Naan simply means bread in its Persian origin and is a popular bread in the entire west, central and South Asia. This leavened bread is baked in clay ovens (tandoors) traditionally, which gives it a crispy exterior, a soft and fluffy inside and slightly charred flavour. As with parathas (fried, unleavened flatbread) , naan also has evolved into so much variety over the years.
There is “roghni naan” which is a heavier, more rich and formal version of naan, with milk and clarified butter in the dough and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Then there is “taftan” , a delicacy of a bread with milk, eggs, yogurt, cardamoms and saffron in the ingredients list. There are countless stuffed naan versions, both vegetarian and non vegetarian; keemay Walay naan (minced meat stuffed bread), masala naan (onion, coriander and spices stuffed bread) and the most popular Aloo Walay naan (potato stuffed bread). Now even cheese and Nutella stuffed naan are becoming a rage with the young crowd. Brush them with garlic butter or sprinkle with sesame and nigella seeds, naan remain an essential part of Pakistani cuisine.
Making Aloo Walay Naan at home is not only possible but is quite easy to do too. If the dough is done right, they will turn out perfect whether baked in the oven or cooked on a skillet/tawa. I make the filling quite spicy because combined with the dough, it gets toned down a lot. You can adjust the spice level to your liking.
Usually you don’t need any condiments with stuffed naans but pickles, chutneys and yogurt always add to the fun.
For Naan Dough:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup plain thick yogurt
1 tablespoon oil
2-3 tablespoons melted butter or desi ghee(clarified butter)
For Potato Filling:
1 small onion
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A small bunch fresh coriander leaves
2 green chilli peppers
This Is What You Do:
Add flour in a big mixing bowl or deep dish. Mix salt with flour.
Make a well in the centre, add the yeast mix, yogurt and oil.
Rub a little oil all over your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.
Knead for good 8-10 minutes or till the dough is firm and elastic.
Cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
After an hour dough should be double the size.
Meanwhile prepare the potato filling. Peel and cut potatoes into cubes. Boil till tender.
Drain and mash the potatoes.
Finely chop onion, coriander and green chilli peppers.
Mix salt, red chilli powder, black pepper, cumin, onions, coriander and chilli peppers into the mashed potatoes.
Flour a work top. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into dough balls.
Flatten a dough ball on the work top. Press with your fingers to spread out in a small circle.
Place the potato filling in the middle of the circle. Gather the dough around it to completely encase it inside the dough.
Once again place this little parcel on the work top, gently roll out with a rolling pin or press and shape with your fingers into a six inch circle or oval. Don’t roll or press too thin. Specially keep the edges slightly thicker.
Cook over lightly greased hot skillet till puffy and golden on both sides OR preheat oven at 200 degrees C and bake in hot oven for 8-10 minutes.
As soon as a naan is done, brush with melted butter or ghee and immediately cover with cotton napkin or tea towel to keep it soft.
Repeat with all dough balls. Makes six small sized naans.