Naan 2 Plain Leavened Flat Bread Cooked on Tava (Cast Iron Indian Pan)
Nan 2 Sadi (Without Yoghurt)
Naan is a popular Indian bread, traditionally made in a ‘tandoor’, an Indian clay oven. Tandoors cook food at very high temperatures. It is impossible to have that high a temperature in a domestic oven, but if you cook them on a heavy bottomed pan/tava, or on maximum heat or under a preheated grill, the results are pretty good. In fact, I tend to make them on an old, heavy frying pan these days instead of an oven or grill and they come out pretty good.
Naan, though Indian, can also be used with non-Indian meals, like with soups or dips or with a little cheese and salad. Either cut up a large Naan into strips or make very small Naans. This recipe is slightly different from Nan 1, it does not require yoghurt or strong flour. Makes approximately 16.
4 cups or approximately 600 gm. plain flour or maida
1-1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
400 ml. hand warm water
2 level tsp. Instant Active Dry Yeast*. Use less yeast if you have more time for the dough to rise naturally.
1 tsp. salt
2-3 tbsp. flour, for dusting during rolling out
2 tbsp. nigella seeds (kalonji/kalaunji)
3-4 tbsp. ghee or oil for serving (optional)
*Instant Active Dry Yeast, does not need to be activated/proofed, it can be added directly to the flour.
*Active Dry Yeast, has to be activated. Mix warm milk, water & sugar in a jug, sprinkle 2 tbsp. yeast on top & stir. Ignore lumps, they will disintegrate. Cover & keep aside at room temperature, until frothy.
Sift flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add Nigella seeds.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add Instant Active Dry Yeast. Add a little water at a time, using only the required amount, until you get a soft dough. You usually need 65-70% liquid to flour. Don't be afraid to add a little more or a little less water than the recipe states. You are looking to get soft, but manageable dough.
Knead it enough, stretching and folding, until you have a soft dough; 4-5 minutes. (You can use the Easy Bread method described in Nan 1.)
Cover with an oiled cling film or kitchen towel and leave to 'mature' in a warm place for 2-6 hours. It takes less time in a hot room and more in a cold room***. Time is not important, the dough should rise to approximately double. (You can make dough in a bread maker too, simply follow your machine’s instructions and switch to ‘dough’ setting).
Knock the dough back down and make it into a smooth ball. Cover and leave it to rise again, covered, until it to double in size again. The dough is now ready to make naans.
Rolling out naans; Break off enough dough to make a ball 1 1/2 times the size of a golf ball.
Dust and roll out into to an oblong or a large tear shape, approximately 20-22 cm. or 8-9 inches in length, one end narrower than the other. You can also make round naans if you wish. If using a tandoor or grill, you can roll out as many as will fit onto your tray.
Cooking; Naans are traditionally cooked in a very hot Tandoor. At home, Indians often cook naans on an upturned wok, but I find that they cook okay in an ordinary, heavy frying pan/griddle or under a grill or in an oven, just as long as they are hot and the naans cook quickly. Slow cooking makes them leathery. Cooking multiple naans at a time in an oven is of course faster.
Cooking naans on a griddle or a heavy bottomed pan or tava;
Place 1-2 naans on a heated griddle/pan. When a few bubbles appear, turn over. It should have a few brown blisters by now. After about 30-40 seconds, turn over again and gently coax them to balloon up by pressing with a kitchen towel. Cook until a few blisters appear on the other side too. See picture. You can turn them over a few times to get even cooking.
Cooking in an oven or under a grill; When cooking under a grill or in an oven, roll out 3-4 naans at a time, as many as will fit on your oven tray easily. You can roll out the next batch of naans while the previous batch is cooking.
Heat grill or oven to maximum. Mine heats to 300°C. Leave the tray under the grill/inside the oven so it gets really hot. Naans placed on a cold tray will stick to it and you will get stiff/hard/leathery naans!
Place 3-4 naans at a time on the pre-heated tray quickly, so the tray doesn’t cool down. Place the tray back in the oven or under the grill. The naans will puff up fairly quickly. If cooking under a hot grill, you need to turn them over to cook the other side. When ready, they will have a few brown blisters scattered on each surface. Oven should cook them on both sides simultaneously.
Whether you brush it with ghee or not, is your personal choice. I don’t.
Serve hot, with a curry/dal of choice.
***Dough that rises slowly in a colder room, gives much tastier bread.
Topping; Before cooking, you can sprinkle the top of the naan with a few 1) chopped, blanched almonds or 2) cumin seeds or 3) fennel seeds or 4) chopped green chillies or 5) broken up red chillies or 6) grated/chopped garlic and a drizzle of ghee or olive oil 7) chopped coriander leaves. Topping should be gently pressed into the naan with a rolling pin.
Variations; Topping; Before cooking, you can sprinkle the top of the naan with a few 1) chopped, blanched almonds or 2) cumin seeds or 3) fennel seeds or 4) chopped green chillies or 5) broken up red chillies or 6) grated/chopped garlic and a drizzle of ghee or olive oil 7) chopped coriander leaves. Topping should be gently pressed into the naan with a rolling pin.
Stuffings; 1)Keema Nan, 2) Peshawari Nan, 3) Shredded tandoori or other cooked/leftover chicken. Add extra spices to the chicken, because it will be inside un-spiced bread. 4) A teaspoon of cooked and spiced spinach/fenugreek leaves. Squeeze and dry the water out completely before stuffing. 5) Spiced mashed potatoes. See Aloo Paratha recipe. 6) Grated paneer cheese, mixed with spices.
Additions to the dough; 1) Chopped mint or 2) a mix of chopped onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic or 3) other herbs of choice.
Experiment with other fillings/toppings. To stuff a naan, roll out the ball, place a heaped teaspoon of the stuffing in the centre, pull edges in, to make a ball again. Continue as in plain naan.