We’ve discovered how to make the best toasted bread, the kind that you make on an Aga but without having to invest in one. Our method transforms bruschetta and makes that artisan loaf go further as you can toast it when it’s stale.
Griddled toast is the best toast: those charred crisp edges and a soft golden middle make a bruschetta or beans on toast or just a simple tomato sandwich into something really special.
We hate toasting bread under the grill because it’s hard to keep an eye on – you want the edges charred but not burnt – and it’s awkward manipulating your body to observe how the bread is toasting under the grill through a partially-open oven door. And who wants to take out a heavy griddle pan to toast just a few slices? By the time you’ve heated it the desire for a piece of good toast has gone off you.
We’ve discovered a much easier and more successful way to make toasted bread.
A tawa is a flat griddle made from aluminium or cast-iron (though they also come in non-stick) with a handle. It is used to toast flatbreads and Indian breads, to cook roti and naan from scratch and you can even make Welsh griddle cakes on it. It has excellent heat conduction and its flat surface means that all parts of the dough or bread come in contact with the heat. It’s perfect for cooking and re-heating Indian breads (including last night’s cold naan from the Indian takeaway), for puffing up shop-bought wraps and tortillas as well as making a decent piece of toast so you’ll definitely get the use out of it. It’s not an expensive purchase and it lasts years.
WHERE TO BUY A TAWA OR TAVA
We bought our tawa in a middle-eastern shop where they are often cheaper so if you can find one it’s best to source one there. You can also buy a non-stick version but they don’t really work as well as you can’t heat a non-stick pan to high or it gives off fumes. And you need to turn the heat to high to get that charring that adds so much flavour to toast. There’s also no difference between a non-stick tawa and a non-stick pan. It needs to be made of a heavy metal to give you exceptional heat conduction.
HOW TO CLEAN A TAWA OR TAVA
The good news is that you don’t need to oil a tawa or tava before you cook if you are just using it for bread so you only need to scrape any residue from the pan with a non-stick spatula after use.
It’s basically a piece of cast-iron with a handle that you sit on top of the toast when it’s on the tava or tawa and it keeps the bread in contact with the heat. It speeds up toasting and gives you an even colour. We use it for all kinds of things: as a weight to press down paté, to keep a steak in contact with a hot pan so that it sears evenly; when we are cooking a few burgers and want them to pick up griddle marks from the pan and when we are cooking lamb chops that are starting to curl, we sit it squarely in the middle of the pan on top of the chops and it stops them buckling further.
There is no need to oil the press when you are using it for toast but you need to do it when you are cooking meat or it will stick to it. Clean your steak or burger press immediately after using it and make sure it’s completely dry before storing it so it doesn’t get rusty. (You can use it as a door stop at a push too.)
Food photography © foodpixies.com
Watch Alpa using her tawa griddle on YouTube to make authentic naan from scratch at home without a tandoor oven: How to Make Garlic Naan with No Tandoor, No Oven and No Yeast.