Bread Baker: Restaurant-Quality Naan Bread Is Easier Than You Think

At Christmas I received a kit, complete with spices and red lentils, to make Indian dal. I’m not much of an Indian food expert, but I knew enough to want a side of naan bread for dipping.

I wondered how to replicate the classic slightly charred taste of true naan bread, produced by the 900 degree heat of a tandoor oven. I turned to Food Network host Aarti Sequeira’s recipe and learned that all I needed was a cast-iron skillet.

I expected making naan to be a challenging project, but I was surprised by how easy it turned out to be. Yes, the dough is wet and sticky, but dust enough flour on your work surface and you’ll be fine. The wet dough is pliable and easy to shape – no rolling pin needed.

I got my skillet smoking hot and tossed the first bread in. Within a few seconds it was starting to rise and bubble. A minute later I flipped the bread to expose perfect char marks. Thirty seconds later the bread was done.

True, this naan bread wasn’t infused with tandoor smoke. Aside from that, it tasted spot on. It was warm and chewy and perfect for dipping in the dal.

This recipe makes six pieces of naan bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (9.5 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) warm water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Step 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, yeast, baking powder, sugar and salt and whisk together. In a separate bowl whisk together the water, olive oil and yogurt. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl and stir together.

Step 2. Knead for five minutes. Because the dough is wet, it is much easier to do this with a dough hook than by hand. The finished dough shouldn’t clean the sides of the bowl, but should stick to the dough hook. Resist adding more flour unless the dough is really soupy. The finished dough should be quite sticky to the touch.

Step 3. Let the dough rise for three hours. (Mine rose for four hours, and I over-proofed it.) It will double in size.

 

Step 4. Scrape out the dough onto a very well-floured surface. It helps to have a bench knife to cut the dough into six equal pieces. Dip the knife into water before slicing. Coat each hunk of  dough in flour so it won’t stick.

Step 5. Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat. Using your hands, gently stretch  out the dough to shape the naan. Traditionally naan bread is shaped to look like tear drops or rough triangles. Mine weren’t that pretty. Stretch the dough until it is about one-quarter of an inch thick. If it is sticking to your hands you aren’t using enough flour.

Step 6. When the skillet is smoking it is ready to start cooking. Lay the first naan into the dry skillet. Cook for one minutes, then flip and cook for another 30 to 45 seconds.

Transfer to a cooling rack, brush with the melted butter, then wrap in a towel before serving.

The naan reheat well. If you’ll be serving them later in the day, brush with butter but let them cool completely on the rack. To reheat, wrap in a towel and place in a 200 degree F for about 30 minutes.

  • Jen

    I never considered making naan myself. Your directions and photos make it look doable. Thanks.

  • Freddie

    Just made this it was delicious. Thank you for the perfect recipe

  • Nicole Platte

    Chapati are easier. And still well worth it. Just two ingredients, flour and water. :-)

  • Jen’sFutureHusband

    Do you think it’s alright to freeze them?

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