I am finally here with the recipe for Naan. There are not many who are not familiar with these teardrop-shaped flat breads, soft pillowy cushions with rippled surface, and smothered with butter. They are utterly delicious!
Over the past few months, I have been getting so many requests and seeing searches for Naan in my blog, I am almost embarrassed to have taken so long to come up with the post.
As in all cuisines, bread is an integral part of Indian cuisine. Naan, is a leavened oven baked flat bread, usually made in the northern regions of India, although it is known to be served in most Indian restaurants in the country and all over the world. Naan complements a main dish, but if you are like me, you can also eat it plain, indulgently patted over with ghee or butter.
Naan may be made in different flavors; garlic, spices, herbs or whatever you can think of. They can also be stuffed with vegetable or meat. Once you get the hang of making a basic Naan, you can try out all the possibilities out there. There are numerous ways to enjoy them. Naan wraps/rolls, Naan pizza and Naan-wich have become quite popular in the contemporary fusion cuisine. Make some and find your own way to love them!
This is a more traditional recipe of Naan with yeast. There are some versions using baking powder, but I have not tried that yet. The reason I had not posted the recipe for so long, is a valid one and I hope I will be forgiven by the ones who have walked away disappointed from this place. I wanted to share a recipe which I myself was satisfied with. So all these months I had been trying to perfect my skills. I had to work on a few bread making issues – the right texture of the Naan, inside and out, the traditional yeast bread feel and taste but without the obvious and (annoying to some) smell of yeast. And lastly since I do not own a Tandoor, the process needed to be perfected on the stove top or the oven getting it closest to the traditional taste. I have to admit that I use the stove top more than the oven. Personally I love the smoky aroma of the lightly spot charred Naan, which is obtained from roasting the bread directly on the fire. But the oven method works too, and might suit many.
Please do not be intimidated by the long process. Once you read through it, you will see that it is quite simple. I have explained each step in details and have the skillet method, fire roasted kind and also cooked completely on the skillet and also the oven method.
Few Notes about Naan:
Since Naan is traditionally cooked in the Tandoor – a clay oven with extremely high temperature, Naan made at home usually do not have the authentic texture and look. But we will do our best here.
The texture of the Naan should be lightly flaky crisp on the outside, almost brittle that the crust will break with the tiny pressure of the finger, but the bread itself will be soft, fluffy with nice flaky air pockets inside. It is delicate and slightly chewy at the same time. The Naan should no way get tough, brown and stiff like the edges of a pizza crust. Biting into this bread should be a pleasure, not be a jaw breaking, palate scraping experience.
The cooking time is very important; it has to be well done, but overcooking it in the skillet or the oven will stiffen it making it crusty, which is not desirable. The timing will slightly vary from one oven to another, and also the thickness of the bread, flour etc. The perfection will come with practice.
Ingredients: (makes 8 Naan)
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 5 tablespoons oil or ghee
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup or 10-12 heapful tablespoons of plain unflavored yogurt
- few more tablespoons of water if needed
- ghee or melted butter to brush on the naan
- spices (like nigella, cumin, sesame) or herbs, dried or fresh (optional)
Dissolve the sugar in warm water (about 105 degree F). Add the dry yeast to the warm water and stir till the yeast is dissolved. Cover and leave aside for 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to froth and rise. This indicates the yeast is active. Set aside.
Sift flour, salt and baking soda. Add yogurt, 5 tablespoon oil/ghee, and activated yeast to the flour.
Use your fingers to mix all ingredients together till you can pull them into a soft dough. If you think you need more water, add a couple of tablespoons more, just enough to make a soft but NOT a sticky dough. Flour a flat surface like a large cutting board or kitchen counter and knead the dough till it is smooth and stretchy, for about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, brush the surface of the dough with some oil, cover with a towel and set it aside in a warm place for it to rise for about 2-4 hours; it will doubles in volume.
Punch the dough down, knead again for about 4 minutes, divide the dough into 8 parts (I usually slice it in triangles) and let it rise for another 30 – 45 minutes.
(I do not like rolling all of them at one time; if I am cooking the Naan on a skillet, which I usually do. I do them one at a time; as one goes on the skillet and cooks, I roll the next one)
Take one divided portion, dust it with flour and roll it out to a tear drop shape, (about 6-8 inches long ) in a floured surface. Do not roll back and forth. Stretch the dough outward as you roll from the center. (If you have divided the dough into spheres, roll one of them between your palms to even out the ball and roll them out into elongated shapes.)
Sprinkle the top of the Naan with spices or herbs or both, if you wish. gently press down with the rolling pin to make them stick to the dough.
Brush the other side of the Naan with water.
Tawa Naan / Skillet Method:
Heat a thick bottom skillet, preferably a good cast iron skillet/tawa, (or any kind of heavy bottom pan if you do not have an iron skillet). The skillet should be really hot.
Place the Naan wet side down on the skillet and cover the skillet/pan with a lid. Reduce the heat a tiny bit and allow it to cook for 30-45 seconds. The underside will golden to light brown and the Naan will be easily released from the pan. You will see big bubbles on the surface of the Naan.
Reduce the heat to medium, uncover and cook for another 30 seconds.
(Roll another Naan and get it ready, while this one is cooking)
Remove the skillet from the cook the other side of the Naan over direct flame of the gas burner (bubble side facing the fire) with tongs. The Naan usually puffs up, and some spots will get charred (which imparts the lovely smoky flavor). Remove from heat and brush it generously with melted butter or ghee.
(If you do not have gas stove, and is cooking on electric, you can cook the Naan on the skillet without fire roasting it. Once the bubbles form on the surface, flip it over on the skillet/pan, increase the heat to high and slowly press down on the Naan with the spatula at different spots. The Naan will start puffing up as it cooks. Remove from the skillet when the Naan is golden brown, unevenly, and with spots at some places)
I should mention here that the Naan baked on the pre heated pizza stone at very high temperature, comes closest to the Naan made in the tandoor. If you do not have a pizza stone, pre heat your baking tray in the oven while the oven is heating.
Try to adjust the oven temperature between 400 – 450 degree F. The cooking time will also be needed to be adjusted as each oven works differently. Look for the color and how it puffs.
Pre heat oven to 425 degree F. Place as many Naan as the stone/tray can hold with the wet side down. Cook the Naan for about 2 minutes; the top will be light golden and the Naan might start to puff. Flip the Naans over, cook for 2 minutes. If you want it lightly charred, set the oven to broil and cook till the top starts getting charred spots, for about 30 seconds to a minute.
Remove Naan(s) from the oven and brush generously with ghee or melted butter.
Stack them, and keep them covered in aluminium foil and wrap the package with a kitchen towel to keep them warm.
Serve hot with meals. They are great to scoop and mop off curies and food with sauce. (Here is a list of curries you can use to have the Naan with).
Or serve with grilled meat and vegetables. We love to have Naan with Hummus or any similar condiment. Go ahead, use your creativity to use the Naan in many unique ways!
To store the Naans, wrap them in foil and refrigerate them. Reheat in the oven wrapped in foil.
The Naan is Yeastspotted!