For the record: Lisa Gibson Fischer is adorable.
Though she is mostly known in central Arkansas as the effervescent co-host of B98.5’s morning radio show, Fischer is also an excellent cook, hosting the “Made from Scratch” series entry focusing on Indian cuisine at the Rockefeller Institute in Morrilton earlier this month.
I felt a little strange cheating on my homies over at Pulaski Tech, but this was subject matter I hadn’t learned yet. I had wanted to take International Cuisine this semester, but it didn’t fit into my mommy-schedule. I also wanted to check out the new Rockefeller Institute, a stunning educational and meeting facility seated atop Petit Jean Mountain. With culinary education all the rage these days, they built a lovely teaching kitchen, with a stadium-seating lecture hall alongside a small hands-on lab area.
In the class, we started off with naan bread (a puffy, yeasted flatbread), a chicken coconut curry soup, and a mango lassi (mango puree with yogurt).
Shall I interject: I have been SO good lately with the gluten-free thing. But this day…there was just something about making bread. I hadn’t made yeast bread of any sort since going GF. I. Couldn’t. Resist.
I ate at least one whole naan, maybe more. It was in pieces, to feed my self-deception that I would only eat a bite. So, by the time we’re working on the next dishes, my eyes are puffy, I’m exhausted, and my muscles, which have avoided significant pain for several months now, started to cramp and seize.
Anywho, it was probably worth it. The naan is DELISH. (See below for my gluten-free version.)
While I sank into glutenized stupor, we made Saag Paneer and Coconut Shrimp Curry, both surprisingly mild and delicious.
Surprise bonus: My seating neighbor and lab partner just so happened to be Dr. Meenakshi Budhraja, a gastroenterologist who is on the cutting edge of all things relating to food and/as medicine. She and I have tried for months to get together to finish a journal article we’re co-writing on the topic, and our schedules haven’t jelled. More on that another day.
I could go on about all the details of the event, but I’ll just say you should sign up for (1) Lisa’s “repeat” coming up at KitchenCo with the same recipes, and (2) anything at the Rockefeller Institute. It’s a stellar facility with a fantastic staff, culinary and otherwise.
Back to the naan. After driving 45 minutes or so home in a glutened haze, I knew I had to come up with a gluten-free version. As of yet, I had only stockpiled GF flours, hoping to one day have the time to play. I made the time when I got home.
Gluten Free Naan Bread
(Inspired by Bread in Five)
- 160g brown rice flour
- 110g sorghum flour
- 255g potato starch
- 1 T. yeast
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 T. xanthan gum
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/3 c. lukewarm water
- 2 T. + 2 tsp veg or olive oil
- 1 T. honey
Mix the flours, starch, yeast, salt, and xanthan gum REALLY (no, really) well in the bowl of your stand mixer. I am generally against sifting, so I used a whisk to mix things up thoroughly. You could also use the whisk attachment of your mixer. Now place the dough hook on your mixer and proceed.
In a separate, small bowl, break up the eggs a bit with a whisk or fork.
In yet another bowl or largish measuring cup, combine the warm water, oil, and honey.
Pour the eggs into the flour mixture and mix a few seconds. With the mixer on low, slowly add the water/oil mixture until completely emptied.
What’s left in your mixer will slosh around for a few minutes and generally look like a big, sloppy mess. Keep it up.
Depending on your local humidity and altitude, and the questionable accuracy of this, my first gluten-free baking recipe, your dough (like mine) might be a bit soft. This is to be expected, really, as GF doughs tend to come out more like batters. Don’t freak.
Cover your dough and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or two. I have a warming drawer now, but I used to just run my dryer for a few minutes and then place the bowl inside. Instant proof box!
Now, to form our naan: If you have a Silpat, now is the time to bust it out. This stuff is sticky. Sprinkle on a fair amount of rice flour, a little more if your dough is intolerably wet and sticky. Pinch off a golf-ball sized piece of dough and place it on top of your heavy dusting of flour. Sprinkle another heavy dusting of rice flour on the top, all over, so it won’t stick to your method of flattening.
This flattening method is variable, depending on what you’ve got to work with. My awesome hubs got me a Silpat rolling pin for Christmas, which was perfect for this. If your hubs isn’t as awesome as mine, you can pat down your naan using a sheet of plastic wrap or a cut storage bag. Either way, get it down to about a 1/8″ thickness.
Use a large spatula to loosen the dough and get it off the mat, then use the mat itself (or the spatula, if it’s holding together well) to transfer your naan to a waiting, hot skillet with some oil or butter inside. Oh, yeah. Get that ready first, will ya?
I browned the naan on one side, flipped, and browned on the other, and that was enough to cook it through. If yours is thick in spots or otherwise doesn’t seem to be cooking all the way, you can cover it and let it steam a bit.
The dough is quite forgiving if you tear it on the way to the skillet. I’m certainly not advocating that you actually reach your hands down in a hot skillet to press the dough back together, but I’m just saying, I may have done so, and it may have worked.
I scarfed this stuff down with some homemade rice-noodle soup that night, and it was glorious. Hope it works out for at least one or two of you, too.