Food in Ramadan takes on a special significance and iftar is the meal in which those who have fasted from sunrise to sunset eat again – the breaking of the fast at sunset. Traditionally the fast was broken with dates and water followed by a full meal. In Mauritius, it is customary to have samoosasbhajias or any other gato deluil along with alouda once evening prayers are over.

Another food item that is much sought after at the time of iftar is the naan. I am not refereing here to the Indian, oven-baked flatbread but to a special braided yeast bread that is found on every dinner table throughout the month of Ramadan. Store bought or homemade, naan can be either plain or stuffed with cheese, chicken or vegetables. The urge to make naan from scratch came to me when I stumbled upon the recipe provided by local chefs -Feizal Chaumoo, Massafeer Zulfekar Ali et Rajak Naugeer from the Bake Master-Quaderi Sunni Circle, Phoenix- in the cuisine section of Le Week-End newspaper.

The instructions were relatively simple and the ingredients well within the range of my pantry so I did not have to struggle much except with the temperature and humidity; they were definitely not helping today. Since I was home alone, I did not feeling like baking lots of bread to watch it go stale in my bread bin so I quartered the given recipe to yield a couple of smaller naans. Maybe I should have stuck to the original proportions as I got reproachful looks from everyone who had to fight over the single remaining naan when they got back. Or maybe I’ll be baking them kheema buns next..

NAAN MAURICIEN

Ingredients:

250 g all purpose flour

2 tbs butter, cubed

1/2 packet instant yeast

1 tbs vegetable oil

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1 tbs granulated sugar

1/2 tsp table salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

2 tbs milk, for glazing

Method:

  • Sift flour into a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, salt, yeast and cumin separately to flour and make a well in the centre.

  • Gradually add water to dry ingredients and mix until all the water is absorbed by the resulting dough.

  • Next add butter and mix vigourously. Add oil and knead until fats are well incorporated into the dough.

  • Continue kneading until dough is firm and elastic and stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. Add extra flour if needed.

  • Dust work surface lightly with flour and turn out dough. Knead by hand for at least 10 minutes.

  • Return dough to bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to proof for at least 1 hour or till doubled in volume.

  • After proofing, divide dough into 100g portions. Flatten slightly and shape into spirals. Dust lightly with flour.

  • Place spirals on a greased baking sheet 3-4 cm apart and allow for a second proofing for about 20 minutes.

  • Brush on milk glaze and bake at 200 oC for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack and serve for iftar.
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