Tony and I are on a much-needed vacation this week. Poor grad students that we are, we couldn’t afford much, so we’re at Mom and Dad’s Pennsylvania house for the week doing what we love: cooking, eating, and drinking. We’re also doing a little homework, taking long walks, and reading for pleasure. But mostly, we’re cooking.
Our first night here, we made a simple but incredible sausage and broccoli pasta and enjoyed a long cheese course in front of the fire. The next night (which was much warmer) we grilled steaks and pimeton-coated potato slices and finished with my favorite winter salad: sliced cabbage with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Last night, we decided on a long-simmering chicken and potato curry. Since we had the time, we bought a whole chicken and I taught Tony how to cut it down into parts and how to de-skin and de-bone it. We threw the bones into the curry, too, while it cooked to give it more body and flavor.
I won’t make Indian food without making naan. And since the curry already had potatoes in it, we decided to skip rice and just make the flatbreads. As I usually do, I went to our website to look for my recipe. WHAT?! I’ve never posted a recipe for naan? I could swear I had! I made a metal note to remedy that…ASAP.
After good old rustic loaves, naan is probably my favorite bread to make. And it’s one of the only breads that I don’t pull out my food processor for. In order to achieve the perfectly soft, pillowy texture I love so much, I take a little extra time and develop a little extra arm muscle in order to stir it by hand. I love that the recipe I’ve been using for years requires—in a quirky and unexplained way—that the dough must be stirred in the same direction for the entire time. I am not sure why this is necessary, but I always do it.
As the curry simmered and the naan dough rose, we went out and played some Frisbee and Tony taught me how to throw and catch a baseball…properly. Barring one minor incident where I missed the ball and caught it with me chest, it went pretty well! (I’ve got a sweet bruise to show for myself, too.) We experimented with cocktails, arranged heavenly cheese course part two, and sat down to watch the funny-yet-tragic documentary King Corn.
Mid-movie, the dough was ready and the curried chicken was fall-apart tender. So we pressed pause, quickly shaped and baked the dough, and were back in front of our movie in under 20 minutes. Did I mention naan only takes about 7 minutes in the oven?
So, without further ado, here is my 2nd favorite bread, the constant companion of my Indian meals, and my breakfast for days after those meals. The softest, most tender, and delicious naan I’ve ever made. My old friend.
I’m with you, Sharon – I can always forgo the rice, but I won’t eat curry without fresh, pillow-y naan. Your recipe is really and truly the best. I love the garlic naan most. But Andy prefers peshwari – maybe you could learn to make that for him? 🙂
Kathy - Panini Happy says
I’m with you, when I’m on vacation I find it so relaxing to do a lot of cooking. Enjoy your time away!
Barbara | VinoLuciStyle says
I need a vacation and yours sounds perfect. Just getting away is all it takes. The cooking is still fun!
I usually love to cook on vacation, but these past two weeks I’ve been in Israel and Palestine where everyone else has done the cooking. There’s something to be said for that too!
I’ll never forget your making naan for the the first time, Sharon. Was it for my birthday?
I am a fairly accomplished bread baker but have never tried naan, and I’m interested in this recipe. Please clarify “let rise in a cool place.” Refrigerator? I have some yeast roll recipes that specify an overnight rise in the fridge, but am not sure that is what you have in mind. I live in the deep south and, this time of year, there aren’t that many “cool places” in my kitchen!
Good question! A “cool place” is not the refrigerator. It’s more like…the basement. Doesn’t have to be that cool. Just not in the sun or right next to the oven.
It’s not that important either, I’ve let it rise in the sun to speed it up. It just develops more flavor if you let it rise for the full 8 hours.
HA! No basements, either, here in the soggy MS Delta. But I get the idea. Thank you, Sharon.