I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the different “diet” types, how our family has dabbled in a bit of them all, and where we fall on the continuum. At one point or another we’ve been grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-fat, high-fat, low-carb, high-raw and just about any other hyphenated eating habit you can think of. I wouldn’t say that any of them are inherently bad or good, they just are. And I think it’d be better if we all just ate what made us feel well, without a label, and within the paradigm of a sustainable food culture.
Let me explain.
Since I work at developing recipes that run the gamete from traditional to fermented to grain-free to the beginner cook, I am particularly aware of the nuances (and internal struggles) found within these food circumstances, especially since we’ve been there ourselves. And oftentimes when I work on a recipe such as this naan, filled with un-fermented grains and gluten, I find a tendency within myself to label it as one of those “bad” recipes, or at least some what of a “treat”.
I kind of hate that I’ve trained myself to think that way. For some, this is a recipe they could not eat, and for those with food intolerances or allergies, that is not a myth. For others, it is a bread they might make when they felt like splurging. Still, for others it could be an every day bread. All of these circumstances are real, but none of them are bad.
Instead of dividing over such things, I propose we find commonality. And I think that homemade, no matter what we’re eating, is a good place to start.
Recently, when I’ve been baking less and less, I realized a very important fact that I believe Michael Pollan once put much more eloquently than I’m about to. You eat far less treats and baked goods if you make them yourself. The ingredients, the dishes, the time in the kitchen; it’s all there right in front of your face. Homemade makes a difference.
And I believe that’s what causes us to be more mindful. When we’re staring down the consequences of our food choices, we make better ones. In the end, labels and food moralism and the division that (I think) comes from having the wealth to think about such things, fades into the background when we all just roll up our sleeves and spend time in the kitchen.
So, let’s cook… and let’s eat.
I use whey in my naan, but I list a replacement using yogurt and water. The amount of yeast listed for this particular bread is high and results in a bread that can be ready within 75 minutes. For a slower rise, and better overall flavor, you can lower the yeast to 1 teaspoon and allow for a rising time double that listed in the recipe below.
Yield: 6 dough balls
- 1 packet active yeast
- 3⁄4 cup whey or 1/2 cup yogurt + 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Combine the whey (or warm water) and active yeast in a large mixing bowl and allow to proof for 5-10 minutes, or until bubbles begin to form. Mix in yogurt (if using), olive oil, and honey. Add flour and salt and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.
- Begin kneading in the bowl or on a floured work surface, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. The dough should not be dry, but it also should be workable without it sticking to your hands. Knead for about 7-8 minutes.
- Remove dough from bowl and place on a plate or towel. Wash bowl, dry, and oil the bottom and sides. Place dough back into bowl and flip so that the oiled side of the dough is up. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes – 1 hour.
- When dough has risen, punch it down. Begin heating a cast-iron skillet or griddle over high heat. Divide your dough into 6-8 dough balls. On a floured work surface, roll dough into a rectangle as thin as you can without the dough ripping. To create a tear-drop shape, hold the dough up by a shorter end of the rectangle and allow to stretch downward before placing on the very hot griddle.
- Cook 2-3 minutes on the first side, until it bubbles up nicely. Flip, and cook the second side for 2-3 minutes. Remove to a platter and brush with butter or drizzle with olive oil. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Serve with a curry, as a flatbread for sandwiches, or as a gyro bread.