I love carbs of all kinds, but Indian naan has to be one of my favorites. Last year my mom and I went on a naan baking binge, trying to find the right recipe and technique. There is quite a lot of variation. Some call for yeast, others just use plain yogurt. Some are baked, some cooked in a pan on the stove. My mom and I had lots of good bread, but nothing quite like the naan served in Indian restaurants.
Finally I found something that compared. This is a yeast recipe, and though naan is meant to be baked in a high-heat tandoor oven, I prefer to make it on the stovetop because it’s easier to flip. Ghee is a clarified butter that you can get from some markets or make yourself by simmering butter until all the water evaporates and you can separate the fat from the milk solids. I used simple melted butter, and that was just fine.
Original recipe from The Second Pancake
- 3/4 cup of warm milk
- 1.7g (1/2 tsp) rapid-rise yeast
- 2 g (1/2 tsp) sugar
- 230 g (1 3/4 cups) strong/baker’s/bread/high-protein flour
- 2 g (1/2 tsp) salt
- 2 tbsp of ghee (or melted butter) optional for serving
Stir the yeast and sugar into the warm milk, and let it stand for 5 minutes. In a large bowl combine the flour and salt with the milk mixture, then when it comes together turn the dough out onto a floured bench and knead for 5-10 minutes until shiny and elastic. (Ten minutes is a long time, but slacking on the kneading might have been a pitfall of some previous naan attempts.)
Let the dough sit in a warm place, covered, for 40 minutes or until risen.
Here’s where the recipe says put a cast iron pan or baking stone in your oven and preheat for at least 30 minutes at its highest temperature. Instead, I decided to use the stove.
Knead the dough quickly to degas then separate it into 6 pieces. Roll each piece out 12-inch oblong shapes. I guess you could do circles, but I think of naan as my little brother used to say, in “Scream mask shapes.” Dust with flour, and place on top of each other.
The recipe says cover and rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. This is probably a good step, but I’ve never had the patience for another round of resting. At this point, I cook them one by one on a hot skillet. Cast-iron would work particularly well because of the high heat. Cook about 1-2 minutes on each side, depending on how hot you get the pan and how crispy you like your flatbread.
Or you can lay the uncooked breads on a heated pan/baking stone (no need for oil) in the oven, and cook for the same amount of time.
Either way, they get puffy and delicious, and are great with garlic and ghee or butter rubbed all over. But what isn’t?