First up, the naan. I've been making bread and bagels on a weekly basis for the past few months, so the idea of kneading dough and letting it rise and all that jazz doesn't intimidate me nearly as much as it used to. I feel like I've gotten pretty good at using a recipe's description to get the right texture/look of the dough. Not this time. I suspect that the naan dough was not as it should be, but I can't really say, because the book abandoned me, in terms of what the dough should look like when it's ready. The reason I think there's a problem was that one step is to roll the dough into balls. In my experience, you need a dough with some structure to do this. This was a sticky, wet mess, impossible to roll. I added flour and made it work, but I'm not 100% sure it's right.
The instructions say to heat up a heavy pan super-hot, and then throw the flattened dough on, flipping it now and then, until the bottom is "speckled and deep golden brown in spots." Ummm. Yeah. These things burned SO fast. My pan is a mess.
This bread is in the right spirit as naan. It doesn't taste like what you get in a restaurant, though. There was something harsh about the flavor, which I think is due to the burned bits. As Matt said, "When it's cooked in a kiln, the burned bits taste good. When it's cooked in our pan, it just tastes burned." Oh well, it was a good first effort, and certainly better than the pre-made naan that we made the mistake of buying in the supermarket once. Shudder.
Conclusion: Just okay. It needs some work.
Now, on to the main event. The hardest part about the saag paneer was that you make your own cheese. WHAT??? It wasn't really that hard. I just felt very unsure of myself the whole time. All you do is boil milk and salt, then add vinegar until it curdles. Pour it into cheesecloth and let it drain in a colander for a bit. Twist the ends of the cheesecloth to release as much moisture as possible, then put the packet in between two plates and balance a dutch oven on it. Whaaaaaaaaaaat? You know how hard it is to balance a dutch oven on a rickety structure? Mine and Matt's combined skills couldn't make it work, so I ditched the oval dutch oven and used a bag of flour instead. After a half hour under pressure, it's cheese! It tasted like a solid, dry ricotta.
|I have named my cheese Sebastian.|
If I served this with rice instead of the naan, (and if our damn AC didn't stop working mid-preparation) the whole production would have been much less stressful. Not the best Indian food I've ever had, but I'm proud of myself.
Conclusion: Liked it. It needs a bit more something, spice-wise, but I'm not sure what.
Oh, and my landlord magically wrangled an HVAC repairman to come out at 8 pm on a Sunday night. Huzzah!