Durban Naan Bread is a soft, baked flat bread-lightly spiced with fennel seeds then topped with poppy seeds. This uniquely Durban treat should not be confused with the other flat bread with a similar name-the Naan bread often served in East Indian restaurants. The Durban Naan bread is much like Turkish flat bread only richer in texture and flavour and especially aroma. Amma was fond of making buns and homemade bread when my sisters and I were little- Naan Bread on the other hand was a treat we enjoyed when we later relocated to Durban. My sister S was sometimes up early on a Sunday morning to get fresh naan bread from one of the best bakeries in Durban-don’t recall its name just remember it was in Springfield-(if you know the name please do let me know). I recall the smell of the Naan bread being most intoxicating-thanks to the fennel seeds.

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The Naan Bread Recipe is a simple one-simply separate the wet and dry ingredients. The rich soft texture is as a result of the milk powder, sour milk and eggs-all of which result in a super soft bread that is best eaten by pulling apart rather than cutting with a knife.

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  • 8 cups strong flour
  • 2 x 7g sachets instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup powdered milk
  • 125g melted butter 
  • 250ml sour milk or plain yogurt
  • 1½ cups lukewarm water
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt (less half a teaspoon)
  • 2 tbs fennel seeds (soumph)
  • Poppy seeds 
  • quarter cup milk for brushing

1. Sift the flour, salt and sugar. Add fennel seeds and powdered milk.
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2. In a separate bowl mix the, melted butter, eggs, sour milk and water until a uniform mixture is formed. Make a well in the flour then add the yeast. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour then mix until soft dough is formed.
3. Knead the dough for at least 20 minutes. This will help the yeast bind with the flour and give the Naan its soft texture.Do not cut the dough knead the dough by folding or punching.
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4. Cover and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes. One of the best ways to detect if the dough is rising is to make a cut in the dough. After 45 minutes you should notice the position of the cut has changed-or disappeared.
5. Knock dough the dough by punching lightly until it is flat again.Break into smaller pieces then shape into desired shapes. Naan bread is usually shaped round. Simply make a ball then flatten slightly. Cover and leave aside for 30 minutes.
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6. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cover the Naan with foil to avoid it browning before it is thoroughly cooked. After 20 minutes in the oven - brush the Naan breads with milk then sprinkle with poppy Seeds. Bake for another 15-20  minutes until the Naan breads turn brown. Brush again with milk this will help achieve the flaky texture. The bread should rise then fall back leaving a soft top layer that can be peeled.

The Durban Naan bread compliments hot curry or can be enjoyed plain-with butter or cheese…and don’t forget that cup of tea.

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