Nan is a teardrop shaped flatbread that originates from the Punjab region of northern India. Like turmeric rice, it's one of several starch dishes that are traditionally served with curries or with tandoori meat or chicken dishes. This makes sense, considering nan is baked in by slapping the dough onto the side of a hot tandoor oven. Tbe weight of the dough pulls the dough down the side of the oven, creating it's characteristic teardrop shape.
I don't have a tandoor and I'm not about to try and build one. We'll just have to trick the regular western oven into thinking it's a tandoor. This won't be a problem. Oven's are easy to hypnotize.
The central ingredients of this bread are yogurt and white flour. You can add an egg to the dough to enrich it, if you'd like, although I don't. Poppy seeds (like I did), sesame seeds, flaked almonds, garlic, onions or other spices can also be added to the dough, or mixed with melted butter and brushed on one side before cooking, to add more flavor.
The rise time is a little longer than most breads, although there's no proofing to worry about. The quick cooking time more than makes up for it. Nan is best eaten while still hot and fresh. It can be eaten the next day if you put it in a plastic bag, as soon as it's cool enough, to keep if from drying out. It's wonderful taste will pretty much rule out any being left over, though.
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup milk
3 1 /2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1 /2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons ghee or melted butter
Pour the milk into a bowl and sprinkle on the yeast. Leave it in a warm place for 5 minutes and then stir to dissolve.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour and all the salt. Make a well in the center. Add the dissolved yeast and milk, sugar, yogurt, and ghee or butter. Begin mixing the dough using a hand mixer with dough hooks, a stand mixer, or a wooden spoon. Add additional flour, a little at a time, until it all combines into a sticky, slightly stiff, dough. You may not need to use all the flour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Put the dough into a clean, oiled, bowl and cover with a dish towel. Place it in a warm area of the kitchen and let it rise until doubled in size, about 3 or 4 hours. Punch down the dough and let it rest for ten minutes.
Now we're going to start turning your oven into a makeshift tandoor. Turn on the broiler in your oven to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, if you can control it's temperature, to preheat it while you take the next step.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece and shape into a round loaf, about 6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick. Pull one side of the dough until it's about 10 inches long, and slightly teardrop shaped.
Place a baking sheet in the upper-middle of your oven, under the broiler, but not too close, for about 2 minutes. Place one or two pieces of dough onto the hot baking sheet. The number of pieces you can get on there will depend on the size of your baking sheet. Broil the pieces of dough for about 2 or 3 minutes per side, until puffy and golden. Use tongs so you don't burn yourself.
Stack the flat loaves on top of each other and cover with a clean, dry cloth to keep the crust soft and to prevent the bread from drying out.
Quick tip: You can make your own ghee by melting butter in a pan until it stops foaming. This is a signal that the water has boiled out. Pour the melted butter into a small bowl and let it cool completely. Homemade ghee!