Do you love naan (na’an)? When Mark and I visited Bangalore (Bengaluru), India, in 2009, we enjoyed all kinds of local fare, but one experience was particularly memorable. While taking in the delicious aromas at one of the local restaurants, I was mesmerized by the skill with which the cook fearlessly slapped the dough up against the blazing hot inner wall of a tandoor oven. Eventually, our eyes met, and he motioned for me to come around into the kitchen for a closer look. After a couple of batches, he invited me to give it a try, but I must admit that my sense of adventure failed me as I gazed into that raging fire. Instead, I learned to make it at home in my comfortable kitchen!
Naan (Na’an) Recipe
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
||Confirm water temperature with an instant-read thermometer; stir together in the bowl of a heavy-duty free-standing mixer. Let stand until foamy (4-5 minutes).||Warm sugar water helps activate the yeast, but over 120°F risks killing it.|
||Add to yeast mixture.||Yogurt improves naan crumb texture and crust color.|
||Place the mixer bowl on a scales and weigh in the flour; scatter with salt. With dough hook in hand, give 10-15 big stirs to get a jump start on the mixing. Attach the hook; mix on level 1 until a sticky, stretchy dough forms (4-5 minutes).||Weighing flour produces consistent results. All-purpose flour has less structure building gluten than bread flour, which promotes a loose and stretchy dough. High hydration is essential for creating an open crumb. Mixing increases elasticity.|
||Spread flour thickly across the workspace. With a flexible silicone spatula, release dough from dough hook, scrape dough from the bowl, dropping it upon the floured surface.|
|Only Proof: Roll dough in flour to coat. Drop into a large plastic food bag and tie shut; proof at room temperature (70-75°F) until doubled in volume (about 1 ½ hours).||After proofing, it is easier to release this sticky dough from a bag than a bowl.|
||Spread flour thickly across the workspace. Open the bag and invert, gently releasing the dough onto the flour. Flip and pat into a 9-inch round. Using a chef’s knife or bench scraper, cut 8 equally sized “pizza” wedges. Gently use your fingertips to pull and stretch each piece to 8 inches and then widen until each piece is approximately ⅓ inch thick. Flip, as needed, to coat in flour to prevent sticking.||The goal here is minimal deflation during shaping to maximize open crumb structure during cooking.|
|Place a heavy 10-inch ceramic nonstick skillet over medium heat. Return to the first two pieces of dough shaped; arrange in the skillet at least ½ inch apart. Cover and cook until deep brown areas appear on the bottoms (2-3 minutes). Lift the lid briefly to flip; repeat. Transfer to a wire cooling rack; repeat with remaining pieces of dough.||Returning to the first two pieces of dough formed gives them time to relax and to expand their air pockets, which promotes an open crumb. Pressing deflates air pockets as they are trying to expand.|
||Brush tops generously.||Olive oil has a more neutral flavor than extra-virgin.|
Additional Testing Notes: Cast iron tends to smoke. An oven or toaster oven fails to deliver the desirable splotchy browned/blackened areas that mimic tandoor oven baking.