This recipe is from David Lebowitz’s cook book My Paris Kitchen. This past year for birthdays we did not go out to eat. Rather, my husband and I each requested the other person to make a full three meals of our choosing. I requested Indian egg omelet, kuttu (buckwheat flour) pakoras with chai, and sambar idlis with coconut chutney. My husband requested sabudana kichdi, crab cakes, and these cheese naans with matar paneer. I made the cheese naans once about a year before and we both loved them. In fact, we loved them so much we ate way too much of them and then didn’t want them again for a while. They were forgotten and then remembered for Rajat’s birthday. They really a pretty good.
The first time I made this, I mixed chopped green chilies, chopped cilantro, and green onion with the cheese. Maybe some spices too. I can’t remember exactly. Point being that you could mix spices or vegetables in with the cheese to stuff inside this bread or keep it just cheese. Since we were eating this with a curry, we did just cheese.
- 2/3 cup warm water
- pinch of sugar
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 3/4 tsp aluminum free baking powder
- 2 tbsp plain yogurt, ideally whole milk
- 5 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 12 wedges plain (original) laughing cow cheese (if for some reason you can’t find this, I think another soft, tangy cheese like goat’s cheese would work fine)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine water, sugar, yeast, and 3/4 cup of the flour. Let stand 30 mins and allow the mixture to become frothy.
- Add the remaining 1 cup of flour along with the baking powder, yogurt, 3 tbsp of the ghee, and the salt. Knead on medium speed for 5 mins. The dough will be soft, but if it sticks to your fingers when you touch it, add another tbsp or two of flour. I had to had 2 or 3 tbsp extra. (You can also make the dough by hand, kneading it on a lightly floured surface for 5 mins). Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 30 mins.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Sprinkle each piece with some flour and knead each piece on a floured surface individually until it no longer sticks to your hands.
- Working one at a time, roll dough each piece of dough into a 4-inch disk. Starting with one round of dough, place two unwrapped wedges of cheese side by side in the center. Fold over the four rounded edges, pressing them down to completely envelope and enclose the cheese so that the naan is square. Don’t worry if the seams are not completely sealed since you will roll it out still.
- Turn the naan over, seam side down, and roll it out with a rolling pin on the floured surface until it’s about 6 inches square. Or circle. Or whatever shape you end up with. As you roll, think about getting the filling evenly distributed throughout the naan by adjusting your rolling pin pressure as you go. This takes practice. My husband is expert at this. I am just okay at it. You can roll all of the naans at once and set them aside, or you can roll one while you cook one.
- Heat a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. If your skillet is not well seasoned, brush a thin layer of ghee on the bottom of your skillet. Lay one naan on the hot surface and cover with a lid. Cook for about one minute until it puffs up unevenly and the underside is browned. Flip the naan and replace the lid, continuing to cook until the other side is browned, about 1 minute. If you don’t use the lid, it’s fine.
- Remove the naan onto a plate. Brush the naan with some ghee. Repeat the same process with the other naans and serve.
**Variation, add freshly chopped garlic to the ghee and brush that on the naan at the end.