Recipe: Yogurt Cheese and Naan

This is one of my favorite foods, especially in hot weather. You might be familiar with yogurt cheese as the Lebanese dish labneh, and the naan could easily pass for a Greek pita.

Yogurt cheese is just yogurt with the whey drained out. I put a funnel in a pint glass, line it with a coffee filter, and fill the funnel with yogurt (plain, unflavored—I buy Strauss’ whole milk yogurt in a big tub). Then I leave the contraption in the fridge for at least a few hours. The longer it drains, the thicker the result. When it’s ready, save the whey for the naan.

I used to think flatbreads were tricky, but here’s my method now: use a solid rolling pin, and a cast iron frying pan. The rolling pin is easier to handle than a tortilla press, and the cast iron pan ensures that the bread cooks evenly and quickly.

Making Naan

Naan recipe courtesy of my brother Peter, who helped out after I lost the bookmark for the one I’d been using.

Mix together:
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 scant tbsp. yeast

Let the yeast proof about five minutes.

Then add:
2 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup whey or buttermilk *
1 tsp salt

*To make this dairy-free, use water with a teaspoon of vinegar. The acid weakens the gluten bonds, which improves the texture and makes it easier to roll out.

Knead together until smooth, then let proof for about an hour, or until doubled.

Once it’s risen, squish the dough back into a ball. Cut it into 8 pieces. Heat the frying pan on medium, and grease with a little butter.

Flour your work surface and the rolling pin. Roll each piece of dough out flat, and fry until browned on both sides. I usually can tell it’s time to flip the bread because air pockets are forming on top. And that’s it. The whole thing goes pretty fast, and then you have a stack of naan, ready to eat.

Naan

The yogurt cheese and naan make a pretty good snack or meal on their own, but you could add olives, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, either on the side or rolled into a sandwich. Everything will store in the fridge for a few days, if needed. Reheat the naan in the frying pan, or wrapped in foil in the oven.

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