My mother-in-law is a star in the kitchen, especially when it comes to Pakistani cuisine. You ask for it and she will make it, happily. Some people do not bother with serving others food. They are stingy or not gracious hosts. These comments could never be associated with my mother-in-law. She loves feeding her friends and family. I always tell her, “Aunty, you should open up a restaurant.” If it was not so tiring and such a big commitment, I think it would be ideal for her.
She goes all out with her preparations. I love seeing this quality in people, the trait of being a great host. Inviting someone to your house should not be seen as a hassle, but an occasion to share food and good times with others. She makes very elaborate and time-consuming dishes when she is having a gathering. She would rather not invite people over than make something simple that you would eat in your house on a daily basis. I am like her in some ways. I do take pride in inviting people over to my place. In this day and age, I understand that people are busy and entertaining is the last thing on their minds. But, there is something so appealing and welcoming about a good host.
I mention all of this, because my mother-in-law also makes her own fresh naans. Most of the time, she lives in Dubai, but she also visits Toronto quite frequently. Both of these places have no shortage of establishments that serve up fresh naans. Yet, she takes great pride in her kitchen and would rather serve something fresh and home-made. Making naan for 2-3 people, like I have made here is not that grueling. However, she will make naans for 15-20 people with a smile on her face the whole time.
I hope you try this recipe, it is really worth it to put in the effort. The recipe is not hard at all, just a little time-consuming. The result is so worth it. They are usually made in a tandoor or clay oven. Most of us are not equipped with one in our kitchen, so the broiler is the next best option. Hot, fresh, naans enhance any Pakistani or Indian dish as they serve the place of an extra utensil. They are chewy and oh so delicious. I am very lucky to have such a great mother-in-law who is able to teach me such recipes that I would have not tried making before.
Makes 8 naans
4 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour (organic)
1 1/2 tablespoons dry-active yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup of yogurt
sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
kalonji seeds, for garnish (optional)
extra water and flour, if necessary
Proof the yeast with the warm water and sugar, for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to form bubbles. Sift together the flour with the salt and baking powder. Add in the yeast mixture, milk, and 1/2 cup of oil. Knead the dough together until it forms a ball. If the dough is too sticky add extra flour to the dough and likewise if it is too dry, add water. Allow to rise in a bowl covered with a damp kitchen towel for 4 hours. Keep the bowl in a warm place, like over the stove.
Meanwhile mix the yogurt with the remaining oil in a bowl and set aside.
After four hours knead the dough slightly. Separate the dough into 8 equal balls. Allow the balls to rise for 30 minutes. Then, using a rolling-pin roll the balls into 8-9 inch rounds. Use your fingertips to make indentations in the dough.
Preheat your broiler. Heat a griddle or frying pan on the stove on medium heat. Brush the yogurt/oil mixture on top of the naans and cover with sesame seeds. You can add a few kalonji seeds, if you like. Next cook the bottom of the naans on the griddle or frying pan for about 4 minutes. Then transfer them as the bottoms are browned onto a baking tray underneath the broiler. This will brown the top of the naans. Keep each naan in the oven for about 4 minutes, or until the top is slightly golden. If you wish you can dab a little butter on top of the hot naans. Serve them right away, they taste best right from the oven.