Naan © ejmorris 2002, 2003, 2008

revised 3 January 2003, 25 September 2003, 12 October 2008

adapted from recipes in "A Taste of India" by Madhur Jaffrey and "Entertaining Indian Style" by Shehzad Husain.

Ingredients serves 2 hogs (makes 6 naan) Preparation
  1. In a small bowl, add the yeast and some of the sugar to lukewarm water (do the baby's bottle test on your wrist). Whisk together until creamy. Set aside.
  2. Cut the butter into pieces in a bowl large enough for the dough to triple (I use a large casserole dish). Add boiling water and stir til the butter is melted.
  3. Add the yoghurt, salt, and rest of the sugar to the butter water. Using a wooden spoon, stir in whole wheat flour and all but ½ c allpurpose flour. Doublecheck that the dough is no warmer than baby bottle temperature, then add the yeast mixture to the large bowl. Stir just enough to mix it together. Cover (plate, lid, plastic wrap) and leave on counter for about 20 minutes (or not).
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board (use some of the leftover ½ c flour). Let the dough rest as you wash and dry your mixing bowl. This prepares the rising bowl AND gets your hands clean.
  5. Kneading: Knead the dough 5 to 10 minutes, adding small amounts of what's left of the ½ c flour to the board if dough seems sticky. (You don't have to use up all the flour.) When the dough is smooth and silky to the touch, it has been kneaded enough.
  6. Proofing: Put the dough into the clean dry bowl that holds three times the volume of the dough. Cover the bowl and allow to rise in a non-drafty area at room temperature (or in the cold oven with only the light turned on) until the dough has doubled. This might take anywhere from an hour to four hours - the cooler the area, the longer it will take. Plan ahead. It's BETTER when it takes longer to rise. A good way to tell if the dough has doubled is to wet your finger and poke a hole in the top of the dough. If the hole fills up, it hasnít risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.
  7. 30 minutes before baking the bread, put baking stone on the middle rack of the oven. Turn the oven to 500F.
  8. Shaping: 5 minutes before baking, when the dough has doubled in volume, gently turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal pieces and shape each into a round. Use your fingertips (or a floured rolling pin) to flatten the rounds. Stretch them so they become thin flat ovals or rounded triangles, approximately 4 inches wide by 8 inches long. Totton says that naan are ideally teardrop shaped. (But it doesn't really matter.)
  9. Fill a small bowl with COLD water and put it near the board.
  10. Baking: Dip your fingers in COLD water and place the shaped bread directly on the stone in the oven. Bake the bread at 500F for 5 minutes or until it is lightly golden and puffed. (It really does take only 5 minutes.) You might want to turn the bread over half way through cooking but it isn't really necessary. (Use tongs!)
  11. When the bread is done, put it on a warm plate and drizzle a little melted butter over top, if you want. (We don't bother with this step if we're serving naan with a particularly rich curry.) Serve immediatelywith Indian curry and/or Palak Paneer (spinach).
*Tap water is fine to use - just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated. To get it to lukewarm, heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist - your fingers have no idea of temperature!)

** When I measure flour, I really fluff it up in the bag before scooping out flour to roughly fill the cup. The all-purpose flour is "No Name" unbleached (about 11.5% protein). The whole wheat flour is "Five Roses" (about 13% protein).

*** In the summer, I mix the dough around 2 or 3 PM and it has risen by about 6PM. In winter (our kitchen is ridiculously cold), I mix the dough in the morning and it's ready to shape by evening. I haven't tested this but I can't see why you couldn't mix and knead the dough in the late evening and stick it in the fridge overnight to rise so you could bake it in the morning. If you try this, leave it out on the counter for at least 30 minutes before putting it in the fridge and then bring it out and let it come up to room temperature before shaping (probably would do that in the time that you are preheating the oven).