A thick, chewy yogurt Indian flatbread traditionally baked on the walls of a tandoor oven, it really is possible to make terrific naan using your home oven. You'll need to budgets 3 hours for the rise time (total), but otherwise the process is fairly easy—and the results amazing.Yum
I have kind of high expectations for naan. It's got to have noticeable tinges of yogurt and ghee. It's got to be cute and oblong, preferably lightly stippled. Naan has to have charred spots but be thick and thoroughly chewy. Not restaurant fare easily replicable at home, where the tandoor oven is naught.
I tried a lot of homemade naan recipes before settling on this winner from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook (and online on their website). If you don't know Hot Bread Kitchen, they're a community bakery and small business incubator that trains bakers while reflecting the diverse baking traditions the bakers bring with them from their own homes and backgrounds. The cookbook is one of my favorite and lives in my kitchen as a constant reference.
Dough for naan
Dough for naan is an enriched yeast dough, here with a little added leavening power from baking powder. Naan dough also contains yogurt (you can use any kind of plain yogurt), milk, and ghee, or clarified butter. Ghee is easy to find at many supermarkets and almost all brands I've seen are kosher certified. But if you can't find it, you can use softened butter instead. After leaving the yeast to get foamy, it's a dump and knead kind of dough.
The naan in this recipe is shaped entirely by hand, no rolling out. The hand stippling gives it its nice organic shape and allows it to remain thick and chewy. To shape a flatbread, take a ball of dough and flatten it into an oblong shape by pressing down on it with the pads of your fingers.
The original recipe is for 12 naans, which come out individual-sized. To make larger, restaurant-style naans for tearing and sharing (and which require less batches in the oven), you can divide the dough into 6 rather than 12 balls and make larger naans.
Baking naan in a home oven
In this version, the naans get baked at high heat (500F / 260C) on an oven (pizza) stone. After just two minutes on each side, they'll emerge with browned spots, but soft and pillowy and baked all the way through. If you don't gave an oven stone or baking steel, you can use an overturned baking sheet (so that the surface is flat) and preheat it in the oven just like the instructions for using the stone. A pizza peel is also handy here for depositing the naans onto the hot stone and removing them, but you could use long tongs and oven mitts in a pinch. I like to hang my naan a little bit off the peel so that it catches on the baking stone. On my stone, I bake 1 large or 2 individual-sized naans at a time.
Of course naan is perfect as part of a saucy Indian meal, but they're also great on their own with chutneys, raitas, and other dips (like fresh pita!).
Homemade Naan (dairy)
Make the dough:
- Whisk together the yeast and water in the stand mixer bowl. Leave for 5 minutes, until foamy.
- Add the bread flour, salt, baking powder, milk, yogurt, and ghee/butter. Knead with the dough hook on the lowest speed until the dough comes together, 2 minutes. Increase the mixer speed and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, 5 minutes.
- Drizzle some ghee into a bowl or dough bucket, place the ball of dough inside, and drizzle with more ghee. Cover and leave to rise for 2 hours, until puffed and soft.
Division and second rise:
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 12 small balls for individual naans, or 6 large balls for larger naans. Cover the balls with plastic (or place them on a sheet pan with a lid) and leave to rise for 1 hour.
- Place a baking stone on the lowest rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 500F for at least 30 minutes.
- Working with 1 large or 2 smaller balls of dough at a time, flatten and stretch the dough by hand to form an oblong shape 6" wide and 10" wide for a large naan and about 3" wide and 6" long for small naan.
- Place 1 large or 2 small naans on a pizza peel and transfer them to the hot stone. Bake for 2 minutes, then flip the naans over using the peel and bake for another 2 minutes.
- Keep the baked naans wrapped up in a towel while working in batches.