Thursday, June 16, 2011

Naan and Crispy Okra Raita

Last night we had a simple supper. I had planned on making curry, rice, two chutneys and a raita to go with homemade naan. However while watching the Stanley Cup we had some popcorn and that filled us up, so I modified the menu. I made the naan because I had already started the dough earlier in the day and the beautiful Okra I purchased at the Farmer’s Market was calling me, so I made a Crispy Okra Raita.  That is all we had for supper along with some carrot pickles I made a month or so ago.

Indian Breads have always been a passion of mine, along with the many chutneys and riatas that go so well with them. Naan is my “go to” simple bread. I like to change it up with various flavors, carmelized onions, roasted garlic, poppy seeds etc. Last night I added roasted garlic and smothered them in melted ghee and then sprinkled on some of my smoked salt.

Here is the Naan recipe and the Crispy Okra Raita recipe. Tonight I will be making pumpkin curry and rice along with more naan and the raita and a coriander and mint chutney.

Naan (home style)
©Devany Vickery-Davidson 1999

This is a thick home-style Naan, my favorite kind. There are many other varieties of Naan, much like pizza with different shapes and thicknesses. I would call this recipe “basic Naan”. It is easily baked in a very hot oven, of course, a Tandoor is ideal for making these, but since few Americans have a Tandoor, or even a wood burning oven like I do, I would suggest a few hints for baking. I have even made these on a gas grill before and they came out fantastically. In my Viking Convection Oven, there is a setting beyond basic convection, it is convection bake. In this mode the convection oven is working and the broiling element also kicks in. It is an effective way to bake breads and pizzas, but to prevent too much browning you need to put only one tray in at a time and it should be on the middle rack. So, I am assuming you have a conventional oven and want to make naan. It can be done.

You will need unglazed quarry tiles if you do not have a wood burning oven. Or there is a bread insert you can buy that is made of ceramic material to hold in heat for baking. You can buy this online at a variety of cooking sites.

If you do not want to invest in tiles or an insert, you can try it on a VARY heavy baking pan, or better yet, use your grill or a heavy duty griddle.

I use an old sourdough starter for all of the breads I bake. I will give this recipe for making Naan with yeast instead. I bought my original sourdough starter at Bobolink Dairy in New Jersey.

2 teaspoons dry yeast (organic if you can find it)
½ cup of warm water (no hotter than 115˚)
1 cup of organic yogurt (I make my own, but if you want to buy it, look for a Greek style or Middle Eastern brand).
1 cup of boiling water
5 cups of whole wheat or unbleached organic flour (depending on how rustic you want the loaves to be)
2 tablespoons of ghee or olive oil
1 tablespoon of sea salt
6-8 tablespoons of sesame or poppy seeds or crushed garlic, depending on the flavor you want.

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water and stir to mix.

Put the yogurt in a bowl and gradually stir in the boiling water & let cool for about 15 minutes, if using a thermometer it should be about 110 ˚. Thius far, your mixture is called a sponge.

At this point, mix the yougurt mixture and the yeast mixture together. Stir (or I use a Kitchen Aid Mixer) approximately 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Continue adding more flour & kneading as needed to make a smooth and elastic, but slightly wet “sponge”.

Cover and let stand for one hour or more.
Sprinkle the oil and salt on to the sponge. Mix in the remaining flour, about ½ of a cup at a time to make a smooth dough. Continue kneading till the dough is smooth and elastic (either by hand or Kitchen Aid). If the dough is too sticky, add more flour slowly.

Oil a large bowl. Put the dough in it and turn to coat the dough with oil. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and divide it into 4-6 pieces, depending on how large you want the naan.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 6 inch or so discs. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven and tiles to 450˚ if you are using them.  If you are using a baking pan, pre-heat it too. If you are using a wood burning oven, bring it to 500˚. This can also be cooked directly on a grill, but it will not be as moist inside and does not keep well when done in that manner.

I use a Pizza Peel, but if you do not have one, a large sturdy spatula will do. Lightly flour it and roll out the dough on to it, making about 6 X 8 rectangles or teardrop shapes. Use a razor blade to cut a few slashes in the top of each loaf.

Slide the dough on to the grill or baking sheets and bake each for about 5 minutes. When you take them out of the oven you can add sesame, poppy or other seeds or crushed garlic with butter.

Crispy Okra Raita inspired by Ruta Kahate in her book 5 spices, 50 dishes

Ruta Says: “Oddly enough, children in India love okra.” But it’s hardly surprising; whether sautéed, fried or stuffed, the vegetable is prepared in a way that makes its texture pleasing rather than gooey. In this recipe, for instance, the okra becomes crunchy and addictive on its own; stirred into spiced yogurt, it is even better. This can be eaten on its own, or served with thalipeeth or naan.

Ingredients:

8 ounces fresh or frozen, cut okra
1 small red onion, chopped
6 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 cup plain whole or low fat yogurt
¾ to 1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar or jaggery grated
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

Wash the okra and towel dry each one thoroughly. Slice into ¼ inch-thick rounds. If using frozen okra, do not thaw.

Heat 5 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is very hot, add the okra & onion, toss and let sizzle. Toss occasionally. The okra will slowly crisp and turn brown. Note: frozen okra may not crisp as well, this is OK, just be sure to brown it well. Once all of the okra is well browned, remove to a paper towel lined platter and set aside till ready to serve.

Make the tad Crispy Okra Raita

My friend Ruta Says: “Odly enough, children in India love okra.” But it’s hardly surprising; whether sautéed, fried or  stuffed, the vegetable is prepared in a way that makes it’s texture pleasing rather than gooey. In this recipe, for instance, the okra becomes crunchy and addictive on it’s own; stirred into spiced yogurt, it is even better. This can be eaten on it’s own, or served with thalipeeth.”

Ingredients:

8 ounces fresh or frozen, cut okra
6 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 cup plain whole or low fat yogurt
¾ to 1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar or jaggery grated
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons mustard seeds (I use a mixture of brown and yellow)

Method:

Wash the okra and towel dry each one thoroughly. Slice into ¼ inch-thick rounds. If using frozen okra, do not thaw.

Heat 5 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is very hot, add the okra, toss and let sizzle. Toss occasionally. The okra will slowly crisp and turn brown. Note: frozen okra may not crisp as well, this is OK, just be sure to brown it well. Once all of the okra is well browned, remove to a paper towel lined platter and set aside till ready to serve.

Make the tadka: Whisk the yogurt with the salt (to taste) and sugar place the cayenne and tumeric in a small pile on the raita, but do not stir in. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a butter warmer or small skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering th pan with a lid or spatter screen. After the mustard seeds stop sputtering, pour the hot oil directly on top of the cayenne and turmeric powder. This cooks the powdered spices without burning them. Do not stir the dressing in yet.

For presentation prior to serving, place the crisp okra on top of the dressing. Stir the okra and dressing into the yogurt while serving.

Serves 2-4
ka: Whisk the yogurt with the salt (to taste) and sugar place the cayenne and turmeric in a small pile on the raita, but do not stir in. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a butter warmer or small skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering the pan with a lid or spatter screen. After the mustard seeds stop sputtering, pour the hot oil directly on top of the cayenne and turmeric powder. This cooks the powdered spices without burning them. Do not stir the dressing in yet.

For presentation prior to serving, place the crisp okra on top of the dressing. Stir the okra and dressing into the yogurt while serving.

Serves 2-4

2 comments:

Lyndsey said...

I love naan, and yours looks wonderful. Everything sounds great.

Tinky said...

I probably WON'T make the naan unless I get super motivated--although I do love naan--but the raita I have a feeling I will. I just saw okra at the farmer's market last week; can't wait. Thanks as always, Devany.....