The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Afghan-style naan

Felila's picture

Afghan-style naan

I wanted to make naan. I pored over the recipes in my cookbooks, the recipes given here at Fresh Loaf,  and decided that I did NOT want to make any straight-through naan. I have been making bread from a pre-ferment for so long that I have come to dislike the tasty of straight-through bread. It's too yeasty. Also, it costs more; yeast, even at my food co-op in bulk, can be expensive. I'm dirt-poor right now, and economizing. That's why the recipe from my Afghan cookbook appealed. It used a pre-ferment and didn't call for lots of expensive ingredients. 

The real Afghan naan is sourdough. They make it every day (send it out to the baker to bake in his tandoor) and just save a pinch of dough from today's bread to put in the pre-ferment for tomorrow's bread. I had let my sourdough culture die (bad mom!) but I could use a little yeast.

So I just made bread dough as if I were making the Fresh Loaf ciabatta (but without the dried milk, which I don't have). Pre-ferment of flour (mix of white and ww), yeast, and water, then added oil, salt, and a little more yeast the next day. Kneaded in KitchenAid. Let it rise once and then baked it in a cast-iron skillet on top of the stove. The pliable dough rolled out beautifully. (4-1/2 cups flour total made 12 naan just the right size for a skillet.)

I've never had tandoor naan, so I don't know what I'm missing ... but THIS naan was dang good. I froze most of it and I've been eating one or two a day. With a sprinkling of salt. Plus some homemade chai. Yum.



Nim's picture

wow, that does sound good. Indian naan is also sourdough, but there is no pre-ferment. You knead the dough with homemade yogurt and let it sit out for a day and voila! you have perfect naan dough. I don't think I can quite get away with that here in cold New Hampshire but I have not been making naan because I did not want to use yeast, but your description makes me want to try.

jannrn's picture

I am in South Florida and would LOVEV to try BOTH of your Naan recipes!! I make my own yogurt and am loving using it in different recipes! So if you feel like sharing...PLEASE do so!!


Felila's picture

I just used the ciabatta integrale recipe that's posting on this website. It's a link in the column on the left. I didn't have powdered milk, so I just used water. In making it as regular loaves, I've left out the powdered milk and replaced the water with evaporated milk. That would be fine too. If you want to use your yogurt, what you can do is mix yogurt and water until you have 3/4 cup of liquid.

I've seen lots of different recipes for naan. Some have milk or yogurt, some don't; some have eggs, some don't. It seems to me that naan dough is JUST bread dough. You could take almost any wheat bread dough and cook it like naan.

Of course, I'm not a great authority, as I've never eaten tandoor-cooked naan at a restaurant, or traveled in India-Pakistan-Afghanistan.

I would suspect that the wealthier households could afford the naan with ghee, yogurt, and eggs, and the poorer ones might make naan with just flour, salt, water -- plus, of course, sourdough left over from the previous batch.


douginjapan's picture

Sound delicious, i loved getting Naan from some of the locals i worked with while i was stationed in Afghanistan. They would come on to the base do odd jobs for us, and for lunch one of them always cooked some big pot of goat meat stew and other side dishes. The translator told me they were surprised because i would actually eat with them, alot of GI's wouldn't even try it.

mredwood's picture

Recently I just read about making naan in a cast iron skillet and in a wok with a cover. I'm inspired to try. Nice to know  the skillet works. Buying naan is expensive and sometimes nothing else will do. It is way to easy and cheap to make to consider buying.


Felila's picture

Whether you're using a skillet or a wok, it's going to take a little experimentation to figure out just the right heat for your stove and cooking implements.

When I was making my first batch of skillet naan, the resident manager at the condo building knocked on my door and asked me if anything was burning.

Same course of experimentation I had to use when learning to make Persian rice. Too mild and you don't get the tadig, the crunchy crust; too hot and the tadig is just burnt.