Continuing on with our India Night recipes we’re going to walk you through making fresh Naan, then on to Raita. Naan takes some skill and some time, so be patient.* Fortunately, Jamie, the baker of tonight’s two chefs, has what it takes. (He used to teach midshipmen how to sail. No need to elaborate on his patience and skill.) You will need a very hot galley oven and a broiler unit in your oven to properly make Naan.
* Purchasing Naan at a specialty grocer or your favorite Indian restaurant is a perfectly sound idea. Maybe even smart.
Naan (Punjabi Flat Bread)
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter, melted
Dissolve the yeast into 1/2 cup of the milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then add the dissolved yeast, sugar, yogurt and melted ghee or butter. Mix. Add the remaining milk and mix to form a stiff, sticky dough. (you can add more milk if needed.)
Now find a work surface that you can flour. This may be difficult working in a sailboat galley with two chefs preparing many dishes simultaneously. Like we Galley Pirates have warned before… however tempting….we advise against using the chart table.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface for 10 minutes, until it is stiff and elastic, Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a dish towel, let rise in a warm place until about doubled in size, about 3-4 hours. Yup, that’s a long time but if the dough doesn’t properly rise you will have heavy Naan. After it has properly risen, punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.
Pre-heat your galley oven to HOT. Try to get it up to 400 degrees.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. On the same lightly flour work surface roll out each of the pieces so they are about 6 inches wide and 1/4″ thick.
Preheat a baking sheet in the oven for two minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and light your broiler. Place the Naan on the hot baking sheet and return to the oven. You may only be able to bake two at a time depending on the size of your (tiny) oven. (we ended up with just three Naan this evening, and admittedly, a bit too thick.)
The tricky thing about galley broilers is that you have to leave the door open a crack. There is a grove in the door handle that allows you to do this. If the oven remains closed is will suffocate the the broiler flame. Keep a constant eye on your oven to make sure the Naan does not burn. You may have to move them around if your broiler plate is small, as is the case with my Force 10.
Bake for 2-3 minutes, flip over with a spatula and bake on the other side for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and golden.
Now, onto the Raita…
Raita is a yogurt-based condiment which is the cooling “ying” to spicy Biryani’s “yang.” (sorry for the mixed culture metaphor.) There are as many different Raita recipes as there are Indian chefs. Here’s one of Alyson’s favorites.
Raita (Cucumber Yogurt Condiment)
1/2 cucumber, lightly peeled and chopped
1 medium-sized tomato, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mint leaves, minced
2 pinches of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare all vegetables and place into a medium-sized bowl. Stir in yogurt and mint until evenly combined. Season with a little sugar, salt and pepper.
Place in a serving dish and garnish with mint leaves.
We hope you’ve enjoyed India Night as much as we enjoyed creating it. Let us know your thoughts! And many thanks to our Guest Chefs! Hope they come back again!