Naan, Roti, and Poori, Oh My!
It’s probably a given that I love to bake. And cook. And just about anything else that involves fresh ingredients, gorgeous presentations, and dropping flavor bombs from different cultures and cuisines into expectant palates.
Even above and beyond my love of food though, I love to LEARN. I have a real addiction to learning new techniques, methods, combinations. Anything that can teach me a new or different way to do something in the kitchen. When I first started travelling my mind was blown by the realization that not every one cooks like a Minnesotan!! I know it sounds crazy, and I should have known that, and in some regard I kind of must have, but it didn’t really sink in until I saw it with my own eyes. Other countries don’t even know what wild rice and cranberries are – and our crazy dependencies on dairy and wheat are replaced by completely different staples in other parts of the world!
For example, when I was in St. Malo, France, you couldn’t go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of sandwich bread. IT DIDN’T EXIST. Sure you could buy a baguette on every corner, but squishy white bread? Not a thing. Here even the smallest gas station has it! Or in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica – they would have fresh bread for sale in certain areas, early in the morning, but it wasn’t what we thing of as a sandwich bread – and if you didn’t get there fast enough, tough luck! Come back tomorrow!
The reason I say all this, is because recently I’ve been really working on tweaking my methods for making curries, and proper Indian spice blends (spoiler: they don’t come in a glass jar marked ‘curry powder’). I feel that a good curry should be amazing on it’s own, and even better over a bed of rice, or scooped up with a chunk of bread. Naan has always been my go-to accompaniment to my curries, and I do love my Vegan Naan recipe – but as I’ve recently learned, it’s not the only Indian bread. There’s naan of course, and roti. But there is also Phulka, Paratha, Poori – the list goes on and on. Each one with it’s own variations and methods that set it apart.
I can’t even lie. The more I researched it, the more excited I kept getting. I totally food-nerded over these breads. The list went on and on – so I started taking notes. Writing down each type of bread that I needed to try. Some of them turned out to be just variations in terminology, like Chapati and Roti. But many were completely unique. I found puffy flat breads, flat flat bread, puffy puffs of amazing-ness, biscuit-y breads – you name it! The best part was almost everyone of them can be mimicked with my cast iron grill pan and a direct flame.
So I’m going to do it. I’m going to bake them all. Of course it won’t happen over night, and I’m sure certain recipes will take longer than others, but my March 5th (as good a day as any to make a resolution, right?) resolution is to make all of these breads. Of course after making them I’ll be uploading the perfected recipes to my site, so that everyone else can benefit from them too! I’ll try to westernize them where possible, but I have found that changing ingredients often also looses the heart of the recipe. Subbing coconut yogurt in my naan works well, because it stays in the correct flavor profile, but what is even a proper substitute for dried mango powder? I can promise that any ingredients I get, if not easily accessible at the grocery store are only a click away on Amazon (a.k.a. my lifesaver!)
I already have a pretty amazing recipe for naan (with a garlic variation!) that I am planning on getting up sometime this week, so make sure to check back – or subscribe to my email list so I can shoot you a message when it’s up!
If anyone has experience cooking Indian breads (or breads, or Indian food in general) chime in! Let me know how you do it and what your favorites are. I’m not a beginner to making bread, but I am to most ethnic cuisines! All the help I can get is appreciated!
Oh, and Happy Monday! 🙂