A Naan-Traditional Meal

In July Alex and I traveled to Phoenix, while we were there we ate at a delicious Lebanese restaurant in Tempe, called Layalena. Before we ate there my middle eastern food experience was extremely limited; in fact I think the only thing I had previously eaten was hummus. Since neither of us knew what to order we decided to order a sampler mezza (appetizer) and the king’s feast for dinner and share it.  The appetizer included: Hummus, baba ganouj, falafel, labneh, m’hammara, and grape leaves. The king’s feast was huge and included: A skewer of kefta kabob, shish tawook, and shish kabob plus a lamb chop. It was a wonderful meal. Since we aren’t on vacation anymore, I had to figure out how to satisfy my craving for that meal at home.

My inspiration for this meal came after we took a trip to the library and I checked out several cookbooks; one was this beautiful book entitled “Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World“. As I flipped through the book (several times) I saw a recipe for Silk Road Non; after reading it over and over I thought I could at least give it a try. What fun it would be to make handmade non (also spelled nan or naan), and a whole middle eastern meal to accompany it. I did a little research and completed my menu with muhammara and shish tawook.

Everything turned out so beautifully, in this case my hard work really paid off.  Alex was presently surprised with a delicious meal when he came home from work, and he requested it becomes part of the meal rotation. So shake up your recipe collection and try something naan-traditional!If you need inspiration, head to your local library. Many libraries are stocked with recipe books from around the world.

Silk Road Non
Makes 12 round breads
From: Home Baking

2 tsp active dry yeast
3 c warm water
7 to 9 c AP Flour (or 2 c whole wheat flour, plus 4-6 c AP flour)
1 T salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 c rendered lamb fat melted, (or 4 T unsalted butter, melted)

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add 3 cups of the flour (if using whole wheat flour, add it and 1 c AP), a cup at a time, stirring well until a smooth batter forms, then stir for another minute, always stirring in the same direction. If you have the time, cover your bowl with plastic wtap and let stand for 30 minutes, or as long as 3 hours, if more convenient.

Sprinkle on 1 T salt and stir in. Add 3 T of the lamb fat or butter and fold in. Continue to add the flour, a cup at a time, stirring and folding it in until dough becomes too stiff to stir.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes.

Place the dough in a clean blow, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until at least doubled in volume, about 2 hours. (For more flavor, set in a cool place to rise for 8 hours, or overnight.)

Place rack in upper third of oven and place a large baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, (or baking sheet) on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it in half and set one half aside, covered. Cut the remaining dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and then flatten with the floured palm of your hand. With a rolling pin, begin rolling it out into thin rounds about 8 inches in diameter. The dough may resist stretching, so work with 2 rounds at once to give the gluten in the dough time to stretch and relax. Roll out 1 round as far as it will easily go, then work on a second before coming back to the first to roll it out a little more.  As you complete each round, set aside on a lightly floured surface, covered with a towel or with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes before baking.

To shape the breads for baking, warm the remaining 1 T lamb fat or butter until very liquid and place by your work surface, together with a pastry brush and salt. Lightly dust a peel with flour. Place a dough round on the peel, then stamp or prick with center of the round thoroughly and vigorously with a fork, leaving a 1 inch rim. Brush lightly all over with lamb fat or butter, then sprinkle the center with a generous pinch of salt. Transfer to the baking stone, placing it to one side to leave room for another bread. Prepare the next bread, and slide into the over beside the first.

Bake for 5 1/2 – 7 minutes, until well flecked with gold. Place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes or so, then wrap in a cotton cloth to keep warm.

As this post is already incredibly long I will just include links to the other recipes. Mahammara is a red pepper and walnut dip. It is delicious with naan. Mahammara link is here. Also I recommend you roast your own red peppers; I couldn’t believe how easy it was, click here for a how to roast your own peppers tutorial.

Shish Tawook is a marinated and grilled chicken. It is so easy to make and tastes wonderful with muhammara. I used a combination of recipes. The original recipes can be found here and here.

Shish Tawook

1/2 c Plain yogurt (I used sour cream)
1/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
2 T ketchup
2 T yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
2-3 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts (cut into strips)

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Stir in chicken pieces, coating all sides with marinade. Cover bowl, and refrigerate overnight. Skewer chicken onto kabobs, grill until cook through.

Chart House Restaurant

While in the Phoenix area, Alex and I ate at the Chart House restaurant, this restaurant was AMAZING! You get your moneys worth here. The price of the entrees were between $25-$30. I ordered their Spiced Yellowfin Ahi Tuna. I’ve always wanted to order tuna in a restaurant, and figured given the “fanciness” of the resaurant, they would probably know how to cook tuna perfectly. The tuna was the BEST PIECE OF MEAT I’VE EVER HAD. Being from the Midwest, I have had delicious and tender, steak and pork, but this tuna blew them out of the water.

The Yellowfin was flavored with cajun spices, then grilled. It was set upon a ginger soy butter sauce (YUM!). The tuna was served with a wasabi cream on top of carrot ribbons, and a side of spinach & bok choy (which they neglected to put on my plate). While I was busy poking around the carrot ribbons (looking for my spinach) I picked up a giant fork full of the wasabi cream, boy did that open up my sinuses. The tuna was cooked to perfection, so tender and juicy. As I took my first bite,  I placed the tuna on my tounge and it melted away. MMMMMMMMM! So good! This is something I want try to tackle in my kitchen.

Hotel Cooking

My husband and I are in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ for a FileMaker Developer Conference. (That is FileMaker DevCon to you techies. ) Alex is in conferences all day, while I am enjoying my time reading, exercising and swimming at the hotel. Unfortunately since I am not a conference “attendee”, I am on my own for food. I can be resourceful, I can survive.

When we arrived, we went to the grocery store and picked up a few snackie foods, something to get me by during the day. We then went to our hotel to check in, much to my surprise, NO MICROWAVE! For breakfast I had Quaker Oatmeal, that I made by heating water in the small coffee pot. It was delicious, except I had to eat it luke warm, because there where no utensils, and I had to use my fingers. Yeah I am roughing it.  Lunch consisted of Yoplait Yo-Plus yogurt (eaten with my fingers and for digestive health) and cheese slices with Toasted Wheat Thins chips, not too terrible. I did call the front desk and ask if there was a microwave for their guests to use, well lo and behold they delivered one to my room.

Tonight’s meal is looking more promising; we are going out to eat with my husband’s boss and his wife. Chart House Restaurant was recommended to his boss; I checked out the menu, everything sounds like it is going to be delicious; I just wonder if it will cost both arms and legs to eat.