Not too long ago we bought a bag of pre-packed naan, boy were we sorry we did. The naan was tough and slightly dry, by far not the light (but oily) naan we’ve eaten in good Indian restaurants. Since there aren’t a lot of Indian restaurants around here and since we didn’t want to buy any supermarket naan anymore it was time to make our own naan!
What is naan?
Naan is type of flatbread, probably most similar to the Greek pita bread, although its ingredients are slightly different again. Naan origins from India and its surrounding countries. Because of the use of yeast and kneading processes (see recipe below) it was long regarded as a more exclusive bread compared to other flatbreads such as chapati. Naan is commonly served in restaurants with curries and is generally used instead of cutlery to eat the curry with (jum!).
Traditionally naan is baked in a tandoor. A tandoor is an Indian style oven. It consists of a pit with clay walls. Inside this pit a fire is lit which will increase the temperature inside the oven. Once the oven is nice and hot the fire is reduced to smoking coals. Instead of then baking on the floor of the oven (as was more usual in Europe) breads such as naan will then be baked on the wals of the oven. Meats are also baked in the oven by placing the skewers inside or lying them on top of the oven.
Fortunately naan can also be made without a tandoor. I’ve seen recipes using an oven to bake them (using a pizza stone), however, I just make them on the stove using a flat griddle and they still taste good. Main difference is that the temperature at which they are baked isn’t as high. However, it can still be light and airy if you turn up the stove well.
A naan recipe
Recipe 1 - Simple in flavour (our favorite)
- 120g flour
- 120g whole wheat flour (the sieved version, atta, which is a softer, finer flour)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 25g ghee
- 150 ml water
- extra ghee to spread on naan
Recipe 2 - Richer version
- 300g flour (regular or sieved whole meal)
- 1/8 tsp salt (more if you like your bread salty)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp yeast
- 1 egg
- 120g milk
- 90g yoghurt
- extra ghee to spread on naan
- Both recipes can be made in the same way.
- Mix the ingredients of the naan dough and knead until it has become a smooth soft dough.
- Leave to rise for at least an hour (when at a warm spot, you might need less time, the dough doesn't have to double in size).
- Split the dough into 6-8 balls (depending on the size of your pan, the second recipe will also make 1-2 extra naan).
- Pre-heat a flat frying pan or griddle on the stove (you could also use an oven, personally, we find the naan in the oven doesn't become as nice and golden brown).
- Roll out a ball of dough until it's about 5 mm thick (or a little thinner). Cook the naan on the flat hot surface, the surface may be quite hot.
- Turn it around when the top starts to dry out and when you see bubbles forming. Keep on cooking until both sides have a nice light brown colour or dark brown spots (you might notice the naan puffing up slightly).
- Cover with a thin layer of ghee and keep in between towels until it's time to eat.
- Continue with the other balls until all are finished, each naan will probably take about 5 minutes, but it strongly varies on the heat you're using and the thickness of your dough.
Naan can also be made in the oven as I’ve tried before. In the photo below you see the naan lying on a pizza stone in a nice and hot oven (approx. 240C). It puffed up beautifully.