Known as nan-piar, these fine tender flatbreads are closely related to Indian naan and are made in markets in many parts of Burma. Usually they’re baked in a tandoor oven (for which a baking stone in a regular oven is a good substitute). The breads are slightly sweet and leavened with both yeast and a little baking soda.
Make the dough about 2 hours before you want to bake the breads. Or make it the night before, and shape and bake the breads in the morning. The breads bake in a couple of minutes. Serve for breakfast or as a snack anytime, spread with almond butter or topped with slices of firm cheese (and see Sweet Flatbread Breakfast, below). This is a large recipe that yields about 2½ pounds of dough. You can bake half the dough one day and then save the rest for the next day.
Put the water in a large bowl, sprinkle on the yeast, and stir. Add
Sprinkle on the sugar, add the egg, and stir in thoroughly. Add
Combine the batter, sugar, and egg in the processor and process briefly to blend. Add
Set the dough aside in a tightly covered bowl, and let rest for 1½ to 2 hours; you can also let it rest overnight in a cool place if you wish.
Twenty minutes before you wish to bake, place a rack in the center of your oven, lay a baking stone, pizza stone, or a surface of unglazed quarry tiles, and
Meanwhile, dust your work surface with flour, turn out the dough, and cut it in half. Set half aside covered in plastic wrap (if you won’t be using it until the next day, refrigerate until 1 hour before you wish to bake). Cut the remaining dough in half, and then in half again. Cut each quarter into 3 equal pieces—you will have 12 pieces altogether. Roll each piece firmly between your lightly floured palms to make a smooth ball, then flatten each to a 2-inch disk on the floured surface. Set aside, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for about 15 minutes.
Working with one disk at a time on the lightly floured surface, press first one side and then the other into the flour, then roll out to a round
Transfer one bread onto a baker’s peel lightly dusted with flour or the floured back of a baking sheet and use the peel or sheet to transfer the bread onto the hot baking stone or quarry tiles. Repeat with the other bread.
Serve as a snack or to accompany any meal: the breads are thin and seductive, so allow 3 per person.
At my favorite tea shop in Rangoon, the breads are pale yellow and sweet. The baker’s secret ingredient is ripe banana. To try this, substitute 1½ cups water mixed with ½ cup pureed very ripe banana for the water in the recipe, then proceed as above.
Spread nan-piar with lightly mashed tender cooked chickpeas or cowpeas (see Peas for Many Occasions), sprinkle on a little sugar if you wish, and roll up. Cut into 2-inch pieces and eat with pleasure, to accompany tea or coffee. This combo of bread and cooked peas, with or without sugar, is known as nan-piar bei-leh.
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