(Indian, Pakistani tandoor-baked bread)
Naan is the famous bread from northern India and Pakistan that is baked in a distinctive tandoor oven. The intense heat of a tandoor is most closely replicated in the modern home by a very hot oven. Variations of naan are found from India to Central Asia on into the Middle East.
6 to 8 breads
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Set an empty baking sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 500°F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 cumin seed, 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.