Flatbread dough filled with a soft herb/cheese/onion mixture – this is an easy recipe if a little messy ( as all the best ones are). When I make this dish for company I finish the breads ahead of time and warm them, wrapped in foil, in the oven. This is a vegetarian version, but ground lamb is a popular addition. Actually you can use any combination of ingredients for the filling as long as the result is fairly soft and smooth – hard bits will force their way through the soft dough and spoil the surface.
3 3/4 C unbleached white flour (I make some of this up with chapati (chick pea) flour and whole wheat to add flavor, but all white flour makes a dependable texture), 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, about 1 1/4 C plain yogurt, unsalted butter for brushing the finished breads.
Put all the ingredients except the butter in the bowl of your food processor and process until the dough follows the blade around in a ball. You may need to add more flour, or yogurt. This dough isn’t fragile and some extra whapping around won’t hurt it. Dump the dough out on to a floured board. It will be soft and sticky, but try to gather it up into a ball (you may have to push it around some with a little extra flour), and put it in an oiled bowl in a warm place to rise for about an hour. This is not a yeast dough – the time will temper the gluten in the flour but it won’t appear to rise.
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a medium bowl mix: 1 8 oz farmer cheese (or paneer, ricotta, small curd cottage cheese), 2 Tbs fresh parsley, cilantro to taste, 1/4 C sauteed onion and 1 C cooked potato. I generally make naan in conjuction with a curry, so I cook the potato and onion for that as well. Leftovers work fine, too. Mash everything together thoroughly – you should have a dry, sticky mix that won’t ooze out of the bread, or stick up through the dough.
Heat an 8 – 10″ frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium low heat – add a little vegetable oil if it’s not seasoned. Keep in mind that the pan will need to go under the broiler in a minute, so no non-stick surfaces or wooden handles allowed. Dump the dough out on to a floured board and divide into five or six balls. Some people make lots of small breads, but it takes a lot longer that way. I like to make a size that just fits in my frying pan.
Roll a ball out to about 6″ in diameter, and drop a healthy amount of filling on the center – about 1/4 cup. Keep the rest of the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. Gather the edges up in pleats to the center and twist slightly to make a spiraled top to your dough ball of filling. Which is a great name for a band. Flatten the ball, flip it over and roll it out to the size of your pan. Now you see why you want a soft filling.
Turn on your broiler to low. Pick up the bread and place it in the hot pan, shaking slightly so it doesn’t stick. Cook until the underside is nicely browned. Now put the pan and all under the broiler and turn off the burner. Make another naan. In a minute (or few), the top will puff up and develop brown spots. Pull the pan out and slide the bread onto a cutting board. Race back to the stove and turn the burner on, slide the next piece into the pan. Now go back to the first naan and rub the top with a stick of unsalted butter. Cut into wedges and serve to the first lucky participant with a bowl of spinach curry and sides of yogurt and mango chutney.
Next week I’m going to try this recipe with a banana chocolate filling and powdered sugar on top. I promise to take pictures.