Onion Naan and Herb Raita

I can’t lie and say this is an simple or fast dish to make. But! It is very very good and just what I was craving, since we don’t really have any Indian places around here that I know about and like like I do Standard India on Broadway back in Chicago. That place, man, they have the best buffet and the world’s most amazing mango lassi. I digress. Onion naan. I wanted it. So I made it.

onion naan and herb raita~the comyn space

Makes 10 naan

You’ll Need:
3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/4 oz packet dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for surface and hands
1 tsp kosher salt
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk yogurt (not Greek)
2 tbsp vegetable oil

onion naan and herb raita~the comyn space

You’ll:
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium low heat until it reaches 100 degrees. Remove from heat and whisk in the packet of dry active yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In the bottom of a stand mixer, whisk together flour and 1 tsp salt. Add in yeast mixture, onion, yogurt and vegetable oil. Mix with a dough hook until shaggy. Increase speed to 2 (or low) and knead until a smooth dough forms, adding more flour as necessary, about 5 minutes.

Spray a bowl with non stick spray and transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat in oil. Let raise for an hour in a draft-free place.

Punch down dough and divide into ten pieces. With well floured hands, roll each piece into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap (all ten on a cookie sheet works pretty good for this step). Let rest for 10 minutes.

Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Working one piece at a time, roll out into 1/8 inch thickness. Cook in dry dutch oven until lightly blistered, puffed and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Wrap in foil to keep warm until you’re ready to serve. Serve with herbed raita.

For the herbed raita, you’ll need:
1/2 small onion, very finely chopped
2 cups chopped cilantro
1 1/2 cups whole milk yogurt (also, not Greek)
2 tsbp chopped fresh mint
1/4 tsp cumin
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

Stir all the ingredients together and let chill in the fridge while you work on the naan.

Homemade Labneh

Once you have your homemade yogurt, turning it into soft cheese isn’t too terribly hard. Labneh is Arabic for ‘strained yogurt’ and it is literally that simple to make. The texture is the same a soft goat cheese and labneh has a similar tang to it.

homemade labneh, strained yogurt

It contains the same active cultures that yogurt does, making it super good for your tummy! I could see using it in place of goat cheese in recipes or baking it in spicy tomato sauce and spreading it hot on crusty bread.

We tend to make a batch from 1 quart of the yogurt we make and it doesn’t really last long enough for us to use it in anything. All you have to do is stir a teaspoon of salt per quart into your yogurt and pour into a towel as modern cheese cloth is much too loose. We use an old, clean rag with a pretty open weave. We suspend it over a bowl in the fridge for 24 hours and then dig in! You can use the whey (the ‘water’ that drains off) in baked goods in place of milk.

making labneh~strained yogurt

Homemade Yogurt

We’ve been making our own yogurt for months now. It all started out of my failed attempts to make mozzarella. You see, cheese requires patience and a steady hand and that, that I don’t have in the kitchen. However, my better half is REALLY good at stuff, luckily for me! He has taken this whole make-our-dairy at home thing really to heart and I get the fruits of his labor! Between this and my pickle making skills, we are set for the zombie apocalypse. Ha! Ha!

And why we bother. Yes it does take just over an hour but a gallon of milk about 3.50 here and those 20 oz containers of greek yogurt are between 5.50 and 6 bucks each. We can get three times that with one gallon-or a sixth of the price. Plus, the science pretty damn cool.

You’ll Need:
milk-it will yield the same volume of yogurt you put into it. Look for the freshest you can find and pasteurized should not affect this process. We’ve had issues with organic milk and use the regular old stuff.
starter culture-get the freshest yogurt you can find-Dannon is highly recommended but make sure it’s plain! We’ve used greek, which does contain additives.
jars or sanitize-able containers
a candy thermometer
making yogurt

1- Clean and sanitize everything that will touch the yogurt (except the pot you use to scald it). We boil our jars in a canner to ensure we kill all the bacteria. You want the milk to just grow yogurt-nothing else. M usually ‘cooks’ the jars while the milk is scalding for 10 minutes and then shuts it off and leaves the lid on to keep the temperature up.
sanitizing jars

2- Measure out the milk; it is one to one for milk to end product yogurt. We usually make 3/4 quarters of a gallon (save the rest for mac n cheese) resulting in 3 pints of yogurt for eating, 2 for cheese and 1 for the next batch of yogurt.

Scalding the milk means slowly heating it up to 185F or 85C. You want to go slow so you don’t boil it, killing flavor and making a huge mess. It is good to have a thick bottom pot for easier clean up. (Ask me how I know that.)
scalding milk

3- Once it reaches 185F, transfer it to a water bath while still in the pot. You want to cool it down to between 122F and 130F.

4- Inoculate it with your starter culture. Measure out 1 cup cooled scalded milk and 1 cup uncontaminated unflavored yogurt. Whisk it together and then slowly add to the rest of the scalded hot. The final temperature should be no higher than 122F, any higher and you’ll kill the culture.
homemade yogurt

5- Pour it in your final containers and fill it up to the neck, leaving a little bit of room. Cap them or screw on the lids. Pour a gallon-ish of water at 120F (we reuse what we sterilized the jars in because tap water is about 110F) and put it in cooler. Put the jars in the cooler with the water, ensuring it does not cover the top of the jars.
setting the yogurt

6- Let it sit! We let our sit in a warm warm spot (to keep the culture nice and happy) for 3 to 10 hours. The longer, the more ‘tangy’ and firm it will be. We usually do 8 hours and it gets nice and thick like greek yogurt. When they are done curing, don’t open them! Put them in the fridge to stop the bacteria from culturing. I know it’s hard to resist but who likes warm yogurt? Really?

Once its cold, we use it in just about everything! I sub this for mayo and sour cream in most (who am I kidding-all-I’m cheap!) recipes. Some of our favorites include quinoa burgers, crab rangoons and buffalo cauliflower.