Ethnic Eating in Rural America: Make Your Own Naan Bread

Lesson number one about trading urban living for rural Green Acres:  You give up that perpetual buffet of authentic ethnic food options.  While just about half the U.S. population lives in rural areas, most restaurant options reflect a bland line of fast food restaurants and heat-and-serve diners.

But when we moved to our Wisconsin farm over a decade ago from Chicago and opened our B&B, Inn Serendipity, this lack of international booty didn’t qualify as a deterring fork in our road toward sustainable living in the country.  We life gives you a lack of pad Thai, curry or sushi, you simply learn to make your own.

Here’s the good part:  many ethnic specialties root in relatively simple recipes and techniques.  Sometimes centuries old, these culinary traditions lasted both due to three factors:  good taste, use of available, local ingredients and ease of preparation.  A quick Internet search harvests multiple recipe options and information for just about whatever you want to cook up, transforming even our country kitchen on County Road P into an international dining mecca.

Case in point:  Naan, that Indian flatbread staple.  We needed to add a dash of flavor to the last of our rutabagas in the root cellar, so my husband John started sautéing them into an Indian-style curry.  Bread made a natural accompaniment, with no ethnic markets or Joe, the Trader to be found within an hour’s drive. 

No worries, naan appeared on the table thanks to a basic stock of pantry staples already at home.  While variations exist on naan, historically often made in a clay oven, I came up with this simplified version that cooks up the bread on a grill:


1 standard package active yeast (.25 ounces or 2 ¼ t. bulk yeast)
1 c. warm water
1 beaten egg
¼ c. sugar
3 T. milk
2 t. salt
4 ½ c. flour (approximately)
4 t. minced garlic (optional – adds great flavor)
¼ c. butter, melted

• In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let stand 10 minutes.
•  Stir in egg, sugar, milk, salt and flour to form soft dough.  Knead on a floured surface or with the dough hook on a Kitchenaide Mixer (my preference) until smooth, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
•  Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth.  Set aside to rise until doubled in volume, approximately 1 hour.
•  Punch dough down.  Knead in garlic. 
•  Pinch off small balls about the size of ping-pong balls.  Roll into ball-shapes and place on a tray.  Cover with a towel and let double in size, approximately 30 minutes.
•  Heat grill (approximately 375 degrees; I cooked these on our woodstove). Roll balls of dough into a thin circle and place on lightly oiled grill.  Cook for approximately 2 minutes and turn over.
•  Brush cooked side with butter and keep grilling until both sides are brown.

Photo credit: Lisa Kivirist

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6 thoughts on “Ethnic Eating in Rural America: Make Your Own Naan Bread”

  1. I’m sure you can use an egg substitute. One I use most often is:

    1 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    2 Tbsp. flour
    3 Tbsp. water

    Add together and whip until foamy.
    Equivilent to two whole eggs.

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