Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread – How to Make Naan Pictorial Guide Included

Serves 4

Most of us would not consider a visit to an Indian restaurant complete without mopping up our curries with warm, soft, fragrant, utterly delicious naan.  Naan has been a restaurant dish (as opposed to home-cooked) almost since its introduction into India from Persia.  In recent years, many home cooks have started to make naan at home, mainly to stave off the cost associated with naan breads at restaurants.  It’s much more economical – and most importantly, just as delicious – to make naan at home!  All you require are a few basic ingredients that can be found in most well-stocked kitchens.  Naan can be eaten plain, brushed with melted butter or garnished with a variety of toppings.  Traditionally these toppings include grated garlic, chopped coriander, sesame seeds and onion seeds.  I’m going to be using melted butter, grated garlic and chopped coriander, but you can use whatever toppings you usually enjoy or leave as is.

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The yeast is a very important component when it comes to making naan at home.  While you can make flat breads without yeast, you won’t be able to achieve that soft and melt-in-your-mouth restaurant taste without it.  The milk and yogurt are also very important in making your naan stand out by making it soft and delicate.  Without these three things you won’t be able to achieve the same results.  The other trick to making restaurant style naan is to let your dough rest once you’ve divided it.  This gives the dough a chance to expand a little more and incorporate more air and ensures that your naan won’t rise as you roll it out.  You can use melted butter or ghee in place of the oil, but plain cooking oil will yield a good quality naan so go ahead and use that without worry.  I don’t like to add coriander while the naan is cooking so I add it prior to serving to keep it fresh.  You can add it in with the grated garlic if you prefer.  This recipe makes really soft and tasty restaurant style naan that goes great with most saucy curries.  Let’s get started.

Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make Naan

Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • ½ – 1 cup warm milk
  • Melted butter, for brushing
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, grated (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add warm water, active dry yeast and sugar and stir until combined. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to froth.
  2. In the meantime, sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or into a large bowl. Stir until well combined.
  3. Add the yogurt, oil, yeast mixture and half of the warm milk and combine on low speed until everything comes together. If kneading by hand, knead for 5 minutes until a soft, sticky dough forms. If using stand mixture, knead on medium-low for 2 minutes.  Add more milk as required as you knead to achieve soft, wet, pliable dough.
  4. Drizzle a little bit of oil on top of the dough ball and spread around until dough is evenly covered. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or aluminum foil and a towel on top and let sit in a warm place for 2 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, knead dough on a floured surface for a few seconds until all the air is dispersed and then divide into 4 equal balls. Cover them with a clean towel and let them rest for 5 – 10 minutes.
  6. Heat a skillet or tawa over medium heat and let it warm up for about 2 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oblong shape that’s wider at the bottom than at the top.  If using garlic, smear a quarter of it onto one side and roll into dough.  Roll out until dough is about 1/8th of an inch thick.   The dough will shrink onto itself so do not roll out too thick.
  7. Wet your hand with water and rub water onto the side that does not have any toppings such as the grated garlic and place this side down on the skillet or tawa. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes (or until large bubbles start to form) and then flip over and cook for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until slightly scorched in places (if you’re unsure flip a corner to see).  Remove to a covered plate and brush with melted butter on one side (the side with the toppings such as the grated garlic) and sprinkle with chopped coriander on top if using.  Continue this process until all the naans are rolled out and cooked.

Pictorial Guide

Cover the bowl with cling wrap or aluminum foil and a towel on top and let sit in a warm place for 2 hours.  Dough should be soft, sticky and pliable.

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Knead dough on a floured surface for a few seconds until all the air is dispersed and then divide into 4 equal balls. Cover them with a clean towel and let them rest for 5 – 10 minutes.

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Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oblong shape that’s wider at the bottom than at the top.  If using garlic, smear a quarter of it onto one side and roll into dough.  Roll out until dough is about 1/8th of an inch thick.   The dough will shrink onto itself so do not roll out too thick.

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Wet your hand with water and rub water onto the side that does not have any toppings such as the grated garlic and place this side down on the skillet or tawa. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes (or until large bubbles start to form) and then flip over and cook for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until slightly scorched in places (if you’re unsure flip a corner to see).

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Serve hot with Paneer Tikka Masala or Butter Chicken or any other thick saucy curry.  If you don’t have a large skillet or tawa, divide the dough into 6 or 8 balls and make smaller naan.  I like to make larger naan because it saves on cooking time and I’m just kind of lazy like that.  They’ll both taste delicious so either is fine.  This is a basic naan recipe that can be customized to your taste.  I like this basic version the best as I can add different toppings to create variety through a wide range of different flavours without a lot of additional work.  One of the benefits of making naan at home is that it allows you to control the fat content, which can cut calories and that’s something most of us can avoid if we can.  You can do this by using a healthier oil or oil substitute and brushing on margarine instead of butter or leaving it out altogether.  You can also use a lower fat milk or skim milk or low fat yogurt to cut more calories.  You can also add more nutrition by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for half of the all-purpose flour.  This is such a delicious dish that you may not go back to buying naan again.

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

Serves 4

Chicken tenders are a comfort food for many, but due to the calories added by deep-frying we usually reserve them for ordering occasionally as an appetizer at restaurants.  This recipe makes it not only healthier by cutting out the oil and deep frying, but also allows you to do it in a quick and easy manner.  These crispy oven-baked chicken tenders are absolutely delicious and they really are almost as crispy as if you’ve deep-fried them.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy them, especially served with the suggested simple, but oh-so yummy, dip recipe!   Let’s get started.

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Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders – Recipe

Ingredients

For Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

  • 1lb chicken tenders, cut lengthwise in half, washed and patted dry
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs (to make your own, toast three thick slices of bread and process in a coffee grinder or food processor into coarse crumbs)
  • ½ cup cheese, shredded (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp. ground dry red chilies, divided (optional)

For Dip

  • 2 Tbsp. mayo
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 2 tsp. sriracha sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. mango juice or mango jam (substitute orange jam or other similar tasting thick juice or jam)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking tray with aluminum foil. Place on top oven rack to preheat.
  2. In a bowl, add chicken tenders, salt and pepper to taste and 1 tsp. of the ground dry red chilies (if using). Toss well to coat and set aside.
  3. Set up your dredging stations: 1. Set one large plate with flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), 2. Set a bowl next to it with two eggs, beaten, 3. Set a large plate with breadcrumbs, cheese (if using), salt and pepper to taste and the rest of the ground dry red chilies (if using) and combine well.
  4. Bring out the preheated baking tray, grease it with butter and set it carefully next to the 3rd dredging station. Place marinated chicken tenders before the first dredging station.
  5. Working quickly, dredge each chicken tender in the flour and shake off excess. Next dip it into the egg and let excess drip back down into the egg bowl and then roll in the breadcrumb mixture until well coated.  Place carefully on the baking tray.  Repeat for each of the other chicken tenders until there are none left.  If you keep a bowl of water nearby, this will help remove excess breadcrumbs from your fingers.
  6. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes and then carefully turn each chicken tender over and bake for another 5 minutes. Turn off oven and remove chicken tenders to serving plate.
  7. While the chicken tenders are baking, mix all ingredients in the ‘dip’ section in a small ramekin or cup until combined well.

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Serve chicken tenders right away with the dip on the side.

Quick Cook Appam and Kerala Vegetable Ishtu – Rice Flour Crepes with Vegetable Stew

Serves 4

I like all kinds of appams, but my favourite has to be the kind that requires no overnight soaking or fermenting and this appam recipe delivers exactly what I like.  It cooks up in as little as 2 hours from start to finish.  That’s it!  It takes a minute to prep, 1 ½ to 2 hours to ferment and a couple of minutes to cook up.  It’s that easy and that fast.  The Kerala Vegetable Ishtu is savoury and light and packs a nutritious punch of mixed vegetables, coconut milk and lime juice.  It’s the perfect complement to these quick cook appams.  Pictorial guide below so let’s get started.

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Quick Cook Appam and Kerala Vegetable Ishtu (Stew) – Recipe

Ingredients:

For Appams:

  • 2 cups raw rice flour, red or white
  • ¾ cup cooked rice, red or white
  • 1 ½ cups full cream coconut milk (I used can coconut milk)
  • ½ cup warm water and ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt

For Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:

  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1” piece ginger, minced
  • 4 green chilies, sliced thin
  • 1 sprig curry leaves, stem removed and sliced thin
  • ¼ tsp. mustard seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (I used carrots, peas, corn off the cob and beans)
  • 2 potatoes skin removed, cut into 8ths (or just slightly larger than the size of the mixed vegetables) and boiled until tender (5 – 10 minutes)
  • 1 handful baby spinach, washed
  • 2 cups coconut milk (I used canned coconut milk)
  • ½ cup water
  • Dash of cardamom powder
  • ½ lime, juiced, and more to serve

Instructions:

For Appams:

  1. To make appam batter:  in a small bowl combine ¼ cup warm water, 1 Tbsp. sugar and the yeast, cover and set aside.
  2. In a blender, pulse all the other ingredients under Appam (except the salt) a couple of times until just incorporated, but not completely pureed.
  3. Pour into a large pot, add the yeast mixture and mix well.
  4. Cover and carefully place in your oven (turned off) with the light on for 1 ½ – 2 hours depending on the climate you live in.  If you live in the tropics with high humidity it will take less time to ferment than in a colder climate
  5. To cook appams:  the appam batter should now be frothy and nearly doubled in volume.  Stir it until it is once again smooth, add salt and mix well.  Taste test and adjust salt and sugar as necessary.  The batter should be pourable, resemble thick crepe batter and should coat the back of a ¼ cup ladle.  If batter is too thick add a little bit of water until right consistency is achieved and if batter is too thin add a little bit of rice flour until it starts to thicken.
  6. Heat a small wok, sauce pan or an appam chatti over medium heat, brush margarine or butter until surface is coated well (if it is not non-stick), lift pan with one hand, pour a ladle full (about ¼ cup) of batter with the other and swirl pan around in a circular motion until sides of the pan are coated in a thin layer of the batter and the remainder of the batter settles in the centre.
  7. Place back on the stove, cover with a lid and cook for 1 ½ minutes.  Uncover and remove to plate.  Appams should slide out quite easily.

For Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:

  1. To make the Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:  while the appam batter is fermenting, prep your Ishtu ingredients.  Heat oil in a large, heavy bottom non-stick pan over medium-high and add the mustard seeds.
  2. Once they start to crackle, add in the onions, ginger, green chilies and curry leaves, season with salt and pepper and sauté until onions start to soften.
  3. Add the mixed vegetables and continue to sauté for 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Pour in 1 cup of coconut milk and the water and bring to a boil.
  5. Turn heat to medium, add the potatoes and baby spinach, stir and cook until the ishtu starts to simmer, 1 minute.
  6. Add in the remaining 1 cup of coconut milk, cardamom powder and cook or another minute.  Add lime juice and stir to combine.  Taste test and season with more salt and pepper if required.  The ishtu should be white, savoury, slightly tangy, a little spicy and fragrant.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

Instructions and Picture Guide:

For Appam Batter:

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1. To make Appams:  in a small bowl combine ¼ cup warm water, 1 Tbsp. sugar and the yeast, cover and set aside.

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2. In a blender, pulse all the other ingredients under Appam (except the salt) a couple of times until just incorporated, but not completely pureed.

3. Pour into a large pot, add the yeast mixture and mix well.

4. Cover and carefully place in your oven (turned off) with the light on for 1 ½ – 2 hours depending on the climate you live in.  If you live in the tropics with high humidity it will take less time to ferment than in a colder climate.

For Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:

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1. To make the Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:  while the appam batter is fermenting, prep your Ishtu ingredients.  Heat oil in a large, heavy bottom non-stick pan over medium-high and add the mustard seeds.

2. Once they start to crackle, add in the onions, ginger, green chilies and curry leaves, season with salt and pepper and sauté until onions start to soften.

3. Add the mixed vegetables and continue to sauté for 2 – 3 minutes.

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4. Pour in 1 cup of coconut milk and the water and bring to a boil.

5. Turn heat to medium, add the potatoes and baby spinach, stir and cook until the ishtu starts to simmer, 1 minute.

6. Add in the remaining 1 cup of coconut milk, cardamom powder and cook or another minute.  Add lime juice and stir to combine.  Taste test and season with more salt and pepper if required.  The ishtu should be white, savoury, slightly tangy, a little spicy and fragrant.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

For Cooking Appams:

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1. To cook Appams:  the appam batter should now be frothy and nearly doubled in volume.  Stir it until it is once again smooth, add salt and mix well.  Taste test and adjust salt and sugar as necessary.  The batter should be pourable, resemble thick crepe batter and should coat the back of a ¼ cup ladle.  If batter is too thick add a little bit of water until right consistency is achieved and if batter is too thin add a little bit of rice flour until it starts to thicken.

2. Heat a small wok, sauce pan or an appam chatti over medium heat, brush margarine or butter until surface is coated well (if it is not non-stick), lift pan with one hand, pour a ladle full (about ¼ cup) of batter with the other and swirl pan around in a circular motion until sides of the pan are coated in a thin layer of the batter and the remainder of the batter settles in the centre.

3. Place back on the stove, cover with a lid and cook for 1 ½ minutes.  Uncover and remove to plate.  Appams should slide out quite easily.

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Appam should look like a small bowl or plate with a flat, soft centre and sides that are curved inward, crisp and lacy.  Serve these delicious Quick Cook Appams with a side of Kerala Vegetable Ishtu for a healthy and tasty meal.  If you want a sweet version of appam check out the Appam with Condensed Coconut Milk recipe.

Restaurant Style Butter Chicken – Best/Healthiest/Fastest

Serves 4

Butter chicken is possibly the most recognized and ordered Indian dish around the world.  Succulent pieces of chicken are cooked in an aromatic, flavourful, rich, smooth tomato cream sauce.  The subtle hints of ground dry red chilies, ground coriander and garam masala elevate this dish to its status as the most enjoyed Indian curry around.  With a few restaurant secrets and some lower calorie alternatives you can enjoy Punjabi Murgh Mekhani (more popularly known as butter chicken) that looks and tastes just like at the restaurant without any of the extra calories!  Oh, and it takes just half an hour to make.  Follow this recipe and you’ll be totally delighted with the end results.  Let’s get started.

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Restaurant Style Butter Chicken – Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (this is a good way to use leftover rotisserie chicken or tandoori chicken)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cinnamon stick, 4 crushed cardamom pods, 4 cloves
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 500ml crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ lemon, juiced
  • ½ – 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. ground dry red chilies
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp. ground almonds or almond paste
  • 1 tsp. garam masala (if you do not have whole spices then use 2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cream, for garnish (optional)
  • Handful coriander leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large, non-stick heavy bottom pan over medium-high and add butter.  Add the cinnamon stick, crushed cardamom pods and cloves and sauté until aromatic, 1 minute.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté a few seconds; add the onions and salt and sauté until onions are soft, 2 minutes.
  3. Add the ground dry red chilies, ground coriander and turmeric, toss and add the crushed tomatoes.  Reduce heat to medium-low, add the lemon juice and water, stir and simmer for 10 minutes until tomatoes are no longer raw and sauce starts to thicken.
  4. If you want a really smooth, restaurant style sauce you can turn off the heat and blend everything together using an emersion blender until smooth.  Turn heat back on to medium-low, add the chicken and cook for 1 minute to let the chicken warm through.
  5. Add the milk and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.  Add the ground almonds or almond paste and stir until well combined and the curry starts to thicken slightly.
  6. Add the garam masala and sugar and stir until well combined.  Taste test and adjust salt and sugar according to taste.

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To serve, transfer to a large serving dish, drizzle with cream and top with coriander leaves.  Butter chicken goes well with naan and plain white cooked basmati rice.  The secret to achieving restaurant style butter chicken is to use canned crushed tomatoes instead of pureeing tomatoes yourself.  The deep red colour of the canned crushed tomatoes will provide the necessary colour without adding artificial coloring.  The ground almonds or almond paste give this dish an authentic taste as traditionally ground nuts were used in India to thicken curries.  The sugar provides a nice balance to the other flavours, which makes for a tasty and nuanced dish.

Chicken 65 – South Indian Style Chicken Bites (Healthy Oil-Free Baked Version)

Serves 4

Chicken 65 is a favourite South Indian appetizer. It’s often served with lemon wedges, sliced red onions and yogurt based dips.  There’s a bit of mystery behind why it’s called ‘chicken 65.’  Some claim it’s because the chicken has to be 65 days old and yet others claim because the authentic version has 65 spices.  The version that makes the most sense is that it was the 65th item on the Indian Army mess menu.  Whatever the back story is, it’s the taste that matters.  This version foregoes deep frying and instead the chicken is baked to perfection in the oven.  It’s so delicious and savory and zingy and spicy that you won’t miss the deep fryer.  Let’s get started.

Chicken 65

Chicken 65 – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks*
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp. garam Masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground dried red chilies
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • Couple drops of red food colouring (optional)

* You can cut the chicken smaller, but I prefer to keep them a bit big so they bake nice and juicy.

Instructions

  1. Make a couple of deep slits in the chicken pieces, add salt and lime juice and combine, set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine rest of the ingredients together until mixture is smooth.  Add to chicken and mix until well coated.   Cover and marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  3. When marinated preheat oven to 435 degrees on convection bake and bake chicken until tender, 25 minutes.
  4. Flip chicken over and broil for 5 minutes until darkened in places.  Remove to plate.

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Serve with lemon wedges and mint and green chili dip.  It’s so savory, slightly spicy and goes perfectly well with the lemon and mint-chili dip that you’ll be smacking your lips.  This is one of my favourite appetizers, but it can also be served as a main course with naan and a side salad topped with mint-chili dip.  For cocktail parties, serves on skewers with lemon and mint-chili dip drizzled over.  Yum!