Monday, 16 January 2012

Stand By Your Naan

 Our days here in France are numbered. Mariquita will set sail for the UK in April which will come upon us in no time at all. Or maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself due to the Spring-like weather and rising crew numbers. I suppose it is still just January and we have got the fire lit. But when we do set sail for the UK we will be heading ever closer to my new house.

I may have been a little distracted lately. George and I have finally found our dream cottage in Suffolk and I am a little bit more than over-excited. I have wanted this for a very long time, somewhere to call my own; to lay my hat and to one day settle down in when I’m a big girl. My own sunny kitchen, fragrant herb garden and my own welcoming front door with a decent knocker. I’ve had it all worked out in my head for a very long time which you will know if you read my blog back in May last year, ‘My Other Life and Baked Bananas’.

It’s still all a little surreal if I’m honest and until I have the keys in my hand, I’m not going to actually believe my dream is coming true.

So today I decided to distract myself from constantly looking at the few pictures I have of my future home and get down to some experimenting in the crew house kitchen in La Garde Freinet, France.

Last night I made a curry. It was a delicious chicken curry with rice. However there was one important thing missing from my curry that can’t be bought or ordered from a take-away unless you want to drive all the way to Nice.

Naan bread. I love it. And a proper curry is night is not complete without naan bread involved. My favourite naan bread is Peshwari Naan. The soft pillowy dough filled with a nutty almond and coconut sweetness, all buttery and soothing and apparently the village my new house is in, has a great Indian take-away… sorry, distracted again.

So I made my own. Six little sweet, doughy naan’s which took a mere 30 minutes and tasted fantastic. All the better for mopping up those tasty curry sauces and a great centre piece for a curry night – homemade naan’s. Brill.

For 6 Peshwari Naan’s you will need;

450g self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp plain yoghurt
2 beaten eggs
100 ml water
50 ml milk
50g melted butter (or ghee if you've got it)

40g butter
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tbsp ground almonds
1 tbsp hazelnuts
½ tsp garam masala
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of half


  • Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the cumin seeds, oil, yoghurt and beaten eggs and begin to mix well with a fork. Slowly add the water and milk at the same time little by little and when it’s all starting to come together, get your hands in there and work it all into a soft dough. You may not need to add all the milk and water if looks like it might get too sticky.

  • Knead the dough for a minute or two until it's nice and smooth and then cover and leave to rest for around 15 minutes.

  • Heat the oven to 220ºc, gas mark 7 and heat up a large, heavy non-stick baking sheet in preparation for the naan’s.
  • Put all the peshwari ingredients in a blender and whizz till you have a grainy paste.

  • Now divide the dough into 6 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball in your hands. Now take 2 of the dough balls and with a rolling pin roll them into rounds on a floured surface. Take a good tbsp of the peshwari filling and smear it onto one side of the round. Then wet the edges of the round with water and fold the dough over, sealing the edges shut. Roll out gently again with the rolling pin and either roll into a round or try to get the classic tear shape. But any shape will do. And roll them as thin as you dare, they really puff up in the oven.

  • Carefully take the hot baking sheet out of the oven and put the two naan’s onto the tray and return to the hot oven for about 4 minutes. Take out of the oven and keep the naan’s warm wrapped in a tea towel. When you have rolled and cooked all the naan’s, turn the grill onto high. Brush the naan’s with a good smear of melted butter (or ghee) and then put them under the grill to lightly brown.
  • Brush them all again with melted butter and then wrap in a tea-towel till you are ready to serve.

Ideally you should serve these straight away but if you do make them in advance, sprinkle with some water before putting in a hot oven for a few minutes which will soften them up nicely.

It’s got a fish and chip shop too our village. Now that’s exciting. An Indian and a fish and chip shop. My British take-away taste buds are obviously starved here in France. Poor me with all that delicious French bread and Magret De Canard and fig jam with camembert... But home is where the heart is and soon we’ll be sailing back, home bound. And I can’t wait!

Thanks for reading,