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Saturday, January 31, 2009

mixing memories of momma with indian flatbread

My mother really loathes cooking. This is something I don't understand at all, because she likes eating. Now, you might think, wait a minute, everyone likes eating. Not so. Some people (people who are generally not my friends) eat just because they have to. I taught with a couple named Eric and Melissa that were like this. They were nice people, but they lived off of hot dogs. (Really--they told me once that their monthly grocery bill was $50! I spend more than that in a week.) The kicker is that they were really thin. Why? Because they just didn't care enough about what they were eating to stuff themselves with it.

Anyway, so I understand why people like Eric and Melissa don't get into cooking, but my mother? She loves good food, yet she sees the kitchen as a prison. Maybe it's a generational thing. Maybe because Drew doesn't expect me to have dinner on the table waiting for him every night, I can enjoy cooking.

Now, just to say that Momma doesn't like cooking doesn't mean that she can't make some things well. When my sister was asked by her preschool teacher what her favorite meal my mother made was, she proudly answered, "My Momma makes the best sandwiches!" And she did--she made all kinds of interesting sandwiches--cream cheese and jelly, for example. And this brings us to today's first recipe: egg salad.

My egg salad recipe is, of course, more complicated than my mother's, because I can't ever seem to make something simply. So I'll tell you how she made it, and how I changed it, and you can do it the way you want.

Egg Salad

6 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 piece of Laughing Cow garlic & herb cheese
1/2 teaspoon mustard
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
black olives
green onions, chopped

Put the eggs in small pan and cover them with cold water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Then, uncover and drain, and put the eggs in a bowl of cold water. When they're cool, peel them. Then chop them up fine. Momma has a special tool for this that I covet and hope she leaves me in her will.
While the eggs are cooling, you can make the mayonnaise sauce. Now, my mother just mixed the mayo and the mustard and the eggs and that was that--egg salad. I mixed the mayo and mustard and the lemon juice and the Laughing Cow cheese (in fact, I blended them all together with my immersion blender because I love that thing). Then I mixed that into the eggs and topped with black olives and green onions. I have to say, I like mine a little better, but it is more of a pain to make.

Now, what to eat the egg salad on? Wheat Thins, Triscuits, sandwich bread, pita bread: all good options. However, I had none of these. I didn't want to eat it by itself, so I had to make something. I needed a quick, easy bread, because I am not the baker of the family. I found the perfect solution--naan!
Naan is Indian flat bread. It's kind of like pita bread but moister and chewier. This recipe is so simple, and it was very good with egg salad, though definitely not what my mother would have served egg salad on. It made a lot, too, so I can bring some to Tott, who is gradually recovering from something akin to the plague.

Naan Bread
1 1/2 cups warm (not hot) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cumin powder
3 cups flour, plus some for kneading

Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes until foamy on top.
In a separate bowl, mix salt, spices, and flour together. Mix with a wooden spoon, then turn out onto a well-floured counter top. Knead dough into a tight ball. Put dough in a well oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Put the bowl in a warm place and let rise for about 30 minutes. It won't rise much, so don't worry. Divide up the dough into little balls and roll into circles about 1/8 of an inch thick. Grease a frying pan (I used olive oil, but you could use Pam--I wouldn't use butter because it might burn) and get the pan nice and hot. Put 1 or 2 naan in the pan at a time, and grill for about 2 minutes per side. The thinner you roll the naan, the puffier they get.


  1. I wasn't very involved in the naan, but I did supervise the naan cooking. I would omit the oil in the pan. The oil we used burned off fairly quickly and smokily, but we weren't really trying to fry the bread anyway. I think a dry nonstick pan would work fine. You could try it both ways and let us know. That's your homework.

  2. Oooo...I've never thought of putting the laughing cow cheese in egg salad...I bet that is delicious! I'd love to try Naan sometime. I'll have to check this one out.

  3. The Naan WAS delicious. And seems to have revived me from my near death experiance. Plus it is dog tested and TOTT approved. Can't beat that!

  4. helloooooooo...the world is FULL of people who hate to cook but love to eat...that's why God made RESTAURANTS!!!

  5. You should see how all the Indian ladies here in Mozambique can roll perfectly flat and round naan (called "apas" here - comes from the word they use in Goa) using this crazy countertop technique that involves no rolling pin, just perfectly trained, spiraling fingertips. It puts my lopsided tortillas to shame.

    Speaking of tortillas, they work perfectly with no oil on the pan or griddle - I'd imagine if you keep a watchful eye on the stovetop, naan would be just fine as well.

    Ali (Meghan's friend)

  6. Hi - glad to discover your blog through Taste & Create! I finally found what I wanted to make and it was delicious!! :-) thanks!

  7. Posted and submitted - thanks for an awesome recipe. I hope the rajma came out well!