Naan – A recipe and guide

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. We probably won’t ever buy that type of pre-packed naan again, a simple chapati serves as a good substitute in such cases.

However, since there aren’t a lot of Indian restaurants around here we decided to give naan making a try ourselves. After having succeeded in making a good pita bread not too long before we decided we’re ready.

What is naan?

Naan is another type of flatbread, probably most similar to the Greek pita bread, although its ingredients are slightly different again. Naan origins from India and it 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.

baking naan on a tawa with butter chicken

The tandoor

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

Naan - A recipe and guide
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Cook time: 
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Serves: 6 naan
 
Ingredients
  • 120g flour
  • 120g whole wheat flour (the sieved version, atta, which is a softer, finer flour)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¾ tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 25g ghee
  • 150 ml water
  • extra ghee to spread on naan
Instructions
  1. Mix the ingredients of the naan dough and knead until it has become a smooth soft dough.
  2. Leave to rise for at least an hour (when at a warm spot, shorter is ok).
  3. Split the dough into 6 balls and roll them out one by one while baking the previous one.
  4. Pre-heat a flat griddle on the stove (or use an oven with a pizza stone).
  5. Cook the naan on the flat tawa/griddle. Turn it around when the top starts to dry out and keep on turning until the center has cooked (you ight notice the naan puffing up slightly).
  6. Cover with a thin layer of ghee and keep in between towels until consumption.

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.

baking naan in the oven

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