Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Toughtan? Taftan.

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
Some ghee

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.

My experience:

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.


This goes to Think Spice Think Nigella/Kalonji, the event started by Sunita and hosted by Dee this month.


  1. Oh, these are the Taftans you were talking about?
    Looks like Naans, probably softer than Naans. Also looks like you needed to bake those few more mins until golden but not bad at all. I have her book, will check out and make some.
    Nigella seeds bleeds color is new. Hmm..!!Somebody sold you a bad Kalonji? :D
    Great entry, they don't look that bad. You ate them, right?

  2. is this naan by another name? so u are a baker too?:))

  3. Wow anyone who make soufles is indeed a acknowledged baker.
    Well Taftan is almost look like naa, you might reply to me they are same as i have no idea the diffference :-)
    Looks yumm.

  4. sra, I just googled for Taftan and I see few recipes for Taftan made with rice flour(tough texture I am sure!) and they don't look good at all. I think your recipe is way better! :)

  5. I never baked naans before, but eaten a lot. So I don't have the right to tell you something :)

    For me, those naans looks so good and yummy.

  6. Ohhhhhhh this was what you were talking about in Asha's post.

    and LOL@Taftan.

    Checked out cyn's food blog? Its a riot!!

  7. Those look so good, just like the kind you'd find in a dhaba.


  8. i find that adding 50% whole wheat flour gives softer results. esp. with flatbreads, where you don't have to worry about rising. with naans, i find that adding potato to the dough makes it very soft.

  9. Aahhh...."tough" luck indeed....

  10. errr... sorry, my baking skills are non-existent, so no help from me there.BTW, what's wrong with a little color from Nigella seeds? It looks pretty :)

  11. My mom tried baking naans and I just never got the courage. I'm fairly happy staying within what I know... unlike her. :)

    And brownies and souffles count... at least I started with cakes and would consider myself acknowledged... even if I was the only one acknowledging me ;-)

  12. Asha, maybe they were supposed to be softer, mine turned out biscuity. Nigella bleeds color is new to me too. They were edible, of course, just not very right. We ate them.
    Mallugirl, Naan family, I guess. Was a baker of sorts :-)
    Happy, souffles etc all in the past. Now if I make them, I've to sit and eat them, so I gave up.
    Asha, I too googled, for some history, but nothing there, didn't see any rice flour recipes, though!
    Uma, Looks good but they were like dry naans.
    A_and_N, Yes, I did. It is a riot!
    Mamatha, looks only, dear! If it were me in a dhabha, I'd have returned them!
    Bee, ok, if I ever repeat this, potato it shall be!
    Jayashree, :-) Actually, they weren't tough, really just dry. I just used Tough for effect!!!
    Sig, coal on my naan is pretty? It looked like a colour bleed! But it was funny alright
    Raaga, I've even attempted pizza with a kilo of flour just because the recipe said so and I didn't think to reduce it because I was too new!!! Brownies and souffles count, but mine weren't varied.

  13. Like the title...They are something new to me..Look like naan only...

  14. What are Taftans ? Tough Nans ? Have never heard about them. Looks good anyway and maybe it is supposed to be crispy :)

  15. With the Same ingredient's i have tried it on Pressure Cooker and called as Naan!

  16. I have always been worried about the results being tough and that's why i've been shying away from naans - sorry i'm no expert so can't really say why this didn't work... it doesn't look so bad though... but texture isn't something that's easily discernible from a picture. Don't worry, am sure the baker in you just needs a good recipe to spring back to your past glory :)

  17. Never heard of taftan hope it is a flat bread. Never ventured naan in my oven! For me it looks good!

  18. Could be many things, and I am guessing here: yeast that has aged too much to give enough lift; the oven, though set for 375 might have been too cool (at times they need calibration); or it could just be a bum recipe. It happens.

  19. Sorry it didn't turn out as well as you would have liked, but it looks good. ;-)


  20. Sra the same thing happened when I tried to bake them in my small OTG. But after the first batch I immeidately turned to the stove top and made the naan's on a hot tawa. I added little buter in the end and they turned to be fabulous. You know I served them with your paneer ravy which was a super hit :)

  21. Sra,
    taftans is new to me ,infact never heard about it ...I am little skeptical about using yeast,cuz it has always failed me:(..baking cookies etc ,it's good ,you should use your old oven more ..old is gold sometimes :)..
    hugs and smiles

  22. Taftan is new to me! Looks similar to naan! Love those Nigella seeds on top! Not bad as you think!

  23. Two things I can think of - Flour is old and the yeast might have been old, even tho you bought it fresh, who knows how long the shop had it.
    Nevertheless, they look great!

  24. The yeast might have been stale - did the dough rise the second time ? If not, then maybe thats the reason it wasn't soft inside. This has happened to me before - thats how I know!!

    Kalonji looks like it could have been adulterated...

  25. Lubna, thanks. Yeah, they look, but taste different.
    Sandeepa, God knows, we ate them anyway!
    Lavanya, :-)
    Laavanya, it wasn't bad, just disappointing.
    Cham, thanks, looks can be deceptive, of course!
    Susan, I checked the yeast date but I guess everything else or one of them could have been the reason
    Paz, yeah, everyone says they look good. :-)
    Ni, wow, really, thanks, glad it worked.
    Pavithra, thanks
    Jaya, I failed with yeast for months before someone told me the liquid needs to be just warm and not at all hot, after that it started working.
    Divya, that's sweet of you, thanks.
    Shankari, I checked the packing date, it was okay. Thanks.
    Miri, no, the dough didn't rise really, the second time. But the yeast was fresh? :(

  26. So this is what you meant when you said you were getting back to baking. :)
    Well, I'm happy to see you baking again. Maybe, your baking skills just need polishing up and like you said , this is not the best weather to bake in. :(
    I shall try these out once the monsoons are here.

  27. Ah! Taftan! U just brought back my childhood and memories of semi sweet taftans. As far as I know, all the taftans I have ever seen/tasted (back home in pakistan), even bought here in Canada, do NOT taste like a 'normal' naan (i.e. the kind served in an Indian restaurant e.g.). That being said, 'naan' is just bread, so I guess one could say this does taste like 'naan'. :-) but i'd say this tastes more like a 'sheermal' than a typical 'naan', And yes, taftaans tend to be crisper on the outside and chewy/doughy on the inside. Back home, Umm, most people would use the bread for dunking with milk, with cheese or some other non-spicy dish. I have never seen the Nigella seeds on these either... maybe one day I'd try using your recipe :)

    You might want to try the Iranian taftan (taftoon) recipe instead, its thinner than its Pakistani cousin, is perforated and a little less chewy /sweet. For a lot of people, goes better with spicier dishes.


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