By Joe Kallevig
My quest for some at-home Naan bread on a snowy day was motivated by a recent trip to Bombay Deluxe (off Northern Lights just before Artic Boulevard in the Valhalla Center).
That, and the terrible driving conditions preventing me from getting into town during Anchorage’s spring snow offload. And while I’ve never had anything on the Bombay Deluxe menu that didn’t make me lust for more Vindaloo Indian dishes, at some point in spring I feel like it’s time to hang up the skis and avoid any further chances to ditch dive until next winter.
Bombay’s bread is baked just inside the front entrance. There you can see the cooks preparing and baking the bread through the windows separating the kitchen from the dining room. This is similar to how I saw “Iranian Bread” cooked in the Souq in Doha, Qatar.
The balls of dough are rolled and stretched out over the convex pad used to slap them to the inside surface of the clay oven. Traditional Naan is baked inside a blistering hot Tandoor clay oven with the inside of the oven cooking one side of the bread, and the open flame the other.
Alas, I’m ill equipped to operate an in-house Tandoor to make the Naan just right, so I improvised. I Googled Naan recipes and picked the consensus for traditional Indian style naan. I used one that incorporates a little egg, sugar, and milk into an ordinary bread recipe for a little more “rise,” which would usually derive from the heat of the clay oven.
I mixed and proofed my dough in the trusty Kitchen Aid and stretched my separated dough into individual flats. In lieu of a Tandoor oven, I went with my stovetop standby for all of my cooking needs—my biggest cast iron skillet: lightly conditioned with oil, even heat, high heat retention, and plenty of surface area.
Down to business: To my amazement, the dough took well to the pan and immediately bubbled with air and browned (medium heat, heated until the whole pan was uniformly hot). I was careful not to over oil the pan to ensure I ended up with something more resembling Naan than fry-bread. I carefully flipped the Naan after about 2 minutes to cook the other side and enjoyed my Naan with some quick homemade hummus and olive oil. Perfect appetizer before some homebrewed Pho whipped up for the deluge of spring snow.
In stay-at-home spring snow storms or a sunny summer day that doesn’t deserve time on the road, give some flatbread a shot. The next time you’re in a pinch for some toasty restaurant-esque Naan, pull out a heavy skillet and give it a try! May be just the thing to whip up on your Coleman stove the this summer at the beach?
Nutrition: Low fat, High Carb, (depending on garnish) Low Cost
Time: Active 15 Minutes (mixing, rolling, cooking
Inactive Prep: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes (rising twice)
About Joe Kallevig
Born and bred on the plains of Eastern Montana, Joe now finds himself advising Afghan Police on civil engineering for the NATO training mission in Western Afghan.
Joe’s love for cooking, food, and culture has followed him where bread builds trust and friendship among coalition members. Pizza parties with Italian forces and piles of Palao rice with Afghan troops have reinforced the power of food to bring people together. Joe’s most recent trips to the Middle East, Morocco, and Afghanistan provide inspiration for new recipes in an unending quest for unique and delicious combinations. He believes simple and natural personal cooking allow one to have control over the cost and nutritional benefit of the food we eat.