No matter how sweltering it is outside, fresh-from-the-oven hot bread always sounds compelling, doesn't it?
Think melting butter on a biscuit. A warm chunk of crusty baguette dipped in herb-infused EVOO.
Think cinnamon toast.
(I confess, typing those words just now sent me down to the kitchen for a toasted slice of whole wheat bread spread with soft butter and showered with cinnamon-sugar. Truth: I have no self-control when it comes to hot bread.)
There comes a time, however, when heating up the kitchen to bake a loaf of bread – or even some quick rolls – tips you right over the steamy edge.
A quick solution? Grilled bread. As in, get out of the kitchen, heat up your barbecue grill, and make pizza or flatbread.
Our choice today: this thick, soft, garlicky South Asian whole wheat naan – a great example of our oft-chanted mantra, "Whole grains can taste GREAT!" Your outdoor barbecue grill steps in nicely for the tandoor oven in which naan are traditionally baked.
First, let's make something cool – naan is often paired with raita, a dip or spread which comes in a range of varieties, from pineapple to onion to the cucumber version you see here.
Start with 2 small-to-medium cucumbers, or 1 medium-to-large cucumber. If the cukes are waxed, peel them; if they're right from the garden, there's no need to peel.
Slice the cucumber lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. I find a serrated grapefruit spoon works well for this task.
Dice the seeded cuke into 1/2" or so cubes. You'll have about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (about 170g) diced cucumber. Don't be a perfectionist here; more or less is fine.
Toss the diced cucumber with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Put it in a strainer set over a bowl; weigh it down; and let it drain for 2 hours or so at room temperature.
Scoop the drained cucumber into a bowl; no need to rinse the salt away. Add the following:
2 cups whole-milk yogurt, drained in a yogurt cheese maker or cheesecloth for several hours; OR 1 cup (8 ounces) thick Greek-style yogurt
1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint or cilantro, plus extra for garnish
2 to 3 teaspoons minced hot chilies or chili paste, or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, all optional
Stir to combine.
Refrigerate the raita until you're ready to use it. I like to keep mine in a yogurt strainer, as it prevents it from becoming watery as it sits.
Now, on to the naan.
Place the following in a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer:
2 cups (227g) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 cups (177g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons (28g) butter or ghee (clarified butter), melted
1/2 cup (113g) milk or whey (from the drained yogurt, below)
3/4 cup (170g) plain whole-milk yogurt*
1 large egg
*If you use Greek-style yogurt, increase the milk or whey in the dough by 2 to 3 tablespoons, to account for Greek-style yogurt's thicker texture.
Mix everything until cohesive; the dough will be rough and shaggy. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it's smooth and shiny. Or knead for about 7 minutes in a stand mixer.
Want to make the dough in your bread machine? Go for it; use the dough cycle to knead and raise the dough, then pick up the shaping/cooking directions below.
Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover, and set it aside to rise for about 1 1/2 hours...
..., or until it's doubled in bulk.
At this point, the dough may be refrigerated, covered, for up to 24 hours, for extra flavor and ease of rolling.
Divide the dough into six pieces. Hand-stretch or roll each piece into a thin oval shape, about 4" x 7". Pull on the front edge of the oval to elongate and create the traditional tear shape.
Let the pieces rest, uncovered, while you heat a griddle on high heat. They'll become somewhat puffy.
Heat a griddle; a cast-iron pan, or any type of heavy pan over medium heat on your outdoor barbecue grill.
Grease the pan with olive oil, if desired. If the pan is sufficiently non-stick, there's no need to grease it.
Transfer the naan to the griddle, as many as will fit at a time. Grill for approximately 2 to 3 minutes on one side, until the bread puffs and begins to look set around the edges. If your barbecue has a lid, cook naan with the lid in place; this will help it cook all the way through without becoming overly browned.
If the naan appears to be browning too quickly (as the loaves in the photo above did), lower the heat.
Flip over and continue to cook, until the bottom side is brown.
Remove naan from the griddle, and brush with olive oil or garlic oil.
Serve warm, with raita.
It's good to cook one naan first, to test the temperature of your griddle or pan. I was over-confident, and cooked the first two together; witness how dark they got.
Lesson learned: do a test cook of ONE naan first.
Cool any leftovers; store, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.
Looking for a way to use leftover naan?
Split in half around the circumference, naan makes a nice crust for thin-crust whole-grain pizza. Simply add toppings, and bake until hot. Leave naan whole to make a thicker pizza crust.
Read, make, and review (please) our recipe for Whole Wheat Naan with Raita.