Khameerey/Fermented Naan

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Khameera/Khameeri naan (Khameerey when pluralised), is possibly my favourite form of bread. It's thick, puffy and sour and is an amazing carrier of flavour when paired with items such as Ambal or khattey meethey rajma, two things we've covered off in our other posts.


The word khameer, when translated means yeast, so I think therein lies the giveaway of what the main ingredient is. Indian naans or rotis are usually made without yeast, and this probably has to be one of the few rare ones throughout the country to use yeast, and that's what sets it apart. The process is also dead simple, and really if you've ever made any kind of dough before, it shouldn't come across as surprising. The recipe I'm about to share will yield around 10-12 khameerey.


 

Ingredients

  • Plain white flour/aata, no surprises here - around 750g

  • Yeast/khameer, again no surprises here - 4g (or around half a standard packet)

  • Salt - 1 tbsp

  • Coriander/Dhaniya seeds - 1 tbsp. Coarsely ground.

  • Warm water - approx 500 ml - but it's tricky because it depends on the quality of flour. You may need a bit less (I did). In terms of temperature, it should be warm/borderline hot, but nothing you can't handle. Do not exceed 130 Fahrenheit/55 degrees celsius as that will kill the yeast. A temperature around 110 F/ 43 degrees celsius should be good.

  • Sunflower oil - for deep frying. You can use as much oil as necessary for deep frying.


The process

  1. We start off the process by activating the yeast. Take the yeast and add it to 250 ml of warm water. Stir well for around a minute or so. The water should turn pale.

  2. Now, in a bowl of your choice which you'd normally use for mixing and kneading doughs, add in the flour.

  3. Pour in half the amount of yeasty water and mix well

  4. Now, add the salt and coriander seeds and again mix well

  5. As you're mixing things together, add in the remaining water. Continue mixing

  6. This is where you need to use your best judgement - add in the additional water while you're mixing things together. The amount of water should be sufficient to keep the dough formation moist, but not excessive. Keep on mixing until all the flour starts taking the form of a dough that is stiff and tight.

  7. Once it becomes a dough, you need to knead this for at least 10 minutes, the texture akin to that of a puri dough. For those unfamiliar - we're after a smooth texture but not silky. If you press it with the tip of your finger, it should bounce back slowly and not stick to your finger.

  8. We now need to allow the dough some time to set. With the sweltering Jammu summer heat, the dough can be used in around 4 hours, but if you're in a somewhat cooler part of the world or making these during cooler months of the year, let the dough rest for around 8 to 12 hours. My grandma would prepare the dough at night, wrap it up nice and warm and it would be ready for consumption the next day.

Making the Bread

  1. Now that the dough is set, we can start our forming process. As I mentioned above, this recipe is good for around 10-12 khameerey. So, I suggest you start separating your dough into 10-12 equal parts now.

  2. When making a khameera, it's important to note that we must not use a rolling pin. This has to be rolled with our hands. We want the carbon dioxide that the yeast is releasing to be trapped inside the dough so that when we expose it to heat, it puffs up. If you use a rolling pin and flatten it out, you'll lose that puffiness. It's also how it's traditionally done, shaped and formed in the hands and then chucked into oil for frying.

  3. For shaping the dough, using your palms and fingers, gently stretch it out in a circle until you get a circle with an approximately 3.5"(9 cms) diameter. It's very much like how one would shape a pizza dough, with the exception of the usage of a rolling pin.

  4. Get some sunflower oil in your fryer and heat up the oil until it's at a high enough temperature.

  5. Insert your formed khameera dough into the oil, and deep fry it as you would. Make sure to get it nice and brown on both sides.

  6. Once it's reached the colour and texture as shown in the image above, take it out of the fryer and pat it down with a paper towel, to remove the excess oil.

And we're done. If you ever give it a go, I'd love to know your thoughts.


See you in the next one :)



Update


From the comments section, I've learnt something which I felt was quite interesting and worth including in the blog post. It's a bit of history around how a khameera was fried back in the day. This comment has been taken verbatim.


Traditionally, desi ghee ( clarified butter ) or mustard oil is used for frying khameeray. Now, it is replaced by convenient options of refined oils such as sunflower oil. Reason being, refined oils can stand higher temperatures and they don't start burning like desi ghee. Mustard oil has a pungent aroma and if not heated properly at right temperature, it will retain its pungency and that could be distasteful.
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