Second to Naan

India has a staggeringly impressive street food scene and no matter where you go, you cannot help but stumble upon street food vendors and hawkers. The dizzying array of choices presented, will render you into a quandary, not knowing what to plump for. From different types of chaats to vada pav, to frankies, to the Bombay sandwich, to samosas, to ragda patties, to various types of kebabs and fish tikkas, to dosas, the list is endless. The sizzling options are overwhelming and available by the bucketload.

With the world having woken up to the blossoming street food industry, the punter now enjoys food that is fresh, fast and contemporary, with flavours that definitely pack a punch. There's a vibrant energy around any street food stall, a feeling of exhilaration and anticipation. Those emotions are almost certainly reflected at home whenever I tell my family that it's street food Sunday. The announcement usually elicits whoops of joy! 

Over the years I can undoubtedly say that I have mastered the art of making somewhat healthier street food by combining fresh, high quality ingredients to create dynamic, zesty dishes, bursting with flavour. Naan sliders are so often part of the ultimate weekend feast and I can't make them fast enough in my house, evidently a seal of approval! There are several stages to this recipe, but it is definitely worth the effort, all made easier with having everything 'mise en place!' Homemade naan topped with chargrilled marinated paneer or chicken, pickled red onions, coriander chutney and spicy yogurt certainly hits the spot. Slam dunk!

Chicken or Paneer Naan Sliders

Serves 6 : Makes 12 small sized Naans

Ingredients

For the Naan Bread:

  • 300g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Fast Action Dried Yeast
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 160 ml Warm Water
  • 25g Melted Butter
  • 1 tbsp Milk
  • Butter for brushing the cooked Naans
  • Nigella (Kalonji) Seeds (optional)

For the Tandoori Paste

  • 4 Tablespoons of Greek Yogurt
  • Juice of half a Lemon
  • Juice of half a Lime
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 3cm piece of Ginger
  • 1 Green Chilli
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1.5 tsp Paprika
  • 0.5 tsp Tandoori Masala

For the Yogurt Sauce

For the Pickled Onions

  • 1 Red Onion, finely sliced
  • 0.5 tsp Salt
  • 0.5 tsp Sumac
  • Juice of half a Lemon
  • 1 tbsp of Coriander (finely chopped)

Additional Ingredients

  • 320g Chicken Mini Fillets
  • 450g Paneer (cut into thick slices)
  • 250g Baby Spinach Leaves
  • Sunflower Oil

Method

  • Mix all the tandoori paste ingredients together and then divide the paste into two bowls, one for the chicken and one for the paneer. Mix well and marinate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  • Prepare the dough for the naans. Mix together the fast action dried yeast, with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the warm water. Leave this for 10 minutes.
  • Mix the flour and the salt. I use a food processor with the dough hook, but you can do this by hand.
  • After 10 minutes add the yeast mixture, the melted butter, milk and warm water and mix into the flour until all the ingredients are incorporated and you've formed a sticky dough. If you're doing this by hand, knead for 5 minutes.
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rest in a warm place, and allow to prove for 60-90 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Whilst the dough is proving, prepare the onions. Mix all the ingredients together, in a bowl; the onions, salt, sumac, lemon juice and coriander. Refrigerate until required.
  • In a separate bowl mix the yogurt and the green chutney (in the recipe section) together and refrigerate.
  • Once the naan dough has doubled in size knock the air out and divide the dough into 12 balls.
  • Heat a frying pan on a moderate to high heat. Roll each ball out on your board to the size of a small plate. The dough is quite elastic so you can shape it if you wish. You may need to use some dry flour to prevent sticking.
  • Cook each naan on the frying pan until cooked and slightly charred on both sides. Brush with butter and sprinkle on nigella (kalonji) seeds. Keep the naans warm in a low oven.
  • Put 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil into a griddle or frying pan. Cook the paneer until browned on each side and keep aside. Repeat in a separate pan with the chicken. Its better to do this in batches.
  • Place the naans onto a platter and drizzle some of the yogurt sauce, then top with spinach leaves, add cooked, sliced chicken onto half of the naans and pieces of cooked paneer onto the other half of the naans.
  • Top randomly with the pickled red onions. A few more drizzles of the yogurt sauce and then serve.

Tips

  • Since I don't have a traditional tandoor oven, the closest I can get to the original naan is cooking it on a hot frying pan. However, if you are cooking for a crowd, double the recipe and you can always cook several naans together under a hot grill. Just keep a close eye on them, otherwise they burn easily.
  • This recipe is ideal for a summer barbecue, eating al fresco. The naans can be cooked on the barbecue, as can the chicken and paneer. Put all the ingredients out and let everyone make their own. There's plenty for everyone, including the paneer for the vegetarians
  • We can't always make everything from scratch, and if you're short of time you can always use shop bought naans as a substitute. I do urge you to make your own when you can, you will not be sorry!
  • As always the recipe is open to personal interpretation. If you haven't made the green chutney (which is in my recipe section), improvise! Substitute it with grated cucumber enhanced with some salt and chilli and use this raita as your sauce. Alternatively, if you prefer, add a little mango chutney into the plain yogurt. Play around with flavours and have fun.