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GHEE WHIZ! Part 3: Naan

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

When we came upon this delicious ghee, the first thing that hit us was to make an "Indian" meal with ghee throughout. All of it to end up on one plate. In part 1, the recipe was Khat Meeti Gobi (Sweet & Sour Cabbage). Part 2 presented Shahi Murgh (Royal Chicken). Our third part demonstrates how to make your own naan and talks about how we put the entire dinner together.

For the naan, we adapted a recipe in The Guardian. You'll never have to go searching for this treat.


What's better than homemade bread?

1 tsp. sugar

180 ml water

1 1/2 tsp yeast

300 g bread flour, plus extra to dust

1 tsp. salt

5 TB yogurt

2 TB melted ghee or butter, plus extra to brush.

A little vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray, to grease the rising bowl

1 tsp nigella (black onion), sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

Heat water to about 104 degrees. (A microwave is useful for this.) If you don't have an instant thermometer you can use the 'wrist test'. If a few drops of the water on the inside of your wrist feels very warm (but not really hot) that's fine. Add the sugar and yeast and stir. Let stand about 10 minutes. It should get frothy which shows the yeast is good and activated.

Put the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine then dump out onto a counter where you will be able to knead the dough. Stir the yogurt into the yeast mixture. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour the yogurt/yeast mixture and the melted ghee into the well.

Start to work the dough to make a soft, sticky mixture that is just firm enough to call a dough, but not at all dry. Yes, you can do this with just your hands, but it does help to have a 'bench knife' like this or this.

Knead for about five minutes until smooth and a little less sticky. The weather actually can affect the stickiness. If it is really too wet you can add a bit more flour and maybe decide to make one more naan than you expected. This is a procedure that can also be done in a food processor but we've found that you incorporate less flour (which is good) when you do it by hand. And besides, it is a bit more satisfying AND it means not having to clean the pesky pieces of the food processor. Do it a few times and you'll see.

Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat the dough with the oil.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a draft-free place until doubled in size: roughly one to two hours. The ambient temperature will affect this. We use a table top convection oven with an 80 degree F 'proofing' setting. But your kitchen might very well be relatively close to that temperature. As long as it is isn't REALLY cold, it WILL rise pretty quickly. For us it took just about an hour.

Tip the dough back out on to the lightly floured surface and lightly knock the air out, then divide into eight balls (or six if you have a particularly large pan). If you are going to eat the naan soon, turn your oven on low.

Prepare additional melted ghee and get out any seeds you might be using to garnish. (Note you could also use butter and/or olive oil to brush with.)

Heat a heavy large pan (we prefer cast iron for this) to about 450 degrees F. You want a very hot pan but not so hot as to burn the bread or cook it too quickly.

Flatten one of the balls and prod or roll it into a flat circle, slightly thicker around the edge. You don't have to have a rolling pin to do this as they will stretch. You don't want them TOO thick, but not so thin as to end up being tortillas. Perhaps about 1/8th inch. It's the sort of thing you get better at with practice.

Pick it up by the top to stretch it slightly into a teardrop shape, then put it in the hot pan. When it starts to bubble, turn it over and cook until the other side is browned in patches. Turn it back over and cook until there are no doughy bits remaining.

Brush with melted ghee and sprinkle with seeds, if using, and put in the oven to keep warm while you make the other breads.

TIP: You can make them a few hours ahead of time. We placed the finished naan in a tortilla holder with a towel, covered and left them. At dinner we nuked them in the microwave for about a minute.

This recipe makes six to eight naan depending on how you parse them out. If you don't want that much you can half the recipe and make 3 or 4.

Putting It All Together

As we mentioned at the top, our series on ghee has three parts...

The naan can be made in advance. The cabbage can be prepared, up to the point of cooking, in advance. We found that when using chicken thighs the final cooking time for the chicken was the same 10 minutes that the cabbage needed to cook (but still be crunchy) so the two could be finished and done at the same time.

We like rice with a meal like this and basmati is the go to choice. If you have any Indian pickles in your fridge or cupboard, now is the time to take them out!

So there you have it: a meal fit for royalty that you can do yourself. The Frentel Ghee at Howie's is where we started and how we'll finish. It's a real treat.

Here's the entire meal just before we ate it all.

WINE SUGGESTION: We've found Pinot Noir to be an excellent choice with Indian dishes. We drank an old one!

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