Naan 3 Cornmeal Leavened Flat Bread
Nan 3 Makka Nan
I love the taste of Cornmeal flat bread (Makka Roti). However, corn does not have gluten, so it is essential to add some plain or self-raising flour, to make the dough develop and rise. I have added both yoghurt and yeast, to give the dough a good rise.
Makes approximately 12.
Edited January 2023
250 gm. or 2 full cups plain flour or maida
100 gm. or 1 level cup cornmeal or maize flour
250 ml. warm water
2 tbsp. active/live yoghurt (dahi)
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast or instant yeast*, roughly 1/2 tsp. per cup of flour.
2 tbsp. oil (I use olive oil)
1 tsp. Nigella seeds (kalaunji/kalownji) or poppy seeds (khus-khus) or sesame seeds (Til)
Butter for brushing before serving (optional)
*Instant yeast, does not need to be activated, it can be added directly to the flour.
*Dry Yeast needs to be activated. Place 120-150ml warm water in a large jug, along with 1 tsp. of sugar. Sprinkle dried, active yeast and 2-3 tbsp. flour on top. Stir, cover and keep aside at room temperature, until it becomes frothy, approximately
Unless using Instant yeast, activate yeast until it froths.
Sift flour and salt in a bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add yoghurt, milk, water, yeast mix, a little at a time to make a soft and pliable dough, using required amount of liquid from the warm milk-water-yeast mix. The dough must be soft to get soft naans. You should add water slowly, a little at a time, so that you don't end up with very runny and unmanageable dough. Don't be afraid to add a little more or a little less water than a bread recipe states. I do not knead the dough too much these days, just bring the flour together, using Dan Lepard's Easy Bread method. It makes no difference in the long run.
Cover with an oiled cling film, I use a plastic shower cap, and leave to 'mature' in a warm place/kitchen for 10 minutes.
Oil a work surface and your hands liberally with oil from the measured amount and lightly knead it for 20-30 seconds, until it looks smooth. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
Oil the work surface and your hands again and lightly knead it for another 20-30 seconds.
Cover and leave for 45 minutes to an hour or until it doubles in size.
Knock the dough down and knead it a little, making it into a smooth lump. Cover. It is ready to make naans.
Rolling out Naans
I roll one ball at a time as I go along. If you are new to this, divide the dough into 12-14 portions, rolling each into a ball. Keep them covered with a moist cloth.
Dust and roll out a ball into an oblong/large tear shape, approximately 20-22 cm./ 8-9 inches in length, one end narrower than the other. Naans can be made round, if you wish. Roll out 1-4 Naans at a time. If cooking on a tava or griddle, you can only make 1 or 2 at a time, whereas 3-5 can be cooked at once when making under a grill. You can roll out the next batch of Naans while the previous batch is cooking.
To cook on a griddle or a heavy bottomed pan or tava, Heat it first. Place 1-2 Naans on it. I often use on two griddles/tavas side by side, to cook naans faster. You can do this too with practice.
When the naan changes colour slightly, becomes a little darker, turn it over. After about 30-40 seconds, turn over again, it should have a few brown blisters now. Gently coax it to balloon up by pressing all over with a kitchen towel or any clean piece of cloth. It should have a few brown blisters on both sides when ready. The steam generated inside a ballooned naan will cook the edges from inside. Please note that corn naans take a little longer to cook than plain, white naans
Grill/Oven cooking: Heat the grill to maximum or oven to around 250C or 480F or gas mark 9. Leave the tray to heat up under the grill/in the oven. Naans placed on cold tray will stick and you will get stiff/hard/leathery Naans!
Place 3-4 Naans at a time on the pre-heated tray and place the tray under the grill/in the oven. The Naans will puff up fairly quickly.
Turnover and cook the other side. When ready, they have a few brown blisters scattered on each surface. Remember that the tray needs to be re-heated fully before you cook the next batch.
Whether you brush it with ghee or not before serving, is your choice. Serve hot. Crisp and hot Naans can also be served with a little cheese and salad or served with soup in place of ordinary bread. Tiny Naans can be served with dips.
Naans are also cooked on an upturned, hot wok,/b> by many people, instead of a griddle/tava/oven/tandoor.
To make Naans soft, the dough needs to be soft, because the steam from water makes the dough rise better. Just like chaptties, slacker your dough, better they rise and softer they are. So, the consistency should be as slack as you can manage to roll. Indian chefs often do it by hand and dont even use the rolling pin. For this, the dough has to be really soft and pliable.
Too much yeast will also make them rise fast and then collapse. In fact, if you have time, use even less yeast that in the recipe and let the dough rise naturally. Most people in India do not use yeast at all, they let yoghurt and natural yeast do the work. In fact, I have amended the recipes today, to reduce the amount.
Oven temperatures of domestic ovens can not match a tandoor. Pre-heat your oven fully to maximum, before you cook naans. I cook them on a HOT pan these days. The naans you make at home can not be like tandoor cooked naans, made by people who do this every day.