Vegan Naan Bread

Yep, you read that right. A vegan naan bread that is every bit as chewy, soft, and delicious as dairy-based naan bread! Not sure what naan bread is? Here's a great description.

I use a portion of Einkorn flour in my dough too. If you're not familiar with Einkhorn, it is considered by many to be the first variety of wheat grown by farmers more than 5,000 years ago. It contains more protein and less gluten than today's hybrydized wheat and offers a deeper, nuttier flavor. As such, some people with gluten sensitivities are able to digest it without difficulty, especially if the dough is allowed to ferment as in sourdough applications. If you can't find it in your local market, you can purchase it here.

Grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds all contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which bind some of their nutrients making them less available for absorption once consumed. Soaking them mitigates the effects of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, thus increasing the nutrient density of these foods. To paraphrase Jenny McCruther, cooking instructor specializing in real and traditional foods at Nourished Kitchen, soaking is a time-honored method of preparing native, unprocessed foods used for centuries as the traditional method of enhancing food density. Jenny points out the different methods of mitigating phytic acid and notes that each grain, legume and bean contain different levels of both phytic acid and phytase (the enzyme that neutralizes phytic acid). To optimally enhance nutrient availability, this would require different soaking times for each grain. I like Jenny's approach though, "I don’t believe that cooking ought to be scientific or painstakingly methodical and, instead, believe that simple methods should suffice in most kitchens and for most people."

You can read more about phytic acid and nutrient availability in this 2015 article published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology. To learn more about Jenny McCruther and traditional foods, check out Nourished Kitchen, and for more tips on baking with Einkhorn wheat, visit Einkhorn.com.

Now, let's get on with making these lovely flat breads, shall we!

Total Time: 2.5 hours Prep time: 15 minutes Rise/Rest Time: 2 hours 10 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes

Grilled vegan naan bread with almond cheese, our own organic peas, dill and cracked blabk pepper

For 6, 6-9" naan breads, you will need:

3/4 cup warm water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup Einkhorn flour

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic

1 Tbsp minced herbs (chives, cilantro, oregano, basil or rosemary are all good choices)

3 Tbsp nut milk (I use cashew)

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tsp more for oiling the bowl (Optional, see note below)*

* Note: I have since made these without added oil (in either the bowl or the dough). I ended up using a scant less flour. Do not be tempted to add more - dough should be soft and still just a bit sticky. When made without oil, they are best enjoyed the SAME DAY, or cool, wrap tightly and freeze until needed. A piece of parchment paper between each one makes it easy to defrost only the amount needed.

Process:

1. In a small bowl, add the warm water and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside for 10 minutes. It should begin to form small bubbles around the edges. After the 10 minutes, stir to fully dissolve the yeast.

2. In a medium bowl, bombine flours, salt, and baking soda. Stir to combine.

3. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the minced herbs and garlic, cashew milk, olive oil and yeast mixture. Using a fork, or your hands, combine the mixture until a ball forms. The dough will be sticky.

4. Use a sprinkling of extra flour to remove any dough from your hands and the sides of the bowl. Lightly flour a kneading surface, turn the dough out of the bowl and knead 3-4 times. Form the dough into a ball. The dough will be a bit shaggy (see photo below).

5. Oil the mixing bowl with the 2 tsp of olive oil, place the dough ball inside, cover and set in a warm place for 2 hours (I have left the dough for 24 hours and it performed just as well). After rising, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 4-5 minutes, or until it looks smoother and more elastic, as shown below. It will be soft and still just a bit sticky. Don't be tempted to keep adding more flour.

6. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Using the cupped palm of your hand against the friction of the kneading board, work the dough pieces into smooth balls. Cover the balls and let rest for 10 minutes.

7. Heat a cast iron grill or skillet on med/high to high heat. Using a rolling pin, roll out each dough ball to approximately 6-8" and 1/4" thick. Use a tiny bit of flour on your board and rolling pin if the dough starts to stick... not too much though or your dough will just slide around the board (if this happens, just flip it over and roll on the other side instead). A spatula or dough scraper works well if one end or edge sticks just a bit. This is a highly forgiving dough - you won't mess it up!

8. Cook each piece 2-3 minutes on each side. Use tongs or a spatula to flip. Adjust the heat if necessary. The level of heat and/or duration of cooking time can be used to regulate the degree of grill marks.

The naan breads below have light grill marks.

This one has deeper grill marks because it was left on the grill slightly longer.

These below, were cooked on the highest setting. All three color variations are equally delicious, but the darker the grill marks, the smokier the flavor.

If not using right away, allow the naan bread to cool and store in an airtight container. They will remain fresh for 2-3 days. These are delicious served with hummus, baba ghanoush, marinated tofu, plant-based cheese (Almond Spreadable Cheese recipe) dal, curries, or anything else you dream up. Enjoy!

Nutrition information for one naan bread:

When you make this, let me know how it turned out. Be sure to take a photo and tag me #chefcatherinebrown. I love seeing what you make!

Disclosures: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products that I trust and use.

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CatherineeBrown@hotmail.com  603-237-1012  PO Box 253 Errol, NH 03579