Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and Black Friday!
Ever since going across country for school (and now work), I don’t get to spend many Thanksgivings with family. It’s expensive and draining to fly back and forth, especially since Christmas break is just around the corner anyway. This year, I was incredibly fortunate and grateful to spend Thanksgiving with one of my best friend’s family in New Jersey. In addition to being gracious hosts, my friend and her mom are also incredibly talented in the kitchen:
All this for five people (plus pie for dessert not pictured), and all homemade! Needless to say, I was very impressed…and stuffed. Without a doubt, it was the most delicious Thanksgiving meal I have ever eaten.
I am truly so thankful to have been welcomed into my friend’s home for the holiday. But still once the food coma had ceased and I could even think about eating again, I found myself craving the foods I would eat at home with my own family. It’s true that food really means so much more than taste, it’s also memories. As a kid, both my parents worked very hard during the day and sometimes nights, so often there wasn’t time for home-cooked dinners. But we still had our favorite family meals. Mostly, we relied on frozen foods (mmm frozen dumplings!) and takeout. My absolute favorite takeout place was and still is this amazing Indian restaurant with tender chicken tandoori, flavorful lamb curry, and – best of all – soft, airy, pillowy naan. When I think of my ideal carb, I think of naan.
This is all a very long-winded explanation to say that I craved naan this weekend, so I made some.
Traditionally, naan is comprised of flour, yeast, a little salt, and water or milk, and baked in a tandoor oven. It’s not particularly nutritious, not to mention yeast requires long rising times, and most home cooks don’t own a tandoor oven. So many things seemingly pointing to a naan-less and sad Lisa…but fortunately for naan-cravers like me, you CAN have it all – healthy, delicious, easy, fast naan on your table (or in your mouth) in about 20 minutes!
This fantastic instant naan recipe from Playful Cooking uses yogurt and baking soda for fermentation and rising. I usually use nonfat Greek yogurt for a big boost of satiating protein and to keep the recipe low-fat. To make this recipe dairy-free/vegan, you can substitute almond yogurt or coconut yogurt, but check for keywords that they contain “probiotics” or “active and live cultures”. Just a little olive oil in the dough and optionally drizzled on top (since I unfortunately don’t keep ghee on hand) provide some healthy monounsaturated fats. Using half wheat flour and half all-purpose adds some fiber to these flatbreads, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to make these whole wheat; since the dough is leavened by baking soda, using 100% wheat flour makes these too heavy and dense.
The recipe is also easy on the brain – it’s just equal portions x cups all-purpose flour, wheat flour, and yogurt, then x tablespoon oil and x teaspoon baking soda. For example, 1 cup AP flour, 1 cup wheat flour, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon baking soda. Or 1/2 all the way around. Or 1/4. Just one fraction to remember. This makes the recipe easy to divide in half, or fourth – however many naan you want to make that day, in order to resist temptation of stuffing your face with a whole batch. And the best part of this recipe is that each naan literally takes a minute on a frying pan (with an optional minute for cooling time) before it can jump into your belly.
Psst! As a bonus, I’ve also included some modifications to transform plain naan, already delicious, to garlic naan or cheesy naan (or even cheesy garlic naan?!) for ridiculously delicious. And on top of that, I also have suggestions on how to use your freshly-made naan for an easy, customizable, personal-sized flatbread. I decided to make myself a shakshuka (eggs baked in tomato sauce) flatbread for a light, nutritious, well-rounded breakfast after the Thanksgiving gluttony – but your own flatbread-induced joy is limited only by the topping options in your pantry and your own imagination.
recipe from Playful Cooking
makes 8 naan (about the size of your open hand)
egg free, low sugar, low fat
dairy free/vegan options available
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour/white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt or non-dairy yogurt (coconut, almond)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- water, if needed
- optional garnishes – minced garlic, cheese, sesame seeds, herbs, olive oil or ghee
- Mix dry ingredients (both flours and baking soda) in a medium-sized bowl.
- Add wet ingredients (yogurt and oil) to dry ingredients and mix using your fingers or a spatula. If the dough seems too dry, add water one teaspoon at a time. If the dough gets too wet, sprinkle some more flour. Briefly knead until dough comes together into a smooth ball.
- Cover dough with a damp towel and let rest for 15 minutes. In the meantime, heat a pan or griddle to medium-high heat (on my stove, that’s a 4 out of 6).
- After resting, the dough should feel softer and airier. Divide the dough into 8 pieces; cover any pieces you’re not working on to keep them from drying out. Take one piece and roll it out into a roughly circular/oval shape. Don’t be afraid to roll it out pretty thin, but don’t tear the dough.
- for garlic naan: press minced garlic into surface of the dough; for sesame naan: press sesame seeds into surface of the dough; for cheesy naan: spread or sprinkle cheese on surface of the dough, fold over and seal so that the cheese is in between two layers of dough, then roll the dough out again into a roughly circular/oval shape.
- Brush the surface of the rolled dough with water (for garlic or sesame naan, brush the surface without garlic or sesame seeds).
- Place the dough, water-brushed surface facing down, on the hot pan. Immediately cover the pan with a lid – if you don’t have a lid, do what I did which was use a baking pan. Your naan should start puffing up bubbles in just a few seconds! (If you are doing the cheese variation, the bubbles may not be so apparent).
- After 30-40 seconds, flip your naan. The bottom should be browned and even a little charred but not too black. After 30-40 seconds on the other side, remove naan from the pan. Keep fresh naan covered with aluminum foil.
- Repeat the rolling, water-brushing, and cooking process with the rest of the dough pieces.
- If desired, garnish naan with a drizzle of oil or ghee and some fresh or dry herbs such as cilantro or parsley. You can also garnish with more garlic or cheese, because, why not?
- Serve warm. If there are leftovers, store wrapped in foil in the fridge or freezer. You can reheat in a covered pan with a little water added for steam, or covered with a damp paper towel in the microwave.
Nutritional description: If you divide the whole batch into 8, then each piece of naan will be a little smaller than what you usually find in an Indian restaurant, but then again those naan are meant to be shared (nevermind the reality… 😉 ). Thanks to portion control, half-wheat flour, and nonfat yogurt, these flatbreads are definitely lower calorie and more nutritious than the typical dining out.
Nutritional information (calculated without vegan substitutions and optional garnishes): Calories 131, Total Fat 1.9g, Saturated Fat 0.2g, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbs 21.1g, Fiber 1.5g, Sugars 1.1g, Protein 6.4g, Sodium 168mg
makes 1 personal-sized flatbread
dairy free, low sugar, low fat
- 1 naan
- ~2 tablespoons tomato paste, marinara, or pasta sauce – I used four cheese pasta sauce because it was what I had on hand
- 2 dashes cumin
- 1 dash garlic powder
- 1 large egg
- optional garnish – dried parsley, feta cheese (I had none 😦 )
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a greased or parchment/silicone-lined baking pan and place the naan on it.
- Mix together the tomato sauce, cumin, and garlic powder in a small bowl.
- Spread tomato sauce mixture on the naan, creating a sort of nest shape with the sauce (create a valley in the middle with high walls).
- Crack an egg and gently slip it into the nest you’ve made with the tomato sauce. Hopefully, the walls of the nest will help contain all or most of the egg, reducing spillage.
- Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending how runny you want your egg to be.
- If desired, garnish with parsley or herb of choice. Devour immediately, or once it has cooled enough for you to pick it up!
- This recipe can be easily adjusted for other flatbread toppings. If no egg is needed to be baked, then you can even heat everything up in the same pan you made the naan in. If you still want to use the oven, the time can be significantly reduced depending how soft you want the flatbread to be; for a shakshuka flatbread, a crispier crust is necessary in order to ensure that the egg is fully cooked.
Nutritional description: I think eggs are awesome nutrient bombs – just think, the whole point of an egg’s nutritional composition is to shelter and sustain a growing, living creature. Tomato sauce also offers a plethora of nutrients like vitamins and antioxidants, though very little is used for this recipe. Using homemade tomato sauce would probably be even healthier, but if you’re in a rush then bought tomato sauce works fine too. Overall, this is a fun and easy nutritious and well-balanced snack or light breakfast.
Nutritional information (calculated without optional garnishes): Calories 216, Total Fat 7.3g, Saturated Fat 1.7g, Cholesterol 186.2mg, Carbs 24.6g, Fiber 2g, Sugars 2.9g, Protein 12.9g, Sodium 505.7mg