26 October 2012

Komoch Naan

Komoch naan is a Kyrgyz and Kazakh bread.  I rarely saw it in Bishkek and Tokmok since tandyr naan is typical there, but if you get into rural areas of Kyrgyzstan like Naryn or Kochkor, this is much more common.  It makes a slightly larger loaf than they usually make in Kyrgyzstan, but it works pretty well.  It makes one domed loaf and there are several ways to bake it.  It's traditionally cooked in a clay pot, although it isn't always anymore.  This is based on several recipes I picked up in Kyrgyzstan and on one from Beyond the Great Wall.

1.5 cups warm water or milk or sour milk
1 tsp yeast
1/2 c yogurt (optional, especially if you used sour milk- increase the milk by 1/4 cup if you leave out the yogurt)
2 tsp salt
4-5 cups flour (I use whole wheat, but all-purpose or bread flour is good too, or a mix.  All-purpose is typically used in Kyrgyzstan.)


Make a soft, well-kneaded dough with the above and let it rise for a couple hours till it's doubled. 

I've tried four different cooking methods for this.  My favorite is in a camp dutch oven over a fire, but that's not exactly practical most of the time even though it's more similar cooking in a clay pot.  I've also tried it in the crockpot but it didn't work really well, although it did produce the right texture for the bread.

The two easiest methods produce fairly different loaves depending on what you want.  You can shape the dough into a ball and drop it into a cast iron skillet lined with parchment paper.  I just have a 12-inch skillet so I use that, although a smaller skillet would be good too.  Let the dough rest for a few minutes then press it out toward the edges of the skillet.  Cover with a lid or a bowl or plastic and let it rise for about an hour- it shouldn't quite double.  Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or till it's golden brown.  Keep an eye on it the first time you make it because bread and ovens vary so much, at least in my world.  Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before slicing.  This produces a drier loaf that is good and, I think, more commonly used now in Kyrgyzstan.

It's also really good baked in a covered pot.  Use an oven-proof straight-sided 9-inch (or so) pot and line the bottom with parchment.  Shape the dough into a ball and drop it in, then press it towards the edges as above.  Cover with the lid of the pot and let rise for about an hour.  Leave the lid on and bake at 375 for about 30-40 minutes.  At that point, check the bread to see how it's coming.  It might be ready then, or you can put the lid back on to finish baking, or you can leave the lid off while it finishes to help the top get crispier.  After it comes out you can brush with butter and the top will soften again.

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