The final recipe required to create the most divine Mughlai banquet is this recipe for Peshawari Naan; a soft and fruity coconut-flavoured bread to mop up a variety of sumptuous sauces.
Naan is one of India’s most famous breads, and probably the most well-known Indian bread in British restaurants. Whether it’s flavoured with chilli, garlic and coriander or sultanas and coconut, you can be sure that a good naan will be soft, slightly chewy, a little charred in places and finally, drenched in butter.
Can I share one of my pet peeves with you? The term ‘naan bread’. Want to know why?
Naan means ‘bread’, so saying ‘naan bread’ is about as useful as saying, ‘bread bread’. My point being that by simply saying ‘naan’, the bread part is implied. You wouldn’t say ‘kuchen cake’ would you?
Sultanas and coconut are very traditional ingredients in Peshawari Naan, which can be stuffed with a sweet filling and cooked in a super hot tandoor (clay oven). Simply stick them to the side of the oven walls and watch them puff and bubble up.
Unfortunately my repertoire is not yet bad ass enough to carry off an entire tandoor (the big boy power tool of the Indian kitchen), so I used a domestic grill. Having said this, my birthday is coming up… and you know what that means.
Nuts are also common ingredients in recipes for Peshawari Naan – I skipped these in fear of being all ‘nutted out’ at my Mughlai banquet. Feel free to add almonds or pistachios if you prefer. I also mixed my sultanas and coconut into the dough as opposed to stuffing them inside the naan in order to really simplify the method.
1. Heat the milk to 32°C and whisk in the yeast and sugar. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
2. Mix together all of the other ingredients except the oil. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the oil. Mix in the milk and yeast mixture and bind to a dough. The dough will appear sticky at first but continue kneading for 5-8 minutes, adding another tbsp oil if necessary. When smooth and elastic, place the dough in a large, greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
3. Knock the risen dough back and knead for 2 minutes. Divide into 8-10 pieces.
4. Flour a clean, smooth surface and roll the dough to around ½ cm thickness and pull into a teardrop shape. Sprinkle one side with more coconut and gently roll a rolling pin over to press the coconut into the surface.
5. Place the naan, coconut side down on a piece of foil and grill until golden. Flip and cook the coconut side for a further minute until the coconut is lightly toasted. Butter and serve.
Omit the sultanas, coconut and rose for a recipe for plain naan, or substitute these ingredients to make garlic and coriander naan, chilli naan or cheese naan. They’re simply divine with any Indian curry.