Naan is one of the most popular flat breads served with Indian curries. It originates from India but is today eaten in most types of South Asian restaurants and homes around the globe. It has transformed from a basic form of bread for many to experimental creations by chefs and food enthusiasts today with different fillings and flavors.
The first recorded history of Naan can be found in the notes of the Indo-Persian poet Amir Kushrau in 1300 AD. Naan was originally cooked at the Imperial Court in Delhi as naan-e-tunuk (light bread) and naan-e-tanuri (cooked in a tandoor oven). During the Mughal era in India from around 1526, Naan accompanied by keema (a dish made with ground meat) or kebab was a popular breakfast food of the royals.
The word Naan is derived from the Persian word ‘non’ which refers to bread.The ingredients for making Naan usually consists of dry yeast, all-purpose flour, warm water, sugar, salt, ghee and yogurt. The ingredients are used to make a smooth and stretchy elastic dough which is used to make Naans. Milk may be used to give greater volume and thickness to the Naan.
The methods of cooking Naan have evolved over time. Naan is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven. This is different from from roti or chapatti, which is usually cooked on a flat or slightly concave iron griddle called a tawa. Typically, it’s served hot and brushed with ghee (clarified butter) or butter.
Wheat as you may know has high gluten (naturally found protein in wheat) compared to all-purpose flour (maida) so the wheat version of the bread is usually denser. So I started experimenting with a blend of wheat flour and all-purpose flour. Eggs are usually not used to make Naan but I have noticed that it helps in leavening the dough, to bind it and add moisture, definitely making for a fluffier yet richer tasting bread. Well finally, here we are with a recipe that I believe does a satisfactory job of yielding super soft wheat naan that is extremely delicious too!
2 1/2 Cups - Whole wheat flour/ Aata
1 to 1 1/4 Cups - All-purpose flour
3 Tsp - Yeast
1/2 Tsp - Salt
1/2 Tsp - Baking soda
2 Tsp - Sugar
1 - Egg
1/2 Cup - Plain Yogurt
4 Tablespoons - Oil or Ghee(Clarified Butter)
1 Cup - Milk, at room temperature
1-2 Tablespoon - Chia seeds
1-2 Tablespoon - Sesame seeds
Food Processor (optional)
Wire rack / wire grate (preferable, to cook on open fire)
A lid to cover the naan while cooking on the griddle
Casserole/ Tortilla Warmer/ Roti Box
** I made the dough in a food processor because it is quick and mess free but if you don't have a food processor then you can use your hand to make the dough
- In a bowl add wheat flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and yeast. Mix and it keep aside
- Attach the dough blade to the food processor
- Add egg, yogurt, milk, and oil/ghee and pulse a few times until the mixture is incorporated
- Open the food processor and add the wheat flour mixture in 2 batches and pulse until the mixture comes together
- Now add the about all-purpose flour and pulse. Just add enough so that dough comes together and is not too sticky. I used about 1 1/8 cup of all-purpose flour.
- Apply oil to your hands and take the dough from the food processor. Knead a few times.
- Transfer the dough to an greased bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a wet cloth and let the dough rise until almost doubled.
- Divide the dough into 16 balls
- To cook the naan, heat the griddle / tawa on medium heat
- Whole the griddle is getting heated, dust some wheat flour on to the rolling pin and surface and roll the dough into 6-7 inch circle. I work with smaller portion of the dough as it is easier to manage it.
- Sprinkle some sesame seeds and chia seeds on one side press it with the rolling pin
- Sprinkle little water onto one side and carefully place it on the griddle with the water side down
- Cover it with a lid
- Once you notice bubble flip the naan and slightly cook the other side
- Transfer the naan to the open flame and place it on the wire rack
- Cook on both side until you see brown bubbles
- Brush the Naan with butter/ghee and transfer the Naan to casserole. This prevents the naan from drying out.
- If you don't have a food processor work with your hands.
- If you don't have a wire rack, you can cook the Naan on the griddle
- To speed the proofing process, transfer the dough to a oven proof bowl. Cover the bowl with a wet cloth. Preheat the oven to 100 F and switch it off. Place the bowl in the oven. Keep the oven light on as it radiates a small amount of constant heat.
- You can try any version of Naan from the list below:
- Plain Naan – simplest form which is brushed with ghee or butter.
- Garlic Naan – topped with crushed garlic and butter/ghee.
- Kulcha Naan – has a filling of cooked onions.
- Keema Naan – includes a filling of minced lamb, mutton or goat meat.
- Roghani Naan – sprinkled with sesame seeds, and is popular in Pakistan
- Peshawari Naan and Kashmiri Naan - filled with a mixture of nuts and raisins including pistachios
- Paneer Naan – stuffed with a filling of paneer (cheese) flavored with ground coriander and paprika
- Amritsari Naan – stuffed with mash potatoes and spices and also known as ‘Aloo Naan,’ originating from Amritsar, India.