International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Naan

Naan (Indian, Pakistani tandoor-baked bread)

(Indian, Pakistani tandoor-baked bread)

Image Creative Commons by Moonsun1981

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Naan is the famous bread from northern India and Pakistan that is baked in a distinctive tandoor oven. Variations of naan are found from India to Central Asia on into the Middle East.

The intense heat of a tandoor is most closely replicated in the modern home by a very hot oven.

6 to 8 breads

Ingredients

  • Active dry yeast -- 1 (1/4-ounce) package
  • Sugar -- 1 teaspoon
  • Warm (110-115°F) milk -- 3 tablespoons
  • All-purpose flour -- 4 cups
  • Warm (110 to 115°F) milk -- 1/2 cup
  • Yogurt -- 1/2 cup
  • Egg, beaten -- 1
  • Oil or melted butter -- 1 tablespoon
  • Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garnish (optional, see variations)

Method

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar and 3 tablespoons warm milk. Cover and set aside for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. Add the flour to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center of the flour. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup warm milk, yogurt and eggs into the bowl with the yeast. Pour the liquid ingredients into the center well of the flour, along with oil or butter and salt.
  3. If using a mixer, beat with dough hook about 10 minutes until smooth. To mix by hand, bring the ingredients together with a fork and then knead on a lightly floured work surface until smooth, about 10 minutes.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm place until doubled in size, anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Punch the dough down with your fist and knead lightly. Cut into 8 to 10 equal portions and roll into each into a ball. Cover the balls lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled again in size.
  6. Set an empty baking sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 500°F.
  7. Roll each ball of dough into an oblong circle. Brush each with oil or ghee and sprinkle with a garnish if desired. Pat the garnish into the dough lightly with your hand.
  8. Bake in batches on the preheated baking sheet for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter or ghee as it comes from the oven if you like.

Naan Variations

  • Garnishes: Sprinkle your naan with any of the following just before popping them into the oven. Mustard seeds, cumin seeds, kalonji (onion seeds), fennel seeds, coarse salt, chopped cilantro, sauteed garlic.
  • To Make Stuffed Naan: In Step 7, roll the dough balls into a circle and place 1 tablespoon of your stuffing of choice in the middle. Fold the dough in half and roll out into an oblong shape. Proceed with the recipe. Possible stuffings: chopped mint, minced jalapenos, crumbled paneer cheese, shredded coconut.
  • Kheema Naan (Meat-stuffed naan): Saute some ground beef or lamb with a little coriander, cumin, salt and pepper, breaking up any lumps. Stuff the naan as described above.
  • Onion Kulcha: Saute some minced onion with cuminseed, garam masala and chopped cilantro. Stuff the naan as described above, roll out and garnish with some more chopped cilantro.
  • Peshwari, or Kashmiri, Naan: Mix some ground nuts (almonds, cashews, raisins) with some chopped raisins or dried or candied cherries, a little sugar, some powdered milk and a little water. Stuff the naan, roll out and garnish with some more nuts and raisins or dried cherries before baking.
  • Baking Powder Naan: Naan is sometimes made without yeast, using baking powder instead. This is faster and easier too. Simply eliminate the yeast and the initial proofing. Sift 2 teaspoons of baking powder into the dry ingredients. Beat the wet ingredients together. Mix wet and dry to form a dough. Proceed with the recipe, eliminating the second rising after portioning the dough.

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