A combination of flour, salt, water, and yeast, bread is enjoyed by almost every people group across the globe. However, each culture performs its own twist on basic bread recipes. For example, tortillas, pita bread, matzo, and roti are all forms of flatbread that different people groups use as a day to day part of their diets. Naan is one such flatbread that is an essential part of Southeast Asian meals.
Historically, naan is baked in a clay tandoor oven. The balls of dough are stacked against the hot walls of the oven, developing a slightly crispy, charred surface, while the bread’s interior remains soft. Of course, the vast majority of home cooks don’t have a tandoor and won’t be slapping dough balls against the interiors of their own home ovens. However, the classic char can be somewhat replicated by using a heavy skillet on the stovetop. For best results with our recipe, use a preheated cast-iron skillet.
The soft, distinctive texture of naan is due to the addition of full-fat dairy products to the dough. Some recipes use buttermilk, but our recipe uses Greek yogurt. Either will work to create the perfect texture for your recipe.
While kneading bread dough is a very satisfying, relaxing process, if you have an electric stand mixer with a dough hook, creating naan can be quick and simple. Whether you make your bread by hand or with a mixer, you can still have delicious, perfectly textured naan at the end of an afternoon.
Table of Contents
Naan Bread Recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1-4 tablespoons warm water
- Olive oil for greasing the pan
Step 1: Combine Ingredients in a Bowl
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast, stirring to blend them. Add the yogurt or buttermilk and melted butter, stirring with a large wooden spoon. At this point, if you have an electric stand mixer with a dough hook, you can place the mixing bowl on the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Turn on the mixer for two or three minutes. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, just until the dough starts to stick together in a ball.
Step 2: Mix Ingredients
You don’t want the dough to be too sticky or too dry, so go slowly. The dough should ball up and “clean” the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough using the electric mixer or by hand on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes. When the dough has been kneaded adequately, the ball should be smooth and elastic with a somewhat shiny texture. Drizzle a bit of oil into the bowl and turn the dough ball so it is well coated on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for about 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours.
Step 3: Cut the Dough
When the dough is about double the size that you started with, remove the plastic wrap and lightly dust a clean kitchen counter or table with flour. Take the dough out of the bowl and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Using your hands or a rolling pin, shape the dough into a long, narrow rectangle. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into sixth.
Step 4: Shape the Dough (Flatten It)
Heat a heavy non-stick pan or a cast-iron skillet over medium-hot heat on your stove. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and allow it to heat, tilting the pan to coat its surface evenly with oil.
When the pan is hot, take each piece of dough and press it into an oblong or circle about 1/8 of an inch thick. Sprinkle the dough with a bit of poppy seeds if you like, or you can sprinkle it with a bit of coarse kosher salt. If you don’t want to use either, it will still be delicious.
Step 5: Skillet Time
Place the dough round into the hot skillet and cook it until it is bubbly and slightly puffy. Using a spatula, flip the bread to cook the backside. The bread should be browned and crispy on the cooked sides. When both sides are cooked, remove the bread to a plate and brush with melted butter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Step 6: Serve and Eat
Naan is a perfect accompaniment to authentic Indian meals, but it’s okay to change things up in your own kitchen. You can serve naan with a delicious soup or a hearty stew, or you could use it as a wrap for a tasty lunchtime treat. If six naan loaves are too much for you to eat at once, naan freezes very well. Allow it to cool to room temperature, and then freeze in zip-top freezer bags for up to a month. This way, you’ll have the taste of fresh naan all month long!
April Freeman enjoys creating all kinds of recipes for her friends and family from her country kitchen in Middle Tennessee. She and her family raise beef cattle, chickens, and all sorts of fruits and veggies on their farm, and she specializes in featuring farm-fresh foods in the recipes that she creates and serves. April says that her slogan is “Are you hungry?” and she feels that one way of showing love and connecting with others is to serve delicious favorite foods to others. Her favorite thing to cook is pies of all kinds.