is it would be fine too, but I haven't tried it. Pizza dough freezes just fine, so I can't see why this wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Oh - must try that! I do love me some naan.

I did "skillet corn bread" or "corncakes" last night...basically cornbread cooked like pancakes. Very hearty, quick, no oven needed. Good simple recipe is half cornmeal, half yogurt, 1/4 tsp of baking soda per cup of flour.

Anonymous said...

These look delicious and I've been looking for a naan recipe - might have to give these a try tonight.

Kate said...

Emily, the cornbread pancakes sound good too. Corn is one grain we could potentially produce a lot of here. Though corn is a notoriously heavy feeder, so it would take a lot of management to do it sustainably.

urbanadaptation, hope they turned out well for you.

Anonymous said...

Kate, I have made the naan from Fine Cooking, and they're deeelish. I like that I can use any herbs, cheese or other ingredients I have on hand to fill the naan and they always turn out great. We've used The Big Green Egg smoker and the gas grill to make these.

Paula Adams Perez said...

Another no-bake "bread" I love is injera (Ethiopian flatbread). I learned about it from my customers at the natural food store where I work. There is a good recipe at recipezaar if you google it. Basically it is just teff flour(a dark African grain) and water. The authentic stuff is fermented for 3 days, but I prefer it after only one or two days. It is gluten-free too!

I am so excited that I scored a 5.3 cu ft. chest freezer from for $30 this week! Let the savings begin!

Anonymous said...

I have wondered whether naan would work on a bbq grill, I think you have just answered my question :-)
I love naan, an easy, tasty bread that can be matched with so many things.
A peshwari naan is my all time favourite type- oh sweet goodness!

Paula Adams Perez said...

Hi Kate,
I wanted to thank you for the kale seeds I received. I would like to reciprocate, but I don't have any seeds on hand except packaged brand ones. I noticed that you are collecting herbs - do you have mother's wort? I have a few plants and I could save seed for you this year. Not sure I have anything else of interest...

Farmgirl Cyn said...

I have a naan recipe I found on recipezaar or one of those food sites, and it is a favorite here! Mine has finely minced garlic in the dough, and I usually cook them in a hot cast iron skillet, but will definitely try the grill.

Kate said...

Anon, good to know. Maybe I'll give them a try.

Paula, I know injera from my days of eating out in Adams Morgan. I remember it had an alarming tendency to expand in the stomach, making it very dangerous to overeat by even a little. Your chest freezer score is amazing! Congratulations!

As for the seeds, glad you got the kale. And I don't have motherwort, so I'd love some seeds. Thanks!

cityhippyfarmgirl, I've made something similar to peshwari naan - kandahari naan. I fill it with golden raisins, ground almonds, and shredded coconut. It's insanely delicious; I treat it like dessert. Never made that one on the grill though.

Farmgirl Cyn, I thought of trying this with garlic too or instead of the onion. We're just waiting on the garlic we harvested just recently to cure. Can't go wrong with garlic!

Lynn said...

I tried your naan recipe on Saturday morning. Made the dough the night before, refrigerated over night and baked 12 flat breads in our outdoor wood-fired cob oven on Saturday morning. The recipe worked really well!

Kate said...

Lynn, I'm glad to hear the recipe worked out well for you. Thanks for letting me know.

Marie Morton said...

This was SO GOOD! Only had green onions in my garden, so I substituted those. Absolutely heavenly!