Ann has been treating asthmatics in Kenya, caring for orphans in India, curing the sick in Cambodia.
I've been driving carpool, sorting socks and applauding the school musical, "Oliver!" Ann nurtures real orphans. I watch pretend orphans sing. I figured the least I could do was cook something distant and deserving.
We order the Indian flatbread regularly, reveling in its buttery exterior, its chewy interior and its curry-scooping convenience. Producing credible naan at home, however, was fresh terrain.
I stirred and kneaded bread dough, bolstered, in the naan tradition, with yogurt. I let it rise and rolled it thin. Then I baked it. That's when the adventure set in.
I tried tossing the disks of dough onto a hot baking stone, which yielded a pizza/pita/puff, but not naan. I tried the stove top skillet, yielding sog. I Skyped Ann. "Well," she sighed, "it's hard without a tandoor oven."
Apparently the traditionalist bakes naan by kindling a fire in the center of a vast vessel, then throwing the dough against its clay walls. The naan sticks, then crisps.
I wandered my kitchen, looking for a means to sandwich dough between hot and hotter. The waffle iron seemed an ingenious solution. But wasn't.
Then I tried the laptop. Following electronic advice, I baked my bread on top of a griddle, under the broiler. The double sizzle — above and below — gave my naan its signature blisters and crisp/chewy charm. Isn't world travel a wonder?
Naan (Indian flat bread)
Prep: 20 minutes
Wait: 90 minutes
Bake: 2 minutes
½ cup warm milk
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 pinch sugar
½ cup plain yogurt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Home on the Range