I used to have to head to my favorite Indian restaurant for naan. Then it came to the supermarket. Now it’s in my very own home. Naan is a leavened flatbread that is baked in a clay tandoor oven. No tandoor here, so we’ll be baking this naan recipe in my conventional oven instead.
The first time I decided to make naan I was a bit intimidated. Perhaps is was that the naan I’d been eating had always been served next to a bowl of my favorite masala at Chapati in Northfield. Alas, I no longer have friends going to Carleton or St. Olaf, and driving down there for a bowl of masala with four kids just doesn’t seem practical. Yes, I could probably find a favorite place closer to home, but why mess with that when I can just recreate it in my own kitchen?
And so the naan journey began. I tried a few recipes and watched a few more videos to see the technique and the process. I eventually decided on a recipe I liked more than others. I changed up a few things and off I went down the naan path, which was surprisingly easy and a lot like making pizza dough.
Here are a few tips for a successful naan experience:
- Don’t flip the dough when you’re rolling it out. One dip in flour and then roll. Too much flour does not equal success.
- Preheat the oven 30 minutes before rolling out the dough so the stone is nice and hot.
- In between baking naan, allow the oven to reheat for 3-4 minutes so that the stone is again nice and hot.
Start by sprinkling yeast over warm water and letting it sit.
While the yeast is hanging out, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. I used an unbleached all-purpose wheat blend here.
Add in the oil and the yogurt.
Using your hand (I suppose a food processor would also work well for this), mix until crumbly. Stir the yeast and water and then pour into the flour. Mix until a dough forms.
Knead the ball of dough until it is smooth. It doesn’t have to be perfect, though. Place in the bowl, cover and let it rise for 3-4 hours.
Once the dough has risen, it’s time to bake. Knead it slightly to form a ball again. At this point you can wrap the dough and store in the fridge for a day until you’re ready to bake, or you could wrap half if you wanted to bake it two days in a row.
To bake, you want to preheat the oven with a baking stone. I just used my round pizza stone, but you can also use a large rectangle, making sure you have an inch clearance around all sides of the stone to the oven wall. The preheated stone mimics the traditional cylindrical tandoor oven. It’s not perfect, but it works well, and the naan bakes fast once it is nice and hot.
Separate your dough ball into 4-5 dough balls. Dip these into flour.
Roll the flour-dipped balls out into ovals. Dip your hands in water and then pick each circle up with wet hands, lightly wetting each side of the dough before laying it on the preheated stone. Bake for 4 minutes or until dough is turning golden brown on top.
After baking, naan can be brushed with clarified butter. I tend to only brush the naan that I’m serving and eating immediately, as leftover naan saves better without the butter.
Naan is great for dipping into Indian curries and sopping up puddles of spicy sauces, but it’s also ideal for making pizzas with the leftovers or using for panini-style sandwiches, so bake a few batches at once and store in an airtight container after they’ve completely cooled.
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 pinch baking powder
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons plain Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup extra flour for rolling
2 tablespoons clarified butter
In a small bowl, add water and sprinkle yeast over the top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until frothy. While the yeast is sitting, mix together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add in oil and yogurt and mix until crumbly. Stir the water and yeast and then add to the flour mixture, mixing until a ball of dough forms. Knead with floured hands until the dough is smooth. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 3 to 4 hours.
Once the dough has risen, preheat oven to 500° F with a baking stone in the oven. Flip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until easy to handle. Break into 4-5 equal-sized balls. Dip each ball into a small amount of flour. Roll into an oval shape approximately 1/4″ thick. Once the oven and stone are preheated, dip hands in water and wet each piece of dough slightly before placing it on the stone. Bake at 500° F for 4-5 minutes until top is golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the stone and brush with clarified butter. Serve.
Makes 4-5 pieces.
adapted from Manjula’s Kitchen