Flatbread is something that has been forgotten in British cooking. The Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis do it, the Greeks and Turks do it, the Spanish and their Latin American friends do it and even the Swedish do it. But we just don’t. In fact not only don’t we do it, we don’t know anything about it. I have read several articles over the years that say Pita bread is unleavened – which it aint! We must have had flatbread at some point, since a simple, hearth-cooked flat bread is probably one of the earliest breads, but it fell out of our culture.
A good, leavened flatbread, soft, bouncy, warm and tear-able, is a feast not to be missed, and using it as a wrap for cold meats, or for wiping up a chilli is, to say the least, a delight. It is pretty easy too (especially if you have a big mixer) and does not need an oven. This is my variation for a stovetop cooked flatbread and sits somewhere between Mediterranean ideas and a Naan.
This makes quite a wet dough and for that reason it is possibly easier in a Kenwood Chef, but I used to make this by hand by keeping my hands well floured.
Crumble the fresh yeast into the warm water and put aside for a few minutes.
Put the flour in a large bowl or in your mixer bowl. In the Kenwood, you can just add the rest of the ingredients and then turn it on to “1” for about ten minutes.
Without a mixer, make a well in the flour and pour in the yeast/water. Add the other ingredients then stir them all together with a big spoon.
Once well mixed, flour your hands and get stuck in. Knead in the bowl for a good ten minutes. If you don't have a very big bowl, you can do this on a CLEAN counter top – but you get to clear up!
Once everything is mixed and kneaded, cover with a cloth and leave for 2 hours or more and go and do something useful like make a chilli, or marinate some chicken for kebabs.
Once the dough is really risen and fluffed up, knock it back and knead it for another five minutes or more. Depending on how wet it is, which depends on your flour, you may need to add a little more flour – but remember, this is meant to be a bit on the sticky side! When kneading, I really like to make sure all the air is knocked out of it.
Turn out your dough onto a well-floured counter. Cut into eight equal pieces. They should be soft little pillows dusted with flour. Don't doze off on them. Leave them for about 10 minutes to think about their life.
Put a heavy duty frying pan on your stove and get it really hot – no oil!
Roll out your pieces into rough circles – don't try and get them perfect; these are much nicer when rough and uneven thickness. They should be around half a centimetre thick.
As you roll out one, put it in your pan. They take only a few minutes to cook, depending on your pan and the heat. Once it starts bubbling up, that is normally your cue to flip them over. You are looking to get something soft and just cooked, not hard, brown and crispy – the wrong recipe for that, especially with yoghurt in there.
Roll out the next one ready.
As each is cooked take it out of the pan and wrap it in a clean tea towel.
And that is that, really. They do take a bit of practice to get perfect, but if you make sure the dough has been really well kneaded and you don't overcook them, they should be fine.
Eat them hot. If you want to keep them, leave them wrapped up until cool and then put them in a plastic bag. You can heat them up in a pan or even a microwave – which will make them softer!
By the way, if you want to experiment, next time you do a firepit in the garden, heat up a big stone next to the fire and cook them on that. Now you are really showing your historical credentials, and it is a lot of fun too!
There you go – flatbread that will go with anything. Irish stew, Lancashire Hotpot, Chicken Kebab or some nice cold ham with salad and feta cheese.