Oven-Baked Zaatar Naan

Zaatar Naan Copyright ©ShulieMadnick

In Sanskrit, tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven, was referred to as kandu. 

The word originated from the middle Persian tanûr is traced back to the Akkadian (2334 - 2218 BCE) word "tinūru, which consists of the parts tin "mud" and nuro/nura "fire" and is mentioned as early as in the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh.

It's a Semitic word known in the Dari Persian as tandūr and tannūr, in Armenian as t'onir, in Georgian as tone, in Arabic as tannūr, in Hebrew; tanúr, in Turkish; tandır, in Uzbek; tandir, in Azerbaijani; astəndir, and in Kurdish as tenûr, according to a Persian dictionary. 

Breads, chicken, and other foods are commonly cooked in tandoors, reaching 900 F/480 C, throughout Central Asia and the neighboring regions and Southeast Asia, including India and Pakistan. 

"Small mud plastered ovens with side openings closely resembling present-day tandoors have been excavated at Kalibangan, an Indus valley site" from the 1550 BC -3500 BC Harappan civilization period in northwest India," writes K.T.Achaya in 'A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food.

While naan and the terminology/word tandoor were brought to India by the Muslims in the 13th and 16th centuries, the archaeological excavations point to the earlier use of clay ovens as a method of baking and cooking in India. 

Left: Naan puffed on a pizza stone inside 550 F/288 C oven Right: oven-baked naan Copyright ©ShulieMadnick

Notes:

Peek into Cast-Iron Garlic Naan, the first post in the naan series. It might help with understanding the stove-top technique and naan's history. The cast-iron naan post also gives different visuals and links that might be helpfu in making the oven baked naan belowl.

The oven-baked naan doesn't have the dramatic blisters it forms when the naan cooks on the cast iron like in this Cast-Iron Garlic Naan, but it puffs beautifully in the oven without much fuss. 
 
 If you keep kosher, serve naan with parve, non-meat vegetarian or fish, dishes, like daal.

Oven-Baked Zaatar Naan
makes 8

this is recipe can be doubled

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup yogurt

Cast-Iron Garlic Naan

Cast Iron Naan Copyright ©ShulieMadnick

Naan in Persian means bread. The name goes by several variations, including non and nān, throughout central and southeast Asia. It's a leavened flatbread made with yeast and white flour traditionally baked in tandoor, a rounded cylindrical clay oven with a round opening at the top. The rolled-out dough is slapped onto the tandoor walls, puffs, and beautifully blisters from the coal embers at the bottom radiating 900 F/480 C heat throughout.

Naan was first mentioned in English in a 1780 travelogue,  'Russia: Or, A Compleat Historical Account of All the Nations which Compose that Empire,' written by the English clergyman William Tooke. In his travelogue, Tooke covered central Asian eating habits where he wrote, "The most common dishes are onoschi, or vermicelli; plav, or boiled rice; nan, pancakes, and the meats which the law permits."

Earlier, in 1300 AD, "naan-e-tanuk (light bread) and naa-e-tanuri (cooked in a tandoor oven) at the imperial court in Delhi" were noted in Amir Kushrau's, an Indo-Persian poet's writings. 
Copyright ©ShulieMadnick

The naan arrived in India with the Muslim conquerors. First in the 13th century with the Sultanate and in the 16th century with Mughals. It was un-refutably the beginning of naan's massive popularity today. However, the naan was first the food of sultans, royals, and imperial Mughals. It was consumed in the mornings with kheema (minced, no sauce, meat) and kebobs.When the royals were done with their feast the leftovers were distributed to the poor.
 Copyright ©ShulieMadnick

Notes: 

The naan dough is more supple and sumptuous, enriched with milk, ghee (clarified butter), and yogurt. It comes in many regional variations, oven-baked, traditional teardrop-shaped, and modern twists, which I will share in upcoming posts in this naan series.

The round-shaped naan fits the cast iron better. You can use a non-cast-iron pan. Ghee (clarified butter) is a traditional Indian ingredient, but often I like to use olive oil. If you keep kosher, serve naan with parve, non-meat vegetarian or fish, dishes, like daal.

Cast-Iron Garlic Naan
makes 8

This is recipe can be easily doubled 

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee (clarified butter)

Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Copyright ©ShulieMadnick

Not an ice cream bit but a vanilla bit:

This past week Martha Stewart making green chocolate brownies with Snoop Dogg came across my Instagram feedWatch minute 3:20 when they add in the vanilla. I just died. Snoop Dogg goes: "Which one is the vanilla?" Martha points to the vanilla: "It's over there." Snoop Dogg: "Vanilla is burgundy (I think he said burgundy. Watch and let me know.)?" Martha Steward: "Brown. Yeah." Snoop Dogg: "Why they call it vanilla when it's..." Well, watch the rest yourselves. It's hilarious. 

Now a bit about the ice cream:

I realized that although I have posted several ice cream recipes on Foodwanderings, I haven't posted a straightforward vanilla ice cream here. Though the vanilla is the base for many of the ice creams appearing in this space. 

I will switch it up at times and use a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean if the ice cream is, say, rum raisin. I don't see the point of going through an entire process of splitting the bean and scraping the vanilla seeds, etc., when the end flavor I wish to achieve is rum raisin or coffee or banana-flavored ice creams, for that matter. Besides, the vanilla bean pods are super expensive. Though prices for the pure extract aren't cheap either. If I keep the ice cream a pure vanilla flavor, I use a vanilla bean. Once I didn't go and buy vanilla beans when I ran out but used the extract due to the prohibitive cost. 

But I must admit that I was at times extra fancy (which now I don't see the point) in the past and made rum raisin, salted caramel, and other flavors by adding the extra step of splitting and scraping the bean.

And if you want to learn further why vanilla is so expensive, read this piece about the politics behind vanilla and why the prices are spiked. 

I also want to discuss a bit photographing ice cream. 

It's darn frustrating. Especially if I don't use any artificial components (which I don't)  and food stylists' bags of tricks. Often the ice creams you see in magazines aren't edible. Even though I am not very happy with the photograph above. It's out of focus, in all honesty (I've been working on it all morning and gave up eventually). And artistically, I preferred the pre-cropped version of this image. But the cropped one here gives you guys a closer look at the various textures and dark speckles of the vanilla seeds. 

Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream