Indian Essentials: Homemade Paneer and Naan Bread (Sourdough & Regular)

I absolutely love Indian food. There’s something about the magical combination of spices and textures that I simply cannot get enough of. As a vegetarian, Indian cuisine provides endless inspiration for meat-free meals that are never lacking in flavor or creativity!

If you’re interested in making impressive Indian fare at home, I recommend adding the following easy recipes to your ethnic arsenal. Homemade paneer cheese is a surprisingly simple addition to your from-scratch Indian feast. It takes just 3 ingredients and about 30 minutes of your time! My basic naan bread – sourdough or regular version – is another delicious accompaniment to your authentic Indian meal.

indianessentials

Ingredients are all organic, when available.

Sourdough (SD) Naan Bread:

  • 1/2 cup (94 g) active starter (fed and doubled)*
  • 1 3/4 cups (240 g) all purpose flour**
  • 1 tsp (4 g) coconut sugar***
  • 1 tsp (6 g) sea salt
  • 2 tbs (28 g) olive oil
  • 2.5 tbs (36 g) yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1/2 cup (118 g) filtered water

Regular (non-SD) Naan Bread:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour**
  • 1 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar***
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • pinch baking soda
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2.5 tbs yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 3/4 cup filtered water

*My starter is kept at 100% hydration. You may need to add more/less liquid depending on how yours is hydrated.

**Flour choice is up to you. I have made this naan with spelt, whole wheat, einkorn, ect. It turns out best when you have at least some portion of all purpose along with your whole grain of choice. Try different varieties and see which you like best! Keep in mind that using whole and ancient grains may require adding a bit more water to your dough. πŸ™‚

***I prefer to use coconut sugar in this recipe, but any sugar will do.

naanstack

Instructions for SD version:

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix to create a shaggy dough. Allow to rise 2-4 hours (until puffy), using the stretch and fold method every 30 minutes or so. The dough should be slightly wet and sticky. If you have a stiff dough, add more water.

The rising time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen and how vigorous your starter is. Once the dough is puffy and full of air bubbles, cover and place in fridge to ferment overnight or up to 48 hours. Remove from fridge and allow to reach room temperature prior to use. Dough should be close to doubled in size.

Instructions for non-SD version:

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix to create a shaggy dough. Knead on a floured surface to until the dough is soft and pliable. The dough will be a little sticky but resist the urge to add extra flour (that will result in tough naan). Allow to rest 30-45 minutes, until doubled.

naandoughprogression

For both versions:

Cut dough into 6-8 equal sized pieces. Roll dough flat, as thick or thin as desired. (I prefer mine thin, so I can roll it up or use pieces to pick up yummy paneer/gravy.) Naan does not need to be perfectly circular like tortillas or rotis. Most traditional naan comes in oblong, asymmetrical shapes making this flatbread super simple to make!

naanrolledout

Cook on a preheated skillet or grill pan for a couple minutes on either side. The naan will puff up, so be extremely careful when handling – those air pockets are dangerous! Place cooked naan on a cooling rack, or in a warm oven, while you cook up the rest!

naanbreadcooking

Quick & Easy Paneer Cheese:

  • 1 quart whole milk*
  • 1 tbs fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch salt
  • Candy thermometer (optional, but if you have one – very helpful)
  • Cheesecloth lined strainer

*The milk you choose is important. Get the best quality you can find/afford. I would prefer to use raw whole milk, but I don’t currently have access to it. Whatever you choose, try to find a milk that isn’t pasteurized using ultra-high temperature (UHT ) as this milk won’t curdle properly. I’ve had great success with Promised Land Dairy as far as grocery store milk goes.

paneercooking1

Instructions:

Pour milk into a saucepan and bring to a slight boil over medium heat. Milk doesn’t boil the same as water, so you’ll know it’s boiling when it’s very frothy. This can take about 10-15 minutes. If you have a thermometer, it should read about 180 degrees F. Stir intermittently while it’s cooking to avoid scorching the milk on the bottom of the pan.

Add the lemon juice, remove from heat, and cover. Allow the milk to sit with the acid about 10 minutes for best results. You should immediately start seeing the curds separate from the whey. After 10 minutes, pour the mixture into a cheesecloth lined strainer (if you plan to keep the whey, put the strainer inside a larger bowl to catch the liquid). Let sit for a few minutes to drain. Add the salt and mix well.

paneercurdswheystraining

Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, pick up the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much liquid as you can (again reserving the whey if you so choose). Twist the ends of the cheesecloth and place the cheese on a rimmed plate. Top with more plates, or a single plate with a weight on top, and press the cheese for several minutes. How long you press is really up to you. It will be ready to eat after about 5 minutes, but you could also press longer for a more solid cheese. I’ve moved the plate-press to the fridge before and allowed it to chill up to an hour with great success.

paneerpressingstraining

After your cheese has reached the desired texture, remove from the cheesecloth and cut into cubes. You can either saute the paneer in a little butter or oil (recommended only if you have a more solid cheese), or add the cubes directly to your gravy.

paneerandnaandinner

Serve with your delicious, pillowy naan bread and enjoy! πŸ™‚

I hope these Indian essentials elevate your next authentic feast! Also, if you end up with leftover naan, it makes excellent naan pizza!

naanpizza

That’s right.. More pizza. πŸ˜‰

Until next time.. Happy baking/making/eating!

~Samantha Sunshine

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