spelt skillet naan

spelt skillet naan

Naan, is probably the most popular menu item requested at my home whenever I invite guests over for an Indian meal. It has all the good qualities of a flatbread bread which in my opinion are: be able to sop up and grab curries, gravies and sauces or even morsels of vegetables or meat. I like my naans to be soft and tender in texture and blistered for that delicious caramelized flavor. There is also something wonderful to be said about preparing your own bread at home, be it in an oven or in a skillet. As the heat hits the dough, it brings about the warm nutty flavors of the grain, lending an aromatic sweetness to the air which makes it simply perfect. There are so many different kinds of wonderful flatbreads that are cooked in different cultures and hopefully, I will have tried my hand at making each and every one of them by some point in my life! 

spelt skillet naan

I've shared a few naan recipes here in the past and using my skillet still remains my favorite way to prepare them. This new version uses spelt flour, an ancient ancestor of modern day wheat. The addition of spelt to this recipe adds fiber and nutrients making these traditional Indian flatbreads a healthier option. Stick with the ratios for the two flours, here to get a soft naan. I would highly recommend using a food scale to weigh the flours, having a simple, good quality, reliable scale is really worth the investment. 

nigella and flour

In this recipe, I use a combination of sea-salt crystals and nigella seeds to season the naan. Alternatively, you can also use my cilantro-garlic butter seasoning to flavor the naans. It is completely up to you! This basic naan recipe also works well when you want to stuff the naans with vegetables like I did previously in these pumpkin naans. To cook the naans on the skillet, you can use either vegetable or melted butter, both work great and each gives it's own unique flavor to the bread.

spelt skillet naan with nigella

spelt skillet naan

yields : 12 naans

ingredients

9 1/4 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour + a little extra flour for rolling out the naans
9 1/4 ounces (2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) spelt flour 
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola oil) or melted butter for cooking the naans (you may end up using less of either to cook the naans)
1/4 cup sea salt crystals 
1/4 cup nigella seeds

1. Sift the 9 1/4 ounces of all-purpose and spelt flours, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Add any grain bits that might be left behind back into the flour. Do this three times.
2. Add the sifted flour, eggs, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough blade attachment, combine the ingredients completely and mix on low speed until it comes together to form a ball of dough. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently knead the dough in the same bowl to form a ball. Brush the one tablespoon of oil over the dough, cover the dough with cling film and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours . 
3. Place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 equal parts using a knife or a pastry scraper. The dough will be slightly elastic. Take one part and roll it into a ball with your hands. Stretch the dough into a tear-drop shape by pulling it gently in one direction and using the base of your palm to hold it down at the opposite end. Each stretched out naan should not be too thin or it will tear. Sprinkle a little bit of the nigella seeds and sea salt over the surface of the naan (you can use as little or as much as you want with the nigella and salt, I personally tend to use less salt). Press the seeds and salt crystals into the naan by rolling the seasoned surface lightly with a rolling pin.
4. Heat a skillet with a tight fitting lid on a high flame, add one  teaspoon of oil and spread the oil by rotating the skillet with your hand. As soon as the oil is heat, slap the bottom surface (unseasoned side) of the naan directly on to the skillet. Cover the skillet immediately with the lid. This seals the steam in which is necessary to cook the naan and give it its characteristic blistered appearance. Drizzle another teaspoon of vegetable oil over the naan. After about 3-4 minutes, flip the naan and reduce the flame to a medium and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove the hot naan and keep it covered between a layer of clean cloth or paper towels to absorb the steam. Serve hot/warm. Naan is best eaten the day it is prepared, however if you need to store them, wrap the flatbread between clean kitchen paper towel sheets and store in an airtight gallon ziploc bag. 

cocoa cinnamon sea salt cookies "nankhatais"

nankhatais cocoa sea salt and cinnamon

I'm placing the pies on the side right now because it's really time to focus on baking cookies and cakes. I love Christmas for the food and desserts but also because it has always been one of my favorite holidays of the year. Every year around this time, my mom would get together with her mother and sisters to prepare loads of holiday sweets. This is something they took very seriously and still do so much so that I know my mother would take time off from her job to bake and prepare tons of holiday desserts. 

sea salt crystals

We also had another tradition, where we'd take sweets to our neighbors and friends. This is something, I was never a big fan of and I always preferred sharing the sweets that were at the lower end of my "dessert-love scale". My mom on the other hand would reevalute the contents of the gift basket and undo all my hardwork, so the good stuff went back in. I am really not sure who benefited from this exercise but it clearly wasn't me! 

Salt sprinkling

These days, I make holiday desserts that I really, really love and make enough to gift to friends and family while keep enough to last us for a few weeks. These cookies are fall into this special category of holiday desserts that I must make every year. They bring back nostalgic childhood memories of baking with my mother and her family, memories laced with sugar, flour and above all things, love. Indian "

Nankhatais"

as these cookies are commonly known, are crispy and eggless. You will love them, the cookies are crisp all-throughout with a deep dark cocoa flavor with a hint of black pepper and cinnamon that will warm you up. The center of each cookie is topped with a generous sprinkling of sea salt crystals that will shock your tastebuds with a delicious amalgam of sensory wonder.

If you like the combination sea salt and chocolate, you will love my

mixed multigrain muffins

. They are a great addition to your breakfast table at Christmas.

cookies all salted
plate of cocoa cinnamon sea salt  nankhatais

This recipe calls for the use of Indian ghee or clarified butter. Ghee is super easy to make and has a wonderful fragrance and taste. You simply melt unsalted butter in a thick bottomed stock pot until all the fat has melted and the milk solids have separated. The butter is melted and cooked on a low flame to prevent burning of the solids (this is different from browned butter where you want to use the browned milk solids for flavor) but not boiled. The melted fat is then passed through a sieve lined with several layers of muslin/cheese cloth to filter out the separated solids. The resultant fat that is collected is ghee and stored in the refrigerator. It solidifies as it cools. I've been finding ghee in most grocery stores these days but if you need to prepare it at home, start with 3-31/2 sticks of butter to get around 2 cups of ghee using the instructions I just described. 

cocoa sea salt nankhatais

cocoa cinnamon sea salt cookies "nankhatais"

yields:

approximately 2 dozen 2 inch cookies

ingredients

4 cups ( 1lb 3/8 oz) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (2 ounces) dark cocoa, unsweetened

1 teaspoon instant dark roast coffee

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground

1 3/4 cups raw dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) ghee/clarified unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

2 to 3 tablespoons sea salt crystals

1. Whisk all the dry ingredients from the flour to the sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. 

2. Add the ghee to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high speed until combined. The mixture should acquire a fine crumb-like texture. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours. 

There is no need to bring the dough together to form one large ball, just store the dough in the crumb-like phase.

3. Before baking the cookies, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350F and place the baking rack in the middle section of the oven. Take some of the mix in your hands and press and mold together to form small one inch balls. The warmth from your hands will soften the ghee and help to bring the cookies together. Flatten the ball into discs that are about 2 inches in diameter. The cookie discs might crack a little on the edges so press and mold them gently. If they do crack a little, just push the cracked ends closer to seal the gap. (Personally, I don't mind a few minor cracked edges). Sprinkle a pinch of the sea-salt crystals over each cookie.

5. Place the cookie balls on cookie/baking sheet pre lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges start to get crisp and appear a little darker than the color of the cocoa. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely and store in air-tight container for up to two weeks. 

sea salt chocolate muffins

Sea salt chocolate muffin

On some mornings, all I want is a muffin, a deep and dark chocolate muffin with my coffee. Okay, perhaps more than one would be ideal and even perfect but either way I really like a good dose of cocoa in them. It's really the best way for me to double my daily am dose of caffeine with a whole lot of joy! Coffee with chocolate it can't get any better than that.

Brown sugar

I never ate a lot of muffins because most of the time they were either too sweet or too greasy and they also never had any interesting flavors that I would have wanted to try. Personally, I like my breakfast muffins to be multigrain or wholegrain based and I am a big fan of oat and oat bran in the mornings. So with the desire to keep things wholesome, I added a couple of different flours into the batter; oat bran, brown rice and whole-wheat give a delicious soft and grainy texture. 

Sea salt chocolate muffins

This is a very deep dark chocolatey muffin with a little bit of sea salt on the crust. When you take a bite into the muffin, the combination of the sea salt with the dark chocolate is simply amazing. The flavors intensify and every subsequent bite is even more exciting than the first, exactly the way I'd like to start my mornings. 

Muffin cocoa and salt

You only need to sprinkle a few salt crystals on top of each muffin, halfway through baking. If you put them on before they will start to sink which is why I recommend placing them once the muffins are slightly firm on the surface but not completely baked. I used a standard 12 cup muffin pan to bake these guys and you could use a smaller sized 24 cup pan as well, just make sure you divide the batter equally between the cups in the pan. You can eat these muffins warm or even at room temperature. Store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days. 

Whole grain sea salt chocolate muffin


sea salt chocolate muffins

yields: 12 muffins

ingredients 

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon dark roast instant coffee powder
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled
1 2/3 cups brown sugar
5 large eggs, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used the madagascar bourbon variety)
1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sea salt crystals

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and place the wire rack in the middle position. Line a standard muffin cake pan with baking cup liners. 
Mix and sift all the dry ingredients from the cocoa to the baking powder.  Transfer any grain bits back to the dry mix. Keep aside.
2. Cube the butter and transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and fix the paddle attachment to the mixer. Cream the butter and sugar on medium low speed for 5 minutes. Add one egg at a time and beat until completely smooth.  Add the vanilla and mix for another 30 seconds on medium low speed. 
3. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients from step 1 to the creamed eggs. Mix on medium low speed until smooth and completely blended, approximately 3 minutes. Add the yogurt to the batter and beat for 1 minute. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat for another 3 minutes until completely mixed.
4. Divide the batter equally among the muffin pan cups. Bake the muffins for 12 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the salt crystals over the muffins. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes until the centers are firm to touch or skewer comes out clean from the center of the muffin. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool further.