Naan au Fromage

Upon my touchdown in Toulouse two years ago, within hours Gaylord was planning to make us naan au fromage. To give you some perspective, two years ago was a slightly tumultuous time, there was this little pandemic on, and lockdowns were declaring it was illegal to drive as far as your nearest airport. So, Gaylord and I had spent six months apart. Consequently, after getting over the delight to be back in my winsome company, Gaylord was ecstatic to have someone to make cheese naan for. And they say romance isn’t dead.

naan au fromage nigellaeatseverything

Cheese naan, or naan au fromage as it’s known as here, may not strike you as particularly French. Well, you would be right as it is not. However, while naan bread is of Indian origin, and of course, cheese naan is enjoyed in India and around the world, here its filling of those adorable foiled wedges of Laughing Cow cheese – or should I say La Vache Qui Rit – is the roguish wink of a Frenchie who is enthusiastically wrestling with a rolling pin to recreate their favourite Indian side dish.

This is no exaggeration – in France, naan au fromage is a national celebrity. There are take-away restaurants here that enthusiastically announce ‘Cheese Naan’ in font bigger than their restaurant’s own name. People will come for curry, yet crowds will come for the cheese naan.

If you use Uber Eats, you may have noticed that you can leave reviews of dishes, and the collection of five-star ratings under the chicken pasanda I was eyeing up from a local Indian take-away 100% influenced my dinner plans. Over in the naan section, however, the cheese naan has 689 five-star reviews – compare that to the measly displays of appreciation for garlic and peshwari (104 and 18 respectively).

As is the case in any country, the mixture of cultures shape the cuisine. Indian food here is different to what we’d eat in the UK, and of course, both are incomparable to dishes in India. France’s option of foie gras tandoori miiiiight be taking the cultural culinary interpretations a step too far, yet the cheese naan is here to stay.

naan au fromage

Considering that France is the country famous for its fromage, it seems fairly underwhelming at first to know these blistered and blackened naan breads are full of Laughing Cow cheese – a childhood favourite for all of us I don’t doubt! I remember the cardboard wheel with all the wedges nestled inside, and how satisfying it was to peel back the foil by pulling on the red tag to find creamy smooth cheese, effortless to spread on squares of white bread or maybe over ham which I’d then roll up for a salty snack.

And yet. Somewhere along the line, wherever the exact origins of this French version of cheese naan came from, someone clever discovered that Laughing Cow cheese held the perfect balance of creamy smooth, ready to melt into oozy gooey supplication, and seasoned with a satisfactory amount of salt to stuff a naan bread. You may think I’m joking but seriously, I really don’t advise you to substitute it for another cream cheese – we have in the past as our second home Lidl doesn’t sell those sacred wedges, and the alternative was utterly bland and claggy. Making cheese naan is a serious business.

How to make naan au fromage (aka cheese-stuffed naan)

Maybe I have flatbreads on the brain at the moment, so please excuse me because I’m being repetitive as this is the second recipe for them that I’ve shared in mere months. And, while both are reassuringly easy – anyone feeling daunted by the thought of making flatbreads can be rest assured that even a child can make them as they involve stirring and kneading and that’s about it – these cheese naans take the title of the easiest and quickest of the two.

I followed David Lebovitz’s recipe who was inspired, guided and advised on how to recreate Indian cuisine by his friend Beena Paradin, a food entrepreneur and Indian cookbook writer. David adapted her recipe slightly, no doubt insisting on the Laughing Cow cheese part because these triangles are sacred on the French food scene – yes, there’s baguette, pain au chocolat, buttery creamy heavenly dauphinois, and La Vache Qui Rit cheese triangles – you heard it here first folks.

So, to business – how to make these cheese naan?

The dough is airy soft, bringing to mind my childhood beanie babies. Made with flour, water, salt and yeast, the fantastic four when it comes to bread making, there is also yoghurt in there, as well as baking powder for a fluffy rise and extra clarified butter for richer depth of flavour.

naan au fromage

Now, each cheese naan requires two Laughing Cow triangles – excessive, I thought. Surely it will bulge out with next to no encouragement? In fact, not in the slightest, not even through this silky soft dough. The cheese is soft and pliable, much like that easy-going mate who always goes with the flow. Even when flattened, the cheese stays put. Then, when the heat gets involved, as the cook is short and sweet, the ooze is ready and waiting for you when you tear open the naan. We all need a friend like the Laughing Cow.

And so to reciprocate Gaylord’s act of giving when I arrived in France two years ago – his love language if you will – I in turn served him hot blackened naan breads stuffed with cheese, greasy with clarified butter, and he ripped his open to reveal the oozing melted core of creamy cheese, before taking a greedy mouthful. Cheese naans surpass flowers and chocolates every time.

naan au fromage

Naan au Fromage

An easy recipe for cheese stuffed naan – now I must insist you use Laughing Cow cheese! These cream cheese triangles have the best flavour and texture that melts perfectly as the naan cooks.
This is David Lebovitz's recipe which I haven't altered because it is so utterly perfect. I made 4 naans the first day then 2 the next, leaving the leftovers in the fridge overnight. In fact, after a rest in the fridge, these naans were the better with more flaky burned blisters, however, no one in their right mind is going to want to wait 24 hours for cheese naan! So go for it, but keep in mind the leftovers might be even better.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: cheese, dough, flour, naan, yeast
Servings: 6
Author: From David Lebovitz’s recipe

Ingredients

  • 160 ml lukewarm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 sachet dried yeast 7 g
  • 250 g flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 75 ml melted butter, clarified see notes for more details and make more for frying and brushing on the finished naans
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 12 wedges Laughing Cow cheese

Instructions

  • In either a bowl or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, fill the bowl with the lukewarm water, sugar, yeast and 110g flour and stir to combine. Set aside in a warm spot and leave for 30 minutes to become frothy.
  • Add the rest of the flour, baking powder, the yoghurt, 3 tbsp of the clarified butter and salt to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to create a dough. Tip it out onto the floured countertop and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth – the dough will be very soft and a bit wet so add more flour if it sticks to your hands. Put the dough back into a clean bowl and cover it with a tea towel. Leave to rest in a warm spot for another 30 minutes for it to rise.
    If using a stand mixer, knead the dough on medium speed for 5 minutes then follow the rest of the instructions.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the bowl and cut it into six equal pieces. Dust the countertop with flour and shape each piece into a disk around 10cm (4 in) in diameter.
  • Unwrap the cheese triangles and place two next to each other in the centre of each naan. Fold the four edges of the dough over the cheese, sealing the cheese safely inside. Turn the naan over so the seam is on the bottom then gently roll out each naan with a rolling pin until it is 15cm (6 in) in diameter.
  • Heat your skillet or frying pan over high heat. Once hot, brush with a little clarified butter. Place one naan in the pan and cover with a lid to cook for 1 minute until it puffs up. Flip over the naan – it will be speckled like a leopard. Repeat cooking on the other side. Slide the hot blistered naan onto a plate and quickly brush with some more clarified butter.
  • Repeat these steps with all the disks of dough then serve immediately.

Notes

Clarified butter is butter without the milk solids which burn at high temperatures. To make clarified butter, simply slowly melt the butter over low heat – the slower the better. Don’t let it bubble or simmer. This will blend the clarified butter and the butter’s milk solids which separate as the butter melts. Once it’s melted, gently pour the clarified butter into a jug or cup, taking care not to pour in the milk solids too.
 

12 responses to “Naan au Fromage”

  1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen Avatar

    Never heard of this dish, and I think it is hilarious that it uses Laughing Cow cheese!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      I know it’s just so adorable haha! Ah so if you went to an Indian restaurant, what side dishes would you have? Here obviously cheese naan is the reigning champion of sides, and in the UK naan is very popular too, so I’m very intrigued to know how Indian food is enjoyed in the US!

  2. Chef Mimi Avatar

    No. I consider myself a cheese connoisseur, having been raised on French cheeses. La Vache qui rit is disgusting. I can’t do it. What about raclette? It’s perfect for melting! A billion racletters know this! Great photos!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Oh if you’re a cheese connoisseur you must come and visit! My cheese consumption has gone up considerably in the last month haha – do you have a favourite French cheese? Oooh yes raclette is wonderful and so gooey, but I wonder if the French would consider that to be sacrilege to put inside a naan bread (they have very strange standards)

      1. Chef Mimi Avatar

        My favorite? If I was forced to choose? Époisses.

  3. Sheree Avatar

    I confess I’ve never seen cheese naan on the menu of any Indian restaurants on the Cote d’Azur.

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Oh how interesting! I had assumed it was widespread because it’s so big here and in Paris, and when I say big it’s in comparison to the very neutral feelings towards cheese naan in the UK! Speaking of French fast food, do you have French tacos in the Cote d’Azur?

      1. Sheree Avatar

        Sadly, I believe we do

  4. Thistles and Kiwis Avatar

    Love the way cheese triangles are used – don’t think Dairylea would work as well? 🙂

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Haha I know, it’s kind of adorable – oh yes I’m sure they’d work because they have more flavour than other cream cheeses, and they are also in the perfect shape too!

  5. Awakening Wonders Avatar

    This recipe and the images make me so very hungry! Thanks for sharing with me!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      You’re very welcome! What is it about carby greasy foods that cause intense cravings because I totally agree, I’m putting Laughing Cow cheese on my shopping list again this week!

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