Naan

I have been to a few India Restaurants over the years and one of my favorite parts of the meal has been the Naan Bread.  I decided to find out more about Naan and see if I could make it just with sourdough since a couple of years ago I made some with wine yeast.  When I was reading up on Naan I found that it was a generic term for India flatbread and that it is made in neighboring countries as well.  I have been adjusting the formula for about four weeks and today it was really great.  My neighbor had a piece of it and said it better than the Naan in the restaurant.  I thought it was wonderful too.

The Dough

Ingredient Weight US Volume Bakers Percentage
AP Flour 416 g 14.67 oz 3.26 cups 100.00%
Salt 8 g 0.28 oz 0.64 tbspns 1.92%
166% hydration Preferment 332 g 11.71 oz 2.6 cups 79.81%
Sugar 5 g 0.18 oz 0.32 tbspns 1.20%
Olive Oil 37 g 1.31 oz 2.56 tbspns 8.89%
Yoghurt 148 g 5.22 oz 0.65 cups 35.58%
One Large Egg 54 g 1.9 oz 3.84 tbspns 12.98%
Total Weight: 1000 grams / 35.27 ounces
Total Flour Weight: 416 grams / 14.67 ounces

Bakers percentages are relative to flour weight (flour equals 100%) and every other ingredient is a percentage of this. Flour from the Starter is not counted. Note: This recipe was uploaded in grams and has been automatically converted to other measures, let us know of any corrections.

Method

The starter is made in two builds from 60% hydration storage starter with 332 grams of 166% hydration preferment going into the dough.  All of the water for this bread is in the preferment.  The other nice fact about doing the preferment with the high hydration is the dough raises fast and doesn't get a lot of sourdough flavor.  I figured many years ago before packaged yeast Naan had to be made as a type of sourdough hopefully this is close to what they did.  To made the dough just mix all the ingredients together and let it raise up to double in its size.  The yoghurt and egg need to be beaten before they are added to the other ingredients.  I did no punching down or stretch and folds to the dough.  This is a flatbread so I didn't see a need to do that.  This ends up making a nice soft dough that my brain is working on to make other breads from but it is just wonderful to touch and work with.  Personally I think there is a pizza just wanting to be made from the dough.  I also imagine that the dough could be put in the fridge a few days and you could break off a piece and make a Naan when ever you wanted one.  There are a number of different ways you can cook the Naan but this Naan was cooked in a cast iron frying pan.  You can also bake it in your oven or in a Tandoor if you have one.  

When the dough has doubled in size turn it out on to a well floured surface.  Get flour on your hands and grab the dough and twist off a ball of dough.  You will have to learn what size of ball to twist off since this is what determines how big the Naan will be.  I made 11 Naans from my dough and think I could have made 12 if I had planned on it.  The dough is sticky where it is twisted off so roll it around in the flour so you can work with it.  Now start shaping the Naan into a flat round.  Naans are by tradition ovals but it was hard to make ovals and cook them in a frying pan.  Keep working the dough out making the round larger and larger.  I made my Naans about an 1/8" thick.  The frying pan heat was at 4.5 on my stove.  I saw directions that said not to have the frying pan smoking hot but I think I was just at the slightly smoking hot temperature.  The Naan cooks fairly fast.

The first Naan I used some spray oil in the pan and the rest no spray oil was added.  The Naan bubbles up as it cooks and you will just have to guess at the timing when to flip the bread over.  Naan in restaurants sometimes has little burn spots on it so I tried to cook it until it looked like that.  When you flip the Naan over I brushed melted butter onto the side that was just done.  You can form the next Naan to get ready to cook as the current Naan is cooking.  Cooking goes by pretty fast.

This is what I like about Naan.  It tastes great and it is very easy to make.  I could see having a bowl of this dough in the fridge just so you could make a quick fast bread when ever you wanted some bread to eat.  Best of all you can eat it hot you don't have to wait for it to cool down.

16 comments

Hi LeadDog,

 

Congrats on a very do-able recipe for naan!

 

I was just wondering why you did not bake the dough. I know we can't get the oven temperature to the level of that of a tandoor, but baking the naan will give it the puffiness and lightness of traditional naan. Did you try it?

 

Am thinking of garlic naan and mutton curry now........

 

Occa

 Hi Occa,

Yes I have baked the Naan in the oven but I like the frying pan method better.  I have a outdoor charcoal grill/cooker that I have made Naan in and it was just great.  I can get the temperature of it to 1,000°F.  I did forget to mention all the variations that you can do with Naan once you have the basic formula.  I have seen formulas for garlic and curry Naan.  The original formula had baking powder in it but I found that wasn't needed.  I would imagine the sugar could be left out too.  

Yes I had the Naan with curry and rice.  Some things just are meant to be eaten together. 

Brings back terrif memories of my time in India and Malaysia! Love all the Indian breads, but there's something really special about naan. Virtually very Indian hawker restaurant in Malaysia has a tandoor (lucky Teckpoh will vouch for that!). Naan dough slapped on the inner sides of a fired up tandoor bakes in a couple of minutes and acquires a delicious smokiness to the crust that is hard to get at home.

 

Your naans look delicious, LeadDog, although they are closer in appearance to a thick paratha than authentic naan, which puffs up more and is breadier. Maybe it's just the camera angle. I got pretty close to the tandoor naans I had in India and Malaysia through adapting Peter Reinhart's naan recipe and baking it on a hot pizza stone in a maxed out oven. One of the notes I made for 'next time' was to try a sourdough version, so it's interesting to see that you achieved good flavour with your naturally leavened naan.

And yeah, while all the Indian flatbreads are perfect with a good Indian curry, a great naan is a joy.

 Ross when I made the Naan in my charcoal cooker it puffed up just like the real thing.  I have no doubts that this dough would puff up like that if I cooked in my charcoal cooker.  The flavor of course is what I was chasing after and the above formula gives me the flavor of real Naan.  I'll probably start cooking Naan in the charcoal cooker now that summer time is here and I think a Naan pizza is almost certain to happen.  The flatbread cooked in the frying pan just bubbles up as it cooks.  It really is kind of cool to watch.  The bread is nice and supple and soft with a very yummy taste.  Some of the best tasting bread I have ever made.

I don't think there is any real substitute for a tandoor-baked naan, but yeah, LeadDog, I can imagine your charcoal cooker might approximate the baking conditions of a tandoor pretty closely, and hopefully add that touch of smokiness that so distinguishes a great naan. Probably a WFO would do a v good job of naan too, come to think about it. Anyway...

Enjoy your summer and the many gorgeous naans ahead! We're into winter, so I'll be trying that long-fementation bread of yours you posted about during our summer. Looking forward to that.

Cheers!
Ross

PS: I do a lot of Indian food and have a killer chicken curry recipe - if you're interested, PM me.

 You know the tandoors that I have seen here in the USA weren't smoking.  I'll bet it was for some fire/safety/health reason.  I do know how to make bread taste smokey so I think I'll give that a try in the charcoal cooker.  Here is a picture of it just so you know what I'm using.

Ross there is a section in the recipe area for food other than bread.  Why don't you post your chicken curry recipe there?

Just  cooked 2 naans. I cooked them in a rotating electric pizza cooker. It has a stone which I heated up for 15 minutes.  I then brushed it with Ghee before placing the naans on.  The cooker might not have been able to generate enough heat..the naans didnt get burn marks..they didnt even bubble while cooking....but they ended up with a light toasted skin all over them, with a soft middle.  The flavour was a sourdough taste which I expected, but from Leaddogs photo, his looked soft after cooking..mine were stiff from the toasted surface..is it the pizza oven not generating enough heat?  The Ghee did smoke a bit, so I figured it was hot enough...

Regards..Perry

 Did you brush the Naan with Ghee or melted butter when they are done?  I think that you also might be right that the pizza cooker isn't hot enough.

Hi LeadDog

I brushed the surface of the stone with Ghee before cooking and brushed the top surface of the naan before flipping it over,  mind you the pizza oven does have a top element as well as one under the stone, but I didnt brush them with anything after they cooked.  The dough was very sticky when mixed..too sticky to handle, so I had to use a fair bit of flour as I was shaping them...but at least they taste good!  Is it right that I need to have an oven up around 900F to cook these?  That is one hot oven!

Regards..Perry

Hi LeadDog

I brushed the surface of the stone with Ghee before cooking and brushed the top surface of the naan before flipping it over,  mind you the pizza oven does have a top element as well as one under the stone, but I didnt brush them with anything after they cooked.  The dough was very sticky when mixed..too sticky to handle, so I had to use a fair bit of flour as I was shaping them...but at least they taste good!  Is it right that I need to have an oven up around 900F to cook these?  That is one hot oven!

Regards..Perry

 I would brush the Ghee on after it was cooked and let it soak in.  The traditional oven is very hot maybe even 900°F.

Hi LD, Been making this naan for about a month now since I saw your recipe. 

first, I have put the covered dough in the fridge and made it on demand, great, no difference that I can tell.

second, I just got off the table from a delicious pizza meal made with this dough.  it worked fantastic..  I make yeast pizza alot and I make a great pizza at home, this was just as good, a little less big bubbles but edible all the way to the edge.  I made two, and par baked them first which is what I normally do, just until they can be handled and set aside til dinner or frozen which is what I did.  Actually, it freezes and defrosts better than my par baked yeast dough.  Of the two, one of them was thinner than the other, pilot error, and everyone said the thinner one was better.  I saw a "Top Ten Pizzerias" show somewhere and one of the pizzerias did a sourdough crust, and they rolled it thin through a big roller, like a pasta machine, and then they set the form on it and cut off the edges to fit.  So after I rolled it out I put the pizza pan on it and cut to size.

In making it for pizza after the first rise, (which was after the first ferment and after all the ingredients were added), I put it out on the counter with flour and added enough flour while kneading, until it felt velvety smooth like pizza dough.  I oiled the bowl and top and set it to rise again and man did it take off this time.  It moistened up just a bit, because it's sourdough but it was very easy to handle and I dusted with flour just enough to handle and roll.

third, I varied your recipe, not that it wasn't great but just that I'm normally cheaper than a young birds cry, so no ghee, butter or olive oil, just canola or vegetable oil.  Also, no yoghurt, instead I took a cup of whole milk and put a heaping teaspoon of starter in it and let it sit for a day or two.  It will curd up, just a little, but it will definitely sour the milk and was a good and cheap substitute for the yogurt.

fourth, the remainder I made as naan and baked most of it as one of your reader's writes and I didn't like the effect.  It didn't puff up as well as in the hot skillet.  So, that's the baking of it.

Thanks for a great a versitile recipe.

Tom

 

Hi Tom,  I'm glad you like the recipe.  I really like your idea of putting the starter in some milk and letting it sour.  I think I will have to try that sometime.  I have yet to try this formual for a pizza dough but if you look around on the site here you will find my recipe for deep dish pizza.  People who eat that deep dish pizza give wonderful comments about it.  Happy baking.

What is the hydration preferment? I am new it this.

 

 

Hi Walther,

The preferment (your bread starter as distinct from your stock starter) is made at a hydration of 166%.  This means that for every 100g of flour there will be 166g of water.

If your stock starter was at 100% hydration (a common value - equal weights of flour and water) then to prepare the required starter for this recipe you would take 80g and feed it with 80g of flour and 160g of water.  This would give you the bare amount so you could add an extra few grams of flour and water to the feed to give you a bit of a surplus over the amount called for in the recipe.

Hope this helps and good luck with your projects.

Farinam

Hi Walther.

What is the hydration preferment? I am new it this.

The preferment is what is used to leven the bread.  The 166% hydration just tells you how much water there is to the flour.  My storage starter is kept about at 60% hydration.  I take 2 grams of it and mix it with the water and flour for the preferement.  I'm currently letting the preferement sit for 24 hours before I add it to the flour to make my bread.  There are lots of different ways to make bread.  We each have our reasons for doing it our way.  If you have any more questions just ask.