Some old flour, a much, much older oven that clung to me, refusing to be given away, some yeast bought expressly for this purpose, a casual remark about how we made this only once and ages ago at that - these were the elements that combined to have me make the Taftan. It was a tough enterprise - though I didn't do most of the kneading by myself, the little that I did pained me, and the end result, while edible, wasn't desirable.
Most of you don't know, because I have mostly forgotten myself, that I used to be an acknowledged baker. In my own right, of course. I can't even say my repertoire was limited, because what I baked didn't extend to any breadth that can qualify to call itself a repertoire, but I achieved some success with brownies which my cousins would request me to make repeatedly, the summer/s they visited. We didn't have an oven at home those days but my dad repaired an old one that used to belong to his sister and I launched into cooking, with baking. I made a savarin, some crumbly cakes, some souffles, and then I went on to post-post-graduation and my experiments took a break.
When I became the chief cook in a kitchen a few years later, The Spouse and I went shopping for an oven, one of my dream buys. I then made some more cakes, some more puddings, some kababs and Taftan. It was quite a long time ago so I don't remember how it turned out, but I don't remember it becoming crisp, like it did this time.
Then I stopped baking such stuff but managed to use the oven for the odd baked potato. I even sent it away recently because it was taking up too space in my small kitchen in my once new but now not-so-new home. For various reasons, I brought it back recently, and am I glad I wasn't able to give it away!
Despite the middling result of the tough experiment, I decided to post it all the same hoping you can tell me what went wrong with it. The recipe is taken from Rotis and Naans of India by Purobi Babbar. The recipe was for eight taftaans, I halved the amounts and made four.
Plain flour/maida - 2 cups
Dry yeast - 2 tbsp
Plain curds/yoghurt - 1 tbsp
Sugar - 1.5 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Nigella/Kalonji - 1 tbsp
Milk - 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp
Sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm milk until it starts to froth.
Sift flour in a bowl with salt. Make a well in the centre and post the yeast mixture with curd and 1 tbsp of ghee. Mix well.
Knead well for 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Rub oil in a warm large bowl. Place the dough, cover and leave it to swell for 6-8 hours.
Knead the dough again. Divide into four equal portions and shape into balls. Keep aside again for 20 minutes.
Pat the dough into a circle in your palm, keeping them think in the centre and thicker around the rim. Now pull one side to give the naan the shape of a tear drop.
Brush the top with melted ghee and sprinkle the nigella. Place them in a baking tray.
Bake in a pre-heated oven (190 C/375 F) for 2-4 minutes until brown specks appear.
It took much longer than 2-4 minutes, maybe 10 or more minutes per batch of two.
It was crisp outside, and the inside was not well done - it was moist/sticky.
AND THE NIGELLA SEEDS GAVE OFF COLOUR AND SMUDGED THE NAANS WHEN I SMOOTHED THEM ON TO THE NAANS BEFORE I POPPED THEM IN THE OVEN!!! Yes, I'm shouting.
This goes to Think Spice Think Nigella/Kalonji, the event started by Sunita and hosted by Dee this month.
Think Spice Think Nigella Kalonji Taftan Nostalgia