Ok, let me preface this by saying you won’t get restaurant style naan bread at home – naan bread is traditionally cooked in a tandoor oven, which can hit temperatures of 480 C (900F) – naan bread is slapped on the inside of the oven, which gives naan the flat, crisp underside and the soft, bubbly upper. However, naan is a favourite, so this is my way of trying to make it at home without a tandoor oven – not quite the same, but still pretty awesome.
Plain white flour – 3 cups – if you have some Maida Flour, then add 1 cup of this and 2 cups of plain white flour, but it’s ok to leave out – Maida gives your naan a much silkier texture
Yeast – 2 tbsps or 1 instant packet
Honey – 2 tbsps
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Plain yoghurt – 3 tbsps
Melted butter (for topping)
Toppings of your choice (garlic, seeds, cheese etc.)
Activate your yeast – I start this by putting the honey in 1 cup of warm water and disolving – you can use any sugar product, but try to get something to a rich, caramel taste – raw sugar works well. I like the taste and texture honey gives.
Add in your yeast – if you’re using an instant packet, then you won’t need to activate it like this – just follow the instructions on the packet.
Let the yeast bubble (usually takes about 10 mins) – If it doesn’t bubble, throw the mixture away – it didn’t work – try again – if it’s still not working, then your yeast may be dead – go grab a new batch. No frothy yeast water = no rising in your dough.
In the meantime, combine your flour and salt with your plain yoghurt.
Give it a quick mix till the flour takes on a crumbly texture.
Add your water & yeast mix while mixing
Mix till combined, then keep mixing for at least 5 more mins. You want to have a soft, stretchy dough. If you need to add a little more water, then do so a little at a time.
Give your dough a hand kneed to really combine the gluten strands – gluten will give the naan its texture, so make sure you get a nice dough – good dough = good naan.
Stick your dough back in your bowl and cover – place in a warm area to rise (needs to double in size – mine took about 40 mins – I have forgotten about it and had it try to escape out of the bowl – but try not to do this).
After it’s risen, punch the middle of the dough and pull it out on to a well floured board.
Rip off a palm sized portion of dough and roll in to naan(ish) shapes.
Your naan should be stretchy, but not fall apart in your hands. Pinching one end and lifting your dough will give your naan the traditional shape. I promise, that’s the last time I’ll say ‘dough’ – it’s like reading a recipe written by Homer.
Now, to cooking – this is how I do it to try and mimic a restaurant the best I can – I put my naans on a hot pizza stone under a hot grill (broiler) – this means that they are cooked a little on the underside but get direct heat from the top – it’s not quite the same, as my grill won’t get higher than 250C, so less than half a tandoor. Keep your naans in until they start to brown (4-5 mins) – they may try to rise, so punch them down (you don’t want them touching the hot grill or you’ll end up with a small fire – please, learn from my mistakes)
Once the first side is browned, flip your naans over and brush with melted butter.
This is also the time to put on any toppings you want.
Back under the grill for 3-4 mins more, until lightly browned.
Serve with any curry – naans are usually best with rich the gravies that come with meat dishes, but seriously, they can go with anything – nothing like dipping naan into tomato soup to really go over the top – the toppings I used are sesame seeds, mustard seeds, garlic – traditionally, you’d put onion seeds on, but it’s not a commonly stocked item. Feel free to experiment with whatever you want!
Ok, as a bonus recipe, some of you might have some…errr…uncooked breadlike substance, – you can use the same stuff for making pitas. Roll small hand-sized rounds and place in a dry pan.
Let it start to rise and flip over.
Push down to burst any bubbles.
Serve with humus or, well, anything! My kids are having this for lunch tomorrow instead of a sandwich.