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Naan Recipe

Naan Breads

This is my Naan Recipe - and it's surprisingly simple. Naan bread probably originated in Persia, indeed the Persian word naan simply means 'bread'. It is now one of the most popular breads in Southern Asia and is eaten in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and even in North Western China.

It is typical of Punjabi cooking where the tandoori food is a speciality. The traditionally naan recipe calls for it to be baked in a tandoori oven (it is unlikely that you will have one in your kitchen so we will have to improvise) and is a slightly leaven bread.

Naan traditionally is leaven with yeast, some naan recipes will substitute baking powder which is quicker and simpler but does not rise quite so well (although it's pretty close); the taste is slightly different but to me just as good.

There are also a multitude of other options so I will do the simplest recipe first and then describe the options.

Basic Ingredients

1 teaspoon each
   Dried activated yeast

Żlb (225g) Flour

Notes on Ingredients

Yeast, sugar water. This will form the rising agent. See below for the baking powder alternative.

Flour. A lot of Indian flatbreads use atta flour naans should be made from maida, a plain white flour, this rises better than wholemeal and gives a much softer finish. I sometimes mix about 25% chapati flour with white flour just for a bit of bite. Some people like to sieve the flour before mixing, not essential but does give a slightly better finish

Salt. Personally I think this, like most breads, needs a little salt, maybe ╝ teaspoon. Omit if paranoid about salt.

Yoghurt. Plain natural yoghurt - Indians sometimes use curds instead. (I do sometimes think of experimenting with mango yoghurt or something but I have my limits). I never measure this, I just keep adding bits until the dough is nice. If you run out you can substitute milk.

About Żlb (225g) flour will make 4 nice sized naans. I often make 'mini-naans' to go with snacks

Basic Method

Mix the yeast with about a tablespoon of warm water (not boiling) in a small bowl or a cup, and add the sugar.
Leave to stand in a warm place for about 5mins, it should start to froth up a bit.
Mix the salt into the flour.
Pour the yeast mix into the flour and stir round trying to distribute evenly.
Mix the yoghurt a bit at a time with a spoon until a nice doughy consistency starts to form.
Knead the dough well.
Leave in a warm place for about 10-15mins.
Heat up both a heavy bottomed frying pan and the grill.
Divide the dough into balls - depending on the amount you are making.
For each dough ball -
Roll out to about ╝in (0.5cm) thick.
Slap in the hot frying pan for about 30secs then put the frying pan under the hot grill.
When the top just starts to brown remove your naan bread to a plate and cover with kitchen paper
Do this for each dough ball.

Notes on Method

Dried activated yeast is easy to yet nowadays, if the yeast doesn't froth up, it may have been sitting in your cupboard for too long. The water only needs to be slightly warm.

Mixing the yeast mix should give you a breadcrumb type mixture, you can do this with your fingers or a spoon.

Mix the yoghurt a spoonful at a time with a spoon (much less messy than fingers). If you make the dough too runny then add a little more flour. The dough should be soft and springy. Usually I make the dough a little 'wetter' than actually required because you are going to add more flour whilst kneading which will stiffen it up slightly.

Like all bread, good kneading is the key to a good bread. At least 10 minutes and more if you can.

The hot frying pan under the grill thing is the closest I can get to imitating a tandoor. You can use just a pan which works reasonably well or you can bake in a hot oven but this takes longer and dries out the naan a bit. The naan bread will puff up as it cooks.


Naan recipes, whilst basically simple, have many variations and there are a number of optional ingredients for naan breads which you can mix into the flour before making the dough or use as toppings sprinkled on before cooking.

Nigella seeds (kalongi)
Cumin seeds
Sesame seed
Poppy seed
Small flakes of garlic.

are all things that I have tried and work well. I might experiment with caraway or fennel seeds at some point.

You can use milk instead of yoghurt or a combination of both. Personally I like yoghurt the most.

Some people also mix in some ghee or oil with the dough. This is OK and gives a slightly crisper product.

Baking Powder. This recipe uses yeast, which is most traditional; however a lot of naan recipes specify baking powder as a leavening agent - about ¾ teaspoon in the above amount. Technically this is then called a Kulcha which can be either baked or cooked on the stove top. In fact, a lot of the time, I make kulchas rather than naan - it's just quicker and the results are very similar (and always good).

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