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People who love Indian food swoon over Naan bread. This staple bread in the north of India is known for being soft and pillowy with voluptuous bubbles on top. It’s not typically made in a skillet, pan or in an ordinary oven, but in a tandoor oven that can reach temperatures of almost 500º C! Here we share our ordinary kitchen version, well worth the schlepp.

Naan Breads

Ingredients


  • 15 ml active dry yeast
  • 15 ml sugar
  • 180 ml strong lukewarm water
  • 450 g cake flour (plus more for rolling out)
  • 7.5 ml salt
  • 2.5 ml baking powder
  • 45 ml plain yoghurt
  • 30 ml sunflower or canola oil
  • 10 ml fennel seeds
  • 5 ml cumin or nigella seeds
  • some extra water for kneading (about 90 – 125 ml)
  • melted butter for brushing
  • coarse salt for sprinkling



Chef's hint: You can use instant yeast if you like and still follow the method as above – the end result will be the same. And if you feel like garlic Naans, add finely chopped garlic and parsley to the butter.

Method


Place the yeast and 5 ml of the sugar in a small glass bowl. Add the lukewarm water and allow to stand in a warm place until frothy on the surface, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile sift the flour, salt, remaining sugar and baking powder into a large bowl.

When the yeast is frothy, add the yogurt and oil and stir well.

Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients then add the seeds. Stir gently with a fork to combine dry and liquid ingredients then continue to mix by hand. If the mixture feels firm and dry, add small amounts of water until you have a soft, sticky dough.

Now knead-pull-fold the mixture on a lightly floured surface, adding small amounts of water if required, to get a soft dough. At first the mixture will be sticky but continue pulling, folding and kneading the mixture until it transforms into a beautifully soft, pliable dough that is no longer sticking to your hands. When you can stretch the dough a little without it breaking apart, stop kneading and form it into a smooth ball.

Place the dough ball in an oiled dish and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm place for 2 to 4 hours or until doubled in size.

Now, on a wooden board, knock the dough down and fashion it into a long sausage shape then cut the ‘sausage’ into 12 equal portions.

Using a floured rolling pin and board, thinly roll out a piece of dough out. The dough should not be thicker than half centimetre to ensure that it cooks right through.

Now heat a non-stick skillet as hot as possible. The skillet should be smooth-surfaced and have a lid that fits well. Have ready a bowl of tap water.

Now slightly dampen your hands in the water and pick up the Naan. Lightly slap it from one hand to the other to dampen it. Lay it in the skillet and cover it with a lid. The dough will start to make large bubbles on top after a minute or so and will become browned and crisp at the bottom. Cook the Naan for a further minute or so until the top feels dry and it’s cooked through. If you are unsure, place the Naan now directly onto a rack of a very hot oven for a few minutes or until cooked through to your liking.

When cooked to your your liking, brush the Naan with butter and sprinkle with a little coarse salt. Place it in a basket or a dish lined with a clean tea towel and cover it with the towel.

Repeat the process with the rest of the dough until you've cooked all the Naans.

Serve still warm.

Makes 12 smallish Naans