I'll make no claims to authenticity with this recipe. It's really more like an Indian-style calzone than the stuffed naan I've ordered in restaurants. But once those potatoes go all creamy in their spiced sauce and the flatbread bakes into a perfect toasty pocket on the grill, I'm pretty sure all those distinctions become moot.
This meal was actually the result of a failure to find a recipe that I'm convinced is still hiding in one of my cookbooks or the back of a file cabinet. I made it once, and love it, and tried to find it again when this recent craving for stuffed flatbread hit me. With no recipe to be found, I decided to just forge my own using a modified version of chana masala and a double batch of my favorite pita bread.
The pita bread is a good sturdy dough to use for this recipe. Roll the dough to maybe a fourth-inch thick or else the curry inside will start to poke through and you'll have a mess on the grill. Make sure the edges are firmly sealed and poke a few holes before baking them to allow steam to escape.
If you don't have a grill or just prefer something else, these can also be baked in the oven. Just increase the cooking time to about 15 minutes and no need to flip them during baking.
Flatbread Stuffed with Curried Potatoes, Spinach, & Chickpeas
The curry is adapted from Orangette's Chana Masala
For the Flatbread:
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
For the Curry:
1 onion, diced small
1 pound red potatoes (4-5 egg sized potatoes), diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or grated on a microplane
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 to 3 teaspoons salt
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10 ounces baby spinach
Prepare the Flatbread Dough:
In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in 4 1/2 cups of the flour along with the salt to form a shaggy dough. Turn this dough out onto a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until a smooth, tacky ball of dough is formed. If the dough is very sticky, add a little flour at a time to keep it from sticking.
Clean your bowl and film it with a little olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover, and let the dough rise for about 2 hours. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days. (The dough is actually easier to work with when cool. No need to warm before shaping the flatbreads.)
Prepare the Curry:
Warm a tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions with a half teaspoon of salt until they begin to brown. If they pick up some charred edges, even better. Add the potatoes with another pinch of salt and continue cooking until the potatoes are almost cooked through but still hard in the very middle. Clear a little space in the middle of the pan and add the spices with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, and then stir the spices into the onions and potatoes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring the curry to a simmer. Stir occasionally. Cook until the potatoes are completely soft and the sauce has reduced and thickened. Stir in the chickpeas, then stir in the spinach in two batches. Taste and add more salt or other seasonings as desired. If the curry looks soupy, let it simmer until thickened.
Remove from heat. Curry can be made up to three days in advance.
Assemble and Bake Flatbreads
Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and turn the dough out on top. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a circle roughly 7-8 inches in diameter and 1/4" thick. Place a few spoonfuls of curry on the lower half of the dough, smoothing it into a single layer with a half-inch border around the edge. Fold the top of the flatbread over and pinch the edges closed.
Transfer the flatbread to a baking sheet and repeat until all the dough as been used. Leave the prepared flatbreads uncovered so the top dries out a little.
Prepare the grill while the flatbreads rest and let it preheat for at least 20 minutes. The grill is ready when you can hold your hand a few inches above the grill for two seconds. Lower the heat to medium and brush the surface of the grill with oil.
Use a fork or paring knife to poke holes in the top of the flatbreads and transfer them to the grill, spacing the breads a few inches a part. You may need to bake in two or more batches. Replace the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown and show grill marks. Flip and bake for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating.
Baked flatbreads will keep refrigerated for several days and are best eaten cold or reheated in a warm oven. (Microwaving is also fine, but tends to make the dough tough.)
Alternate Instructions for Oven-Baking:
Prepare the flatbreads as described and arrange them a few inches apart on a baking sheet. Pre-heat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit. Just before baking, poke holes in the tops of the breads and brush them with olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown (do not flip). Allow to cool slightly and serve.
(Images: Emma Christensen)