I veganized a traditional recipe a few years back, but was unimpressed with results achievable through oven cooking. Even at the max temperature (260oc), using a pizza stone and then grilling afterwards the results were just no where as good as you can get using a traditional tandoor (480oc). Too stodgy and dried out. Ready made naan from supermarkets (sometimes vegan) is often chewy as well.
I revisited it earlier this week, using a blow torch after cooking to try and up the temperature. Whilst this gave better results it wasn't good enough to blog about (a shame, as I took some pretty blow torch pictures!). Last night I tried cooking directly over a gas flame, which gave by far and away the best home-made naan I've ever had.
I'd like to take credit for this discovery, but I owe it instead to a several hour long crawl of the internet. I'm pleased too, as my next idea involved using the BBQ and it's cold outside! You need a wire mesh to hold the naan whilst it's being cooked, but other than that you don't need any special tools.
I'm not sure how 'traditional' peshwari naan is outside the UK. Here it's a curry house staple, consisting of naan stuffed with coconut and sultanas. Apple and almond are common additions too. I worked out the ratios for each of the stuffing ingredients from commercial non-vegan products and used apple sauce for convenience (I know how obsessed Americans are with the stuff). You can change the stuffing ingredients/ratios as you please. If you make without stuffing then adding garlic and fresh coriander to the dough will give a bit more flavour.
Black Onion Seeds (the little black specks you see in naan) improve the flavour of the dough, but can be left out if you can't find them. In the UK they're sold in independent Indian shops (often convenience stores in areas with a high Asian population will have a spice section), though I believe our last bag was acquired from Waitrose.
Dough Ingredients (makes 3 naan):
- 280g White Bread Flour
- 1 tsp Dried Yeast
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Onion Seeds
- 60ml Plain Soya Yoghurt
- 10ml Agave Nectar
- 1 tbsp Melted Margerine
- 100ml Lukewarm Water
- 4 tbsp Apple Sauce
- 30g Shredded Coconut
- 30g Ground Almonds
- 50g Sultanas
Chop the sultanas (leaving whole will make rolling out more difficult, as they will puncture it when pressure applied) and mix in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
The finished dough should be smooth and slightly sticky. Tip onto a floured surface, knead slightly and divide into 3 balls. Leave to rise for 15-30 minutes.
After rising knead each slightly, roll out thinly, spread the stuffing mixture over then fold over the sides. Turn upside down and roll out into your desired shape, being careful not to puncture the sides.
Rolling a teardrop is easiest if you start with a round disc, hold the side closest to you with one hand and push away with a rolling pin in the other. Try to get the naan as thin as possible (without puncturing), as this will make cooking easier/quicker.
Cook each naan in turn, placing on a wire mesh directly over your largest gas burner, turned to a low setting.
Keep the mesh close to the flame and ensure you regularly move it round so that it cooks evenly. After several minutes when the underside is starting to blacken and the top bubbling; flip it over with a metal spatula.
The photo below shows what happens when're you're busy taking photographs and not moving it around - the cooking becomes uneven!
When both sides are cooked brush with melted margarine and serve whilst still warm. If you're worried it may not be cooked slice one in half before brushing, so it can be transferred back to a lower heat if required. The first I made had the burner turned up too high, so needed a bit of extra time.
Next task - vegan keema naan.