Naan is a delicious flatbread served mostly in North Indian restaurants, with curries like butter chicken. It is soft, chewy and slightly tangy, and pretty much irresistible when served warm, brushed with melted butter.
It is traditionally made in a tandoor – a clay oven that gets scorchingly hot. I make mine non-traditionally, in a very hot cast iron skillet, but I find them completely credible and perfectly mouthwatering. The dough contains egg and yogurt, which gives the bread the chewy texture and tang respectively.
It is a yeasted bread, so it does require a teeny bit of forethought, as it needs about 2 hours to rise. I make my naan dough, and most other doughs, in my breadmaker on the dough setting – it warms the ingredients, combines everything, kneads the dough, allows it to rise at the perfect temperature. It produces perfect dough every time. Otherwise, you can use a food processor, or just do it by hand!
This recipe is from Mark Bittman’s cookbook, The Best Recipes in the World. He calls for the naan to be cooked on a preheated baking stone (or baking sheet) on the lowest shelf of the oven at 500 degrees for 3 minutes on the first side and 6-8 minutes on the second side. I did this with my first few, and they were burnt, hugely puffed, and crunchy. Not what I was going for. I reduced the time to 3 minutes per side, and they were okay, but not great. However, when I switched to a cast iron pan, they were perfect! If you don’t have a cast iron pan, don’t substitute – you can’t get a nonstick pan to the temperature you need. Use the oven method, but keep a close watch, and start with less time – maybe 2 minutes per side.
These were the best of the ones made in the oven.
Ten large naan is far too many for just Adarsh and I, so rather than cook them all at once, I froze the rolled out dough in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. I then wrapped the stack of frozen naan in aluminum foil and removed two at a time to cook as needed. They thaw in just a few minutes, and I have even cooked them while still partially frozen with great results. Naan anytime, in just a couple minutes! What a happy discovery!
This is one made in the cast iron pan. Better.
Naan, a Soft, Chewy Indian Flatbread
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp yogurt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus more for rolling out dough
- 1 tbsp instant dry yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp butter, melted, for brushing on warm naan
Bread Machine Method
1. Measure all wet ingredients (water, milk, yogurt, egg) into the container (bread pan) of the bread machine. Add the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt on top. The purpose of adding ingredients in this order is to avoid having the yeast touch the wet ingredients at this point. Set the machine on the “dough cycle” and press start. It takes two hours from this point.
Food Processor Method
1. Stir together the yeast, milk, yogurt and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
2. Combine the flour, egg and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add the yeast mixture through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, adding 1 1/2 cups water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to touch. If dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds.
3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.
1. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut into 10 equal sized balls, using as much flour as necessary to prevent dough from sticking to your hands. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
2. Preheat a dry cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Using flour as necessary, roll out each ball into an oval about 6 to 8 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide. Cook the naan one at a time in the very hot pan, about one minute on each side, until golden, slightly mottled, and puffed in spots. Brush with melted butter and wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm.