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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recipe! Whole Wheat Naan and Perfect Brown Rice (everytime!)

Although many countries around the world make and eat "naan" every day, in the U.S. you'll tend to find it in Indian restaurants as a lovely accompaniment to the main dish. The word "naan" refers to a leavened flatbread baked in the tandoor (a type of oven) but is spread broadly across a great variety of breads in many countries. Like most breads, it is terribly versatile and can be topped, stuffed, or incorporated with all sorts of additions.

In my opinion, no Indian dish is complete without some naan on the side, and thus I searched until I found a lauded recipe which I then, of course, adapted. But before we get to that, allow me to avail you with another of my recent discoveries!

In the realm of rice, not all are created equal! White rice has been milled and does not qualify as a whole grain. Thus, brown rice is your best friend when you need a warm, wholesome compliment to any number of meals. But if you've grown up cooking white rice of any variety, cooking the brown sort can be confusing. There's no doubt that the extra hull requires extra cooking time, but often rice cooked according to package directions comes out mushy and gummy.

Fortunately, this week I came across something absolutely brilliant...a recipe for perfect brown rice, every single time. I tried it and it works...the taste testers were amazed! Lifted shamelessly from Saveur, this recipe is easy and delicious. We made short grain brown rice...but you can make any variety you want! And best of all? It's easy as pie.

So, first things first...Perfect Brown Rice:

1 cup brown rice
6 cups water
salt to taste

1. Bring water to a boil and rinse rice in a strainer for thirty seconds. When water boils, add rice, stir once, and allow to boil (uncovered) for 30 minutes.

2. Pour rice into strainer and allow to drain for just ten seconds, then pour back into the pot and put the lid on tight! Let sit for ten minutes (off of the heat), fluff with a fork, add salt, and serve.

You'll get soft rice that isn't mushy and tastes divine!

And now, Whole Wheat Naan:

1 .25 oz package of dry active yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup honey
3 T milk
1 egg, beaten
2 t salt
4 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup melted butter
(optional) 4 cloves minced garlic.

1. Pour yeast into a large bowl with 1 cup warm water. Add 1 t of sugar or honey to proof the yeast and allow to sit for ten minutes or until frothy.

2. Stir in honey, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough.  Do not use more flour than you need! (If the dough is too stiff it will not cook correctly.) Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside (someplace warm) to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

3. Punch down dough, pinch off pieces the size of a golfball or so, roll into balls and set on a tray. cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled in size again, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat a griddle, skillet, or grill to high heat and melt the butter.  (I used an electric griddle, and it was set at 400 degrees) If you wish, you can add the minced garlic to the melted butter and brush the garlic-butter mixture onto the naan instead of straight butter.

4. Take one ball of dough, roll it out on a cutting board with a little flour, and brush on a light coating of butter. Then transfer to the cooking surface butter-side down. Brush butter on the other side and allow to cook until bubble have formed, about a minute or two. Do not overcook! Flip naan and allow to cook for another minute or so, then remove from the grill.

Naan should be served as fresh as possible. You can keep it in foil in a warm oven to retain heat while you get everything else on the table. If you prefer, you can make the dough the day before, refrigerate it, and pull it out when you are ready for it. Feel free to try different flours or substitutions! This goes great with the Korma we made earlier this week!

I intend to experiment with stuffing naan and other variations on the naan theme. I'll be sure to post recipes! Look out for more Indian recipes next week!

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