Naan Bread is a versatile form of flat bread that has its roots in India and the Middle East. It is also super easy to make in a wood fired oven! This recipe for Lavender and Fennel Pollen Naan Bread is a gourmet adaptation of the basic recipe and brought to us by Chef Ryan Kirby of Wisconsin. Chef Kirby has a passion for making dishes with local, fresh ingredients. You can find more of his fabulous creations on Instagram at @ryankirby84.
A couple of the unique seasonings in this bread are fennel pollen and lavender.
Fennel pollen is hand collected from wild fennel which grows predominately in Italy, and now in California. Fennel pollen is a powerfully condensed spice with flavors of licorice, citrus, and sweetness. Its flavor is different from anise or fennel seeds, though complementary, and generally a pinch goes a long way! You can find it at many spice shops, or online at places like Spiceology or Pollen Ranch.
Culinary Lavender also has a strong flavor, so pairing it with another assertive flavor like the fennel pollen or lemon juice/zest helps give it balance. Dried lavender can be found year round and used a couple of ways. One way is to soak it in a few drops of full fat milk for half an hour. This hydrates the lavender, and the fat facilitates the essential oil distribution in your naan bread. It can also be used as an infusion, grinding it or straining it out of the liquid before using. Again, use sparingly so the bread doesn’t taste like soap 🙂
This bread makes a wonderful appetizer for your guests to enjoy all by itself, or it can be paired with cheeses, fruit, or a mild dipping element for variety. It is also beautiful side accent to Mediterranean-style chicken, lamb, or other main courses.