Recipe for Naan Bread
Naan bread is a traditional accompaniment for many Indian dishes, such as savory mulligatawny or spicy lentil soup, and is delicious and easy to prepare. In India, flatbread is baked in a tandoor or clay oven. My picky husband, who prefers white bread, doesn't even notice the whole wheat in this recipe. This flatbread can be used as a substitute for pita bread or, in a pinch, to build a pizza. Some naan breads are leavened with baking powder, but this yeasted version is chewy, light, and fluffy. I often add fresh garlic to my naan for an intense flavor.
My grandfather developed the method I use for kneading dough. As a young man, he owned several restaurants and also cooked for the family. Well into the golden years, his home was filled with the fragrance of freshly baked breads and pies. When his strength began to fail him, he used a hand mixer to cut down on kneading time. His method is faster and easier and produces perfect naan bread every time.
- You may use all-white flour, but you'll lose the health benefits of whole-grain flour.
- Add a dollop of plain yogurt (egg, yogurt, and liquids shouldn't exceed 1 3/4 cups) to give your naan a delicious, sour flavor.
- If you own a stand mixer, let it do the work for you. Follow the manufacturer's suggestions and after the first rise is complete, proceed with step #6 of the "instructions" section below.
- If you own a bread maker, use the dough cycle. When the cycle is over, proceed with step 6 of the "instructions" section below.
- If using a hand mixer, be careful not to let it overheat. You may need to stop after a couple of minutes and let the mixer rest before proceeding.
If using the hand mixer method, you will have to knead the dough for a few minutes:
How to Knead Dough:
- Generously sprinkle the countertop or Silpat with flour and flour your hands.
- Push the ball of dough away from you, then pull it back toward your body, fold it in half and rotate a quarter turn. Lastly, push away again with the heels of your hands. (See short video clip below.)
- Reserve the last half cup of flour to sprinkle on the surface as you knead to prevent sticking. You may not need to incorporate all of the flour.
- Continue kneading until the dough becomes smooth and elastic or springs back from your touch.
- You can test if you've kneaded the dough enough by pushing two fingers into the dough. If the indentations remain, the dough is ready to rise.
What About Bread Machines?
Although bread machines fell out of favor after the rise in popularity of lower carbohydrate diets, they are highly recommended for any home cook who enjoys bread products. Just add ingredients to the pan, and the bread machine does all the hard work.
Besides baking a perfect loaf of homemade bread, most models have a "dough" cycle that kneads ingredients and keeps the dough warm during the first rise. This feature is very handy for making pizzas, bagels, pretzels, and sweet breads such as cinnamon rolls.
Most machines also feature a special cycle for healthful, whole-grain breads. My favorite bread machine is the Panasonic SD-YD250. It is highly rated for durability and ease of use. Our model has fallen off the kitchen countertop and suffered internal damage after being plugged into a 220V outlet, yet it still works like a charm after five years of weekly use.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 15 min
1 hour 45 min
- 1 package active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons
- 1 cup water, lukewarm
- 1/3 cup milk, lukewarm
- 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 egg, beaten (egg and liquids should equal 1 3/4 cups)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour, divided
- 2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
- salted butter
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
- Combine 1 1/2 cups white flour, 1 1/2 cups wheat flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Stir to combine ingredients. Reserve the rest of the flour.
- Add water/milk/yogurt/egg mixture and blend on high speed with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes.
- Add one more cup of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is incorporated.
- Place dough on a floured surface and knead as explained above in the "tips" section, incorporating most or all of the remaining half cup of flour during the kneading process.
- When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in an oiled bowl, rubbing a little oil on the dough's top surface, so it doesn't dry out. Cover bowl with a towel and set in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Return dough to a floured surface and knead in minced garlic, if using. Cut dough into 4 pieces. Cut each piece into 3 or 4 uniformly sized pieces. When finished, you should have about 16 lumps of dough.
- Roll each lump into a ball of dough and set aside. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a thin, oval shape.
- Preheat a grill or griddle and lightly brush with oil. Transfer ovals onto the grill and cook for 2 to 4 minutes on each side, until puffy and lightly browned. Remove from grill, brush with butter and keep warm. Serve immediately.