Instant Gratification- the Indian flatbread, Naan!

naan

Also, see a video of this method…

This is the fastest bread in the book to make and one that I eat all the time. It is absolutely delicious and it takes no forethought. So, on those busy days when I have not had time to spend hours thinking about what I will make my family for dinner I make a Naan to go with soup, chili, a roasted chicken or even curry.

The traditional Indian flatbread is made in a blazing hot tandoor oven and then brushed with melted ghee (clarified butter). We assumed that most of our readers would not have a tandoor oven so we decided to make this in a cast iron pan on the stove top. We cook the dough in ghee or butter so that it has the same flavor as the traditional bread, with so much less work. I’ve made this bread using just about every dough in the book; spinach feta, whole wheat, master, olive, and herb. One day I even made it out of brioche dough. I fried the brioche dough in butter, drizzled a little maple syrup and finished it with powdered sugar. It was just like the fried dough at the State Fair and only took a couple of minutes. My boys were thrilled.

To make Naan:

1/2-pound (orange size) piece dough of your choice. Roll the dough to 1/16th-inch thick circle.

2 tablespoons Ghee, clarified butter or European style butter (You can use regular butter, but you have to be careful of the butter burning. The ghee and clarified butter have a higher burning point and allow you to cook without worry of it burning.) Vegan option: swap high-smoking-point oil instead of ghee or butter (canola, peanut, soybean, etc.)

Salt to taste

naan

Heat a heavy bottom Cast Iron Skillet to medium temperature. Add the butter and melt, swirl it to coat the bottom of the pan.

naan

Lay the dough into the pan.

naan

Cover the pan to trap the heat in order to “bake” the bread.

naan

After about 2 1/2 minutes flip the dough with a pair of Tongs. Sprinkle with salt and cook, covered for another 2 1/2 minutes.

naan

Serve it with Suvir Saran’s cool minted soup from his wonderful book Indian Home Cooking. We loved this simple soup so much that we added it to our book.

Also, see a video of this method…

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128 thoughts on “Instant Gratification- the Indian flatbread, Naan!

  1. Wow, neat techinque. I’ve started making naan recently, but I’ve been doing in the oven on my pizza stone. I’m going to have to try your technique, especially since summer is on its way and turning the oven on in the summer makes makes my apartment unbearably hot!

    It also looks like your technique makes for a softer result. The stuff I make on the pizza stone can get a bit too crispy.

  2. Hi The Wind Attack,

    If you bake your naan in the oven, wrap it in a clean kitchen towel when it comes out and it will be softer.

    Enjoy! Zoë

  3. Next time you are in NY, check out the Pakistani Tea House, where a very happy gentleman stands and makes fresh naan all day on something resembling a commericial crepe maker. It is very good. Share your table with a taxi driver on break, or kids from Stuyvesant High School.

  4. YUM. I made this a few weeks ago to go with chana punjabi and it was PERFECT. It’s so chewy and delicious, and I didn’t have to preheat the oven. Love it!

  5. I have the perfect pan for that! I love naan. And you can spice it up by adding onions, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, garlic, etc.

  6. Zoe! Thank you for this post. Before I read your book, I used to make naan on my grill in large batches which was a lot of work because I had to make and use an entire batch of dough. Now you have made the entire process so much easier! Thank you. I’ll fish out my cast iron pan and make some for lunch today.

    I have had excellent results making the pita bread from your book as a quick an easy accompaniment to soup. But I think that naan will be lovely with today’s pea soup.

    I was just telling my husband how you and Jeff have really simplified the breadmaking process. Now, it is so easy for me to throw together a perfect pizza at the last minute, one that is far better than anything I could buy!

    You should title your next book No Fear Bread Baking! You really have solved all of the most daunting aspects of baking any type of yeasted bread. I am now confident that all my loaves will be perfect, something I couldn’t say before reading your book and blog. Thanks again!

  7. Mmmm, The naan recipe alone makes this book worth the purchase. Honestly, I’m getting a little embarrassed by how much I love this book;-)

    -Sarah

  8. Hi –

    Do you think I could use olive or canola oil instead of the butter? Then I could use the ww dough and stay within the phase 3 guidelines for South Beach.

    Now that Passover is over, I can go back to experimenting with the ww boule. Still enjoying all the results! Can’t wait for the new book!

  9. Can you clarify how the dough went into the pan?

    Was it rolled? Stretched then dropped? The picture makes it look round with no jagged edges.

    Looks great

  10. Pingback: Back and blogging about bread « Fishes and Loaves

  11. I regularly make this too – so easy and good. I add my spices INTO my dough and then I cook it in a medium heated teflon pan with NO oil at all. I cook, covered by a tight fitting lid (I use a pot lid) on one side till it bubbles and browns, then turn it over and push it down with a spatula a bit so it cooks more evenly. I cool them on a pizza stone. Important hint! Wipe your teflon pan in between with a DRY, clean cloth to remove residual flour between naans, otherwise the extra flour burns and affects the taste. Using NO oil makes these a bit more waist minding so you can eat MORE!

  12. if I hadn’t just finished dinner I would be making this right now – as it is it will wait till tomorrow — but I have to admit I can’t wait to try it —

    also loved the cover you used – I will be seeing which of my covers fits my cast iron pan now

  13. Hi everyone, thank you for the lovely notes! It is wonderful to hear about all the bread that you are baking. I appreciate all of the feedback about the book and the website. We love doing this and are so thrilled that you share your thoughts with us!

    Zoë

  14. Hi Shari, the tea house sounds amazing!

    Hi Suzan,

    yes, you can use oil to make the bread, but the flavor will be very different than if you use ghee or butter. you may want to consider using a little butter mixed with oil. Canola may be better than olive, just because it has a higher smoking point.

    Hi Ralph,

    I rolled the dough out just as I would for the pizza. You can use a rolling pin, your hands or both. This one came out perfectly round, but they don’t always and it doesn’t effect the flavor! ;)

    Hi Tara,

    I like cast iron because it is a heavy gauge pan and will conduct the heat very evenly. you can use just about any skillet, but be sure to check it often if it is a lighter weight pan, so that it doesn’t bun in spots!

    Hi Carmen,

    Thanks for catching that omission. I added the salt directions to the post.

    Thanks, Zoë

  15. This is great We like to do bbq tandoori chicken on the grill but often I don’t get around to the naan as it seemed like extra work. This looks great and since I usually have dough in the refrig in the tub I will give it a try. Thanks again for your great blog.

  16. Once you said tandoori chicken I was hoping you were going to say you were building a tandoori oven to slap the naan dough onto the side of (that’s the authentic way to make naan but not realistic for us!)

  17. I just bought your book and I love it! The Naan recipe was really a selling point. I grill mine on the propane grill in summer, though, to keep the house from getting hot. I brush the raw dough with ghee before slapping on the grill, over a medium flame. Thanks again!

  18. If I apply the Cornell formula to the basic bread, will I have to adjust the amount of water? The formula is, for 6 cups of flour, replace one cup of flour with 6 tablespoons of powdered milk, 6 tablespoons of soy flour, and 2 tablespoons of toasted wheat germ. I know the bread wouldn’t keep as long in the refrigerator because of the milk. I have used this in kneaded bread before without problems. By the way, I made some basic bread using 1/2 teaspoon of yeast, and it turned out very good.

  19. tomorrow I plan on making another batch of dough. I’m excited to try this. Because I camp alot, this would be great to do. I’m thinking of adding some cinnamon rather than the Indian spices, maybe serving with some cooked apples on top.

  20. Big fan of the book. I don’t doubt you for a second but EVERY single Indian I have spoken to has vehemently said naan is simply IMPOSSIBLE to make in a home setting. They said you need special earthenware ovens to make it. I can’t imagine they are all wrong. I’ve always wanted to try to make it but am always discouraged by them.

  21. Caitlin: I grill too, see our posts on that:
    Grilled pizza: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=237
    Pumpernickel done on the grill: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=245
    Fruit pizza on the gas grill: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=248
    Rustic fruit tart on the gas grill: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=267
    Brioche on a grill: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=294

    Tammy: So long as the final dough consistency remains constant (see our videos on the tab above) I bet it will work. Also see our low-yeast recommendations: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=85

    Laura: Let us know how it turns out!

    Sygzy: Well, our stuff doesn’t claim absolute authenticity, and to be technical, bread that you do in a pan like this is paratha, not naan. Naan is baked in a tandoor, THEN brushed with ghee. We do everything in one step.

    Try it!

  22. Hi – this is a bit off topic but here goes: every once in a while you refer somone to a link on this site. I then find great info and postings. Is there a place on the site that lists all the links: pizza, whole wheat, dense crumb, etc. I have been bookmarking them as I find them but it would be easier if there was a list somewhere. Is there? I keep learning more and more. I will be trying naan in the house and pizza on the grill this week!

  23. Hi Suzan,

    There is not a place on the website that lists all of the links, but it is a great idea. As we update our website we will consider doing that.

    Thank you and enjoy the naan! Zoë

  24. Amazing!
    Last night a made a batch of dough, mostly white flour, but some whole wheat, wheat germ, oat meal, rye flour, and some flax seeds (yes a crazy mix, but the technique is so forgiving).
    Made two boule style loaves this AM, then for dinner rolled out golf ball sized lumps of dough really thin and fried them in ghee. Hot off the pan these were superb. Keep the great ideas coming !

  25. Tried this last night, although I used the recipe in the book (made two smaller sized naans) and it was superb! I actually made garlic naan by chopping up two cloves of garlic and working it into the dough before rolling it out (1 clove for each naan). And I used the Peasant bread dough. Fantastic taste. Perfect texture. Served it with fried cauliflower and yogurt for a quasi-Indian meal. I will definitely be doing this again. BTW, I made it in a Cuisinart 12-inch “everyday” pan with cover. I don’t have a cast iron pan. It worked just great in this pan. And the glass lid made me able to see how it was baking.

  26. Hi Sandy,

    I love the addition of garlic to the dough! it must have tasted and smelled great!

    Hi Elsie,

    I’m so glad you asked. We have a recipe for it in the new book. It is awesome!

    Thanks, Zoë

  27. Zoe,I’m glad you liked my addition of garlic to the naan dough. It was delicious. I’m planning to try making an onion kulcha next (my other favorite Indian bread.)

  28. Jeff: I’m not sure why it should be too tricky. But I will experiment and let you know. I can’t wait to make my next Indian meal!

  29. My husband, who is totally fearless, has taken to making naan. He takes a bit of dough out of the refrigerator, pats it with flour to make it less sticky, stretches it a bit, then throws it in to a hot pan with butter and seasonings. He stretches the dough out to a round and then throws it on our preheated to 500 degrees grill outside. He lowers the heat down and bakes it for a few minutes.

    Last night we served it to guests (they watched the entire process, amazed)with my hummus. I cooked and cooked all day to make a Moroccan themed dinner, and my husband’s (your) grilled flatbread stole the show!

  30. Sandy: I meant not too tricky!

    Dorli: exactly. Other warm-weather ideas; check out.
    Grilled pizza: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=237
    Pumpernickel done on the grill: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=245
    Fruit pizza on the gas grill: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=248
    Rustic fruit tart on the gas grill: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=267
    Brioche on a grill: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=294
    Bread on a Coleman stove while camping: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=318

    Barbara: So you anticipated all my summertime suggestions!

  31. I made this on the stove in a teflon pan last night, YUMMO!!!! I mixed a little bit of garlic powder, salt and pepper in the dough before I cooked it which gave just a touch of flavor. My hubby loved it. I did have problems rolling it thin though. As a novice baker, does anyone have suggestions for rolling the dough out thin? I don’t have a board so just used a glass cutting board with flour on it. Perhaps this is the problem….

  32. Hi Priscilla,

    So glad you tried it, your additions sound wonderful!

    I usually just roll it out right on my counter that I’ve dusted with a bit of flour. If the dough won’t roll out easily and keeps springing back on you then just let it sit for a few minutes. The more you fight the dough the more it will spring back. Once it has a few minutes (3-8) it will roll out very easily.

    Thanks, Zoë

  33. Hi Ken,

    I start doing lots of breads on the BBQ at this time of year. I love the taste and the fact that you don’t have to heat up the entire kitchen.

    thanks, Zoë

  34. Thank you so much for this! Unbelievably I forgot that I had friends coming over for dinner tonight but had this tasty lentil soup on the stove so turned to this method for naan (thanks for the link, designmom.com) whipped up my mom’s dough and had fantastic naan in 20 minutes. It saved the day. We make hummus and lentils often and now have the ultimate bread for it, even better than pitas. Thank you!!

  35. I meant to say to other commenters, try rolling out the balls of dough onto a greased counter, instead of floured. Also, I just used a skillet with a lid; I do not have a cast iron pot. Worked nicely.

    We had ghee on hand and I agree the flavor was perfect for Indian food. Oil would cook it up just fine, but then the naan would taste closer to other breads. I appreciated the difference the ghee made.

  36. Carol: Skillet works fine, it’s just that the cast-iron is maybe a little more resistant to scorching the naan. But it depends on the pan.

  37. oh my I just got the book this week and we have just made our first loaf – and its gone already. And now i read naan bread yumm – oh the possibilities. thanks for a great book

  38. Thanks for the reply Zoe. I did the resting thing and it worked great!! We had some tonight that I put shredded cheddar in, Yum!!!

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