The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Naan issues

Floydm's picture

Naan issues

This evening, on a Bhangra-fueled whim, I tried making a bunch of Indian food. I made Zeera Murg (Cumin Chicken), Saag Paneer (Spinich with Cheese), a Basmati Rice / Red Lentil Pilaf, and Naan.

It wasn't bad, but I didn't think the meal came out great. What should you expect when you turn to that classic of Indian cooking, The Joy of Cooking?

Nevertheless, here is the naan recipe I used. If anyone actually knows something about Indian food or culture and has recipes to share, I'd love to hear it.


4 naan

2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup yogurt or buttermilk
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon water, if needed

Mix the dry ingredients then make a well and add the wet ingredients. Mix it all together so that it forms a ball and then knead it for approximately 10 minutes. Place the dough back into a greased bowl, cover with plastic, and let rise for approximately 90 minutes.

An hour into the first rise, begin preheating the oven to 475. If you have a baking stone, use it. Otherwise, place a cookie sheet or two in the oven upside down before turning the oven on.

Split the dough into 4 even pieces. Shape each into a ball, cover with a towel, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll the dough out into 8 to 10 inch long ovals. The dough should be no more than 1/4 inch thick.

If you'd like you can brush the top of the dough with a little melted butter. Chopped green onions, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or garlic can also be sprinkled on top before placing it into the oven.

Place the naan directly onto the hot surface and bake for 6 or 7 minutes until they begin to turn golden. Remove from the oven and eat!

Altaf's picture

Floydm, indian cooking at your fingertips:

sanjeev kapoor

the cooks cottage

i hope the following helps :-)

gtuck's picture

Altaf, those are great sites--especially mahanandi.  Thank you!
I've struggled to make naan at home for quite some time.  I've used cookie sheets, pizza stones, a super hot oven and the broiler.  Recipes have varied with eggs, and or yogurt, baking powder, ghee.  But I've had the best luck with Manjula's recipe from Youtube.  It may be the baking soda rather than the powder and/or the four hour slow rise.  I'm not sure, but it has turned out wonderfully.  Not quite like those from a real tandoor, but very good I think.  

shi's picture

Floydom I think your Nans look good and any other help u need regarding Indian cooking particularly North India cookery ill be glad to help.

helend's picture

My naan recipe comes from Madhur Jaffrey and uses baking powder, yoghurt and egg too - mine often puff up like pittas - odd. I like her recipes as she starts from scratch with spices and tells interesting stories - also is "anglicised" enough for me to cope with finding ingredients and cooking methods.

My favourite flat bread is her technique for making chapatis - just wholemeal flour and water kneaded into a soft dough, then rolled out into rounds about 6", not too thin - but cooked on a preheated griddle over a low flame briefly then directly over a low gas flame util they puff up. Magic!

I will try and take some pictures of the puffed up breads and flames next time but her are some - deflated but still good :)


shi's picture

helend this is a surprise I would have never believed that someone (non-India) would make chapatties. It is our major diet in india. I dont put my chapatti on the gas burner to puff. you can try puffing it on the girddle itself. that way its soft. yum. For naans that are not puffed u can slightly slash them 2-3 times before baking. Hope I have been of help.

sphealey's picture

Indian food is quite popular at least in metropolitan areas of the United States, although each city tends to have a greater number of restuarants representing a specific region of India (no doubt reflecting the major source of immigrants to that city). My current city sadly only has ~10 Indian restaurants, of which only 2 are good :-(. So I am forced to try cooking my own. One of my family members is allergic to nuts, so that way I can keep control of the ingredients too. Our local bookstores probably have 20-30 Indian cookbooks of a total of 1000 or so on the shelves.

I made a nice roti last week with 1/2 bread flour (white) and 1/2 whole wheat (wholemeal). It came out well. But in comparing it to restuarant roti I came to the conclusion that they use a LOT more butter than I did!

Now if I could just get that tandoori oven built in the back yard...


tatter's picture

Shi....I make my own chapatis!!! I tried red lentil dosas last week to go with my lamb curry... we liked them with chutney! They were great...but most of all I love son can even tidy up his room within an hour if he knows I'll make parathas...;)
I suppose I'm quite lucky as my neighbours are from Punjab and my Indian recipes come from them as a rule...thanks to them I know how to make missi rotis, pooris and the best naan or peshwari ever!!!

helend's picture

Hi Shi and all fellow indian bread fans

I really enjoy cooking breads to go with meals. Can you tell me how you cook your chapattis only on the girdle as I love the soft chapattis we have in our local restaurant which is Bangladeshi.

We are very fond of asian cooking and are lucky enough to live in Leicester, England which has a large asian population originally refugees from countries like Uganda and Bangladesh and now with almost 50% of the city population from other cultures than "English". I have friends and colleagues from India and Pakistan who often share cooking tips and ideas. We have a wonderful selection of indian restaurants, asian grocers and even in the major supermarkets eg Tesco's Asda (Walmart) and Sainsbury's it is easy to buy ingredients to try out asian and carribbean recipes. I am not very good at some of the names/spellings for ingredients so tend to use the anglicised versions eg cumin rather than jeera but I really like being able to buy whole spices and roast/grind them at home.

On the bread front thanks for the tip about the naans. I don't generally make pooris becasue I don't like frying but do sometimes make paratha but what are pooris?

tatter's picture

Helend, I am in Roundthorn n/Oldham...:)
Pooris are small cakes of dough...they puff up into light airy breads when fried. Delicious! Let me know if you need a recipe!

merlie's picture

Are Pooris the same as Luchi ? I had delicious Luchi at an Indian dinner many years ago but have never come across them since .Would love to know how to make them as we love and often cook Indian food!  Merlie.

luc's picture

One major difference between homemade naan and the naan from many Indian restaurants is the way the naan is cooked.

Home oven can't get anywhere near as hot as a proper tandoori style oven. I recently did a side by side test with my commercial pizza oven (stone hearth) and a proper Indian tandoor that I'm lucky to have in my restaurant.

I made the same dough - same time for rising etc... but the results were so different that it was astounding. The Tandoor is so much hotter than an oven can be - even the big industrial pizza oven we have. As well - the texture of the naan changes in a tandoor becuase of the fact that it's sticking to a side wall made of firebrick or mud.

Now - that being said - the naans that came out of the oven were tasty enough - enough to serve to customers... but... of note is that Indian customers right off can tell when the naan comes out of the oven and not the out of the tandoor.

Contributing to the difference in flavor and aroma is the heat source as well - in our pizza oven - it's an electrical heating element - in our tandoor it's the charcoal which is usually from hardwoods. It burns forever and basically the fire in the tandoor never goes out. At night it just burns down - but never really goes out. I wouldn't be surprised if there were tandoors in India that have been continuously burning for years. :D

The drawback to a tandoor oven is that most people homes would not be a safe place for one - for fire/children and pet safety issues.

Even baker safety issues. Heh - reaching down into the tandoor to stick a wet piece of naan dough onto the side wall is a bit nerve racking... and it's inevitable that you will get burned a few times before you get your technique down.

As well they require a smoke hood in most commercial applications so a home tandoor would create real problems.

Hope that was some helpful info.

dough-re-mi's picture

I have tried a number of recipes for naan, but was never able to come close to Indian restaurant naan, because the naans I made were so thick, instead of being floppy. The best recipe I found was Bernard Clayton's, but those come out thick and rigid also.

Once I had some Artisan Bread in Five Minutes dough in my fridge that I needed to use up, so I made some little flatbreads, but docked the bread and added chopped garlick  and melted ghee before putting it into my little commercial countertop oven. What came out was the closest 'pseudo-naan' I have made, because of the floppy texture.

I mentioned this on the ABIFMAD web forum (this was about 2 years ago), and the authors said that what I had done was just dock a pita dough. I joked that if they did not give more help on flatbreads, I would have to make a few thousand of them and wrote my own book. I am not saying my comment caused this to happen exactly, but they announced soon after that they were writing their next book, Artisan Flatbreads and Pizza in Five Minutes (due out in October 2011 apparently).


Anyway, somehow what I made worked for me, with no eggs, no baking powder, no milk.