I have eaten at many Indian restaurants in the US. What do all these restaurants have in common? Naan is the typical bread that is served. However, when I was in India, I learned that naan is not the everyday bread. Roti or chapati is what is usually ordered at restaurants, and what is served in homes. Of course, living in an Indian household myself, we usually make roti. But every now and then I like to indulge in the goodness that is naan. But in order to make a really good naan, you’ve got to let the dough rise.
*For best results, use a pizza stone
For the dough:
- Maida, aka white flour, 2 cups
- active dry yeast, 1 tsp (I usually use a packet)
- salt, 1 tsp
- sugar, 1tsp
- baking soda, just a pinch (I have been known to forget this ingredient when I am in a rush..I never notice a difference)
- oil, 2 tbs give or take, but keep the bottle around
- dahi, aka yogurt, 2 1/2 tbs (I have used nonfat and regular, I like regular)
- water, 3/4 cup between 105* to 110*..I call it bath water
Put hot water into a bowl and stir in the yeast. Cover and let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until it has a nice layer of foam at the top. In another bowl, add the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda and mix well. Once mixed, add the yogurt and oil. Mix gently, making crumbles, but make sure you get it mixed into all the flour.
Once the yeast is foamy, add it to the flour and start kneading. Knead until your dough is smooth and soft. Then take some oil and pour a little bit into your hand and knead the bread again for about 10 seconds. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it sit in a warm area for about 4 hours, but definitely no less than two. The dough will double in size.
Now the fun part begins. This is what I do, about 45 minutes before we eat, I turn the oven on to 500*. Don’t forget to put the pizza stone in the oven. I have done this before and had to wait another 30 minutes. It sucked. After 30 minutes, you can either turn the oven to broil or keep it at 500. I have experimented with both. the results were similar, but sometimes with broil the naan got too dark. You decide which is best for you.
Take the dough and knead for another 5 minutes. Sometimes when I am really hungry, I don’t do this step. Divide the dough into equal parts and roll into balls. Flatten with hand, and dip both sides in flour. Roll the dough out into whatever shape you want. I usually do oval. It is just easier. Make sure it is not too thin, but make sure it isn’t too thick. However many you think you can fit on the stone, roll out at once. Once rolled, place onto pizza stone and quickly close oven. I don’t take the stone out, I just pull the rack enough to not burn my hands when placing the dough on the stone. Wait and watch. The naan will start rising. You can take it out when your desired color is achieved. I usually start a timer and cook for about 1.5-2 minutes.
Voila. You have naan.
*Sometimes I take fresh minced garlic and place on top of naan then put in oven
*Sometimes I use chili flakes
*Sometimes I use paneer
*Sometimes I brush the naan with ghee or butter