Lately I’ve been eating more than my share of naan bread—as I “perfect” my flatbread skills. Even though it originated in India and Pakistan, naan’s popularity is definitely not limited to Southeast Asia. It is delicious with just about anything looking for bread.
Because naan typically includes yeast and yogurt it tends to be chewy and light, with a slightly tart flavor. It’s not as fast to make as unleavened breads like tortillas or roti, but when you get your rhythm going you’ll be rolling out naan like Lucy at the chocolate factory!
Lacking a tandoor oven, the next best cooking alternative is a heavy cast iron skillet (I can’t wait to give it a whirl on the outdoor grill!). For now a large, very flat crepe pan is working just fine.
Although the dough is not complicated and is easily mixed by hand, allow adequate time for the kneading and rising. I often make the dough and refrigerate it overnight. Once the dough is ready, the cooking time is next to nothing. It’s merely a matter of rolling out one flatbread at a time and laying it down onto the very hot surface.
The naan begins to puff and blister almost immediately, requiring a quick flip from one side to the other. This rapid succession ensures that both the yeast and yogurt deliver the bread’s addictive chewiness. I like to sprinkle a dusting of Lebanese za’atar over the top while still moist.
Enjoy the naan warm with or without butter dipped in soup or stew. Serve it as a snack with seasoned olive oil, hummus, pate or cheese.
- 2-1/2 cup AP flour, approximate
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- ½ cup hot water
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoon oil and/or butter for pan
In a medium bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, sugar, salt and instant yeast. Make a well in center and add the water and oil. With a spoon incorporate the flour a little at a time into the liquid. When combined, mix in the yogurt.
Continue to stir in enough flour to form a loose dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and continue to knead in additional flour as needed to form a smooth light dough, about 10 minutes. A bench scraper may be helpful to move the dough about.
Return the soft dough to a clean oiled bowl, loosely cover, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 hour.
Divide dough into 8 portions. On floured surface, roll out one portion at a time to about ¼” thick and 8” in diameter.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium/high heat. Lightly brush the skillet surface with oil and/or butter. Lay the naan into the pan, let it puff, bubble, brown and cook on each side, with blistered pockets—about 3 minutes per side. If too hot, lower heat. A lid may be useful to hold in heat if necessary. Remove bread, wipe out pan and repeat. Yield: 8 flatbread