Servings : Makes 4-6
This naan is very famous in Mombasa (and probably in most parts of E/Africa too!). In some places this bread is known as Ajam Naan, or mkate wa Ajam. Soft thin naans with crispy edges, made from a batter instead of a dough like other naans. The batter is spread out to form the naans one at a time on a hot tawa/pan and simsim seeds are sprinkled all over the sticky top…then it is cooked over slow heat until done.
The authentic recipe uses coconut milk in the batter. So the naans turn out really delicious and soft, with that awesome coconut flavour.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. instant yeast
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. melted butter
- 1/2 cup thick/heavy coconut milk
- 3/4 cup cup thin/light coconut milk or regular milk (slightly warmed)
- sesame seeds
Sift the flour in a wide/deep bowl. Add sugar, salt and yeast. Stir together. Then add the melted butter and the half cup of heavy coconut milk. Mix with your hand or a whisk. Now gradually add the WARM light coconut milk or regular milk into the dough and keep mixing until it becomes a slightly thick batter. You may not require the full amount to reach this stage, just keep adding the liquid a little at a time until the batter resembles that of a cake (dropping consistency).
Once the consistency is reached, whisk briskly for about 5-8 minutes. DO NOT SKIP THIS STAGE!! If not whisked well, the results will end up stretchy and rubbery instead of soft. (Good arm exercise here! :P)
Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for about an hour or two…or until the batter is risen and more than doubled in volume. This means the batter is ready. Wet your hand and sort of mix the batter to remove the air. Cover and keep it handy next to the stove where you will be making the naans.
You will need a tawa/flat pan with a handle. It should NOT be non-stick because for this type of naan we actually want the batter to stick to the pan during cooking.
Prepare a bowl with water mixed with some salt. This will be used for sprinkling on the tawa in between naans.
Place the tawa on high heat. When well heated, splash some salt water on it. If the pan is hot enough, the water will form bubbles and sizzle rapidly. With the wet hand or a deep spoon, pick some batter from the bowl and spread it quickly over the tawa, trying to get a thin round naan shape. You can spread out the batter using your hand but you need to be quick.
Immediately, sprinkle some sesame seeds over the top of the naan so they set within the naan as it cooks. Reduce the heat to medium and as soon as the top of the naan becomes dry with just a few wet spots here and there, flip the pan over the flame so that the direct heat cooks the top part of the naan. Now this is a very tricky stage, you can place a grill stand to help catch the naan in case it falls out of the pan when you flip and to help keep it at a distance from the direct flame. But if done correctly, the naan will stay stuck to the pan and won’t fall out. Make sure you keep the heat on very low at this stage so as not to burn the naans.
You can achieve similar results by popping the pan under a hot oven grill for a few minutes if you are too scared to flip the pan over the stove-top. Just make sure to protect the handle of your pan if it is made of rubber or plastic by covering it with aluminum foil.
Once the top of your naan is nicely spotted and cooked, slide a spatula under the naan gently to release it from the tawa and turn it into a hot-pot or kitchen towel to keep it soft and warm. Brush the top with a bit of melted butter.
Before re-using the tawa/pan, wipe it clean with a kitchen towel…then place it on the heat, splash the salty water like you did the first time and THEN add the next amount of batter for the next naan.
Continue until all the naans are done. Once you have the system/routine down, making these naans becomes sooo easy.
Serve these naans with chicken tikka, kababs or curries of your choice. They are soooo YUM!!