Typically, the lefse griddle gets packed away around Christmas time, just after my husband makes his last batch of the Norwegian-style flat-bread made of potato, cream, butter and flour. So, he was a bit puzzled when he came home the other day and saw the lefse griddle in the kitchen.
I had just finished making a batch of naan, an Indian flatbread similar to pita. After buying naan in the grocery store this winter to serve with breads and stews, I decided it was time to save some money and try making my own naan.
I contacted my friend, Sherbanoo Aziz. I have her cookbook, “Sherbanoo’s Indian Cuisine: Tantalizing Tastes of the Indian Subcontinent.” Sherbanoo kindly gave me permission to share her recipe for naan.
I was so surprised to discover how easy it was to mix up the dough. Sherbanoo suggests mixing the dough in a food processor or you can just use your fingers. I used my food processor.
I used White Wheat Whole Grain Flour from Dakota Family Mill. It offers the same health benefits as regular whole wheat flour, but it is lighter in color, produces a finished product that is not as heavy as that created with whole wheat flour and has a much milder taste. It worked beautifully in the naan.
I got busy with other things as the dough rested under a damp kitchen towel, so I may have ignored it for a little longer than the two hours as directed in the recipe. It didn’t seem to matter. The dough was soft and easy to work with. I didn’t need to put any flour on my board for rolling out the dough. It just didn’t stick at all.
As soon as the dough hit the hot griddle, bubbles of steam formed. Within seconds, the bottom of the naan started to turn golden brown. I transferred the naan to a baking sheet I had in the oven heating up under the broiler. Two seconds later, the naan looked like a blowfish in my oven.
I rolled out one piece of dough at a time, leaving the remaining balls under the towel so they wouldn’t dry out. As the first couple of naan came out from under the broiler, I was wishing I’d had a partner helping me so that I could take time to eat one of the warm naan.
First, I ate a soft, tender naan plain. Next, I smeared a warm naan with some whipped honey from Moonstone Farm in Montevideo, Minnesota. I don’t think they eat them with honey in India, but it was so delicious. Before heading out for an hour of snowshoeing, I spread a thick layer of organic peanut butter on a naan and rolled a banana up inside. Perfect snack!
Naan will freeze well. I’ll have them handy to enjoy with the next pot of stew I make. Or maybe I’ll make tandoori chicken or a nice curry dish. And, I’ll brush the naan with olive oil and sprinkle it with minced fresh garlic.
Sherbanoo’s cookbook is sold out, but I did notice a couple of used copies available on Amazon.
The lefse griddle went back to its spot on a shelf in the basement. I have a feeling it won’t be sitting there until lefse season next November. I’ll be making more naan. Don’t worry, though, if you don’t have a lefse griddle. Sherbanoo suggests using a frying pan on the stove.“Sherbanoo’s Indian Cuisine: Tantalizing Tastes of the Indian Subcontinent,” by Sherbanoo Aziz)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (I used White Wheat Whole Grain Flour)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons) dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 cup warm water
In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour, salt and sugar. Add oil and yeast that has been dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water. Process to mix. While processor is running, gradually add 1 cup warm water. Dough will begin to come together. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough is slightly softer than for a pie crust.
Put the ball of dough in a bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Set aside for 2 hours. The dough will rise. Knead the dough by hand.
Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Cover with the damp towel. Take one piece at a time and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 5- to 6-inch round.
Place a dry frying pan on the stove over high heat. Cook one side of naan for 15 seconds. Transfer naan to a baking sheet placed under the broiler in the oven. Cook under the broiler, browned side down, for 30 to 40 seconds, until it rises.
Set in a serving basket. Serve warm. Makes 16 naan.