There are two recipes that are very popular among my students. One is Chicken Tikka Masala, the other is the ever-popular Indian bread Naan.
Traditionally Naan is made of a yeasted, all-purpose flour dough and is cooked in a tandoor oven. These clay ovens (usually heated with wood or charcoal) are long and cylindrical in shape. The temperatures inside the oven range from a very scorching 800 degrees F near the bottom to a slightly less scorching 600 degrees near the top. Naan is generally shaped and slapped to sides near the top – the high heat cooks the bread quickly yielding a wonderful exterior with a lovely chew.
The best way to approximate this environment at home is to use a baking stone or steel. Either one if heated properly will get close to 550 – 600 degrees F. If using an electric oven, be sure to place the baking stone/steel on the bottom of the oven. Set the oven temperature to 550 degrees F and pre-heat the oven for at least 25 minutes.
Super easy to put together and needing only 1 hour of rise time, this recipe will yield 10 -12 individual pieces of naan. I like to top the bread with salted, minced garlic and or green chilies/cilantro before putting into the oven. Be sure to top the finished pieces with ghee before serving. The garlicky, spicy flavor is perfect fresh from the oven with a glass of red wine!
Yield: 10-12 pieces
- 2 tsp yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- 500 grams flour (all purpose)
- ½ tsp. salt + a pinch
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. oil
- 150 ml warm milk
- 150 ml yogurt
- 1 egg – whisked
- Nigella seeds
- Garlic crushed with a bit of salt
- Finely minced jalapeño peppers or Thai green chilies
- Julienned mint
- Minced cilantro
- Activate yeast according to package directions – set aside.
- Sift the following into a stand mixer: flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Add activated yeast, sugar, 2 Tbsp. oil, milk, yogurt and egg to the dry ingredients in the mixer.
- Mix with paddle attachment until combined.
- Let rest 5 minutes, covered.
- Switch to a hook attachment, knead dough until shiny but still sticky.
- Cover bottom of a mixing bowl with oil, transfer kneaded dough and cover with cling wrap. Allow to rest for 1 hour.
- 25 minutes prior to cooking naan – preheat oven (and baking stone/steel in oven on bottom rack) to 550 degrees.
- After dough doubles in size – punch down and divide into 10-12 equal size balls. Put aside – covered with a damp dishcloth to prevent dough from drying out.
- Flour rolling surface and roll out first dough ball – using extra flour to dust if needed. Roll into an oblong shape about 1/8th to 1/4th inch thick.
- Pick up naan by one side and hold vertically – allowing the dough to stretch slightly into more of a tear drop shape.
- Put dough onto a floured pizza peel and add about ½ tsp. of topping of choice. Press lightly into naan with finger tips to make sure the topping does not fall off.
- Place naan onto heated pizza stone. Allow to bake for 2-3 minutes, until top is slightly golden. Watch closely to ensure the bread does not become overly brown.
- Remove and brush with melted, salted butter or ghee.
- Serve HOT!!!!
This is a fairly sticky and soft (almost pillowy) dough so don’t be concerned if it is still sticky after rising.
This dough is remarkably forgiving and doesn’t need to be rolled out evenly. In fact the variations in thickness will allow for the pockets of air that yield the alternating crispiness and chew that is desirable in tandoor baked naan.
When I make the naan for my family, I usually roll one out, put it in the oven and allow to bake while I am working on the the next one. However if making for a large crowd consider rolling out naans and placing onto a parchment covered baking sheet. Lightly cover the rolled out pieces with a damp paper towel while you roll out a few more naan.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please let me know your thoughts!