I have a love affair with bread.
I wish I could convince everyone to bake their own – at least once. There’s really not much better than homemade bread, warm and fresh from the oven (or in this case the stove), slathered with butter or just enjoyed on its own. If you haven’t experienced that, you’re missing out on one of life’s simplest pleasures. Homemade bread is the epitome of comfort food.
When it comes to bread I don’t really play favorites — I love everything from super-soft rolls to hearty whole wheat loaves to crusty, hole-ridden sourdough. Still, I can’t quite believe that it took me this long to share a naan recipe here, because naan is without a doubt among the best. I’d definitely dare to say that I love it more than pita (please don’t think boring, thin, store-bought pita – there’s no competition there), because it has a little more of a complex flavor, and it’s softer and chewier. It’s like a little pillow for your hummus or butter or whatever you want to serve it with; there’s just so much fluffy perfection in every bite.
When it comes to making naan, there are two schools of thought. Some people making it with baking soda and/or baking powder, some use yeast, and some use a combination of the three. I can’t say I’ve tried it every which way, but I am a firm believer in the magical powers of yeast to make a light, soft, fluffy bread, so in my mind, naan ought to have yeast. And yeah – yeast breads take a little longer to go from dough to fully cooked, but the hands-on time is usually minimal, and your patience will totallyyy pay off.
One of the things that makes naan unique is the yogurt in the dough, which keeps the bread super-soft and gives it a tangy background flavor that pita doesn’t have. Garlic does a really good job of accentuating that flavor, not to mention the fact that garlic in savory bread is never (ever ever) going to be a bad idea. The other thing that distinguishes naan and really helps contribute to its taste is cooking it on the stove. You get more of that smoky flavor and golden-brown color that makes naan what it is. A little bit of olive oil brushed on top before cooking finishes the whole thing off really well to make for an amazing homemade bread that would pretty much make any meal better.
If I’ve done my job I’ve convinced you by now that you need to try making this bread yourself. I promise it will change your life for the better in a way that only fresh, warm, homemade naan can possibly do. :)
Super-soft and pillowy naan with a hint of tang from greek yogurt and a touch of garlic for pizazz -- because warm homemade naan is dreamy.
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) warm water (110º-115ºF)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 8 ounces (1 cup) plain greek yogurt
- 4 3/8 ounces (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 15 7/8 ounces (3 3/4 cups, spoon and level) bread flour, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Mix sugar into warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top and stir in with a wooden spoon. Let sit until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the yeast mixture to yogurt and 2 ounces (1/4 cup) oil in a large bowl and stir together until smoothly combined. Add 14 7/8 ounces (3 1/2 cups, spoon and level) flour, salt, and garlic powder and stir in as well as possible. Use hands to knead together into a single ball of dough.
- Turn dough out onto counter and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating up to another 1 ounce (1/4 cup, spoon and level) flour as needed to prevent dough from getting stuck to your hands or the counter. Do not add more flour than needed; dough should stay tacky. Knead until dough is supple and elastic.
- Shape dough into a ball with a smooth top and transfer to a greased bowl about twice its size, flipping once in bowl to coat both sides with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Punch down risen dough and divide into eight equal portions. Shape each into a ball by stretching the dough out with your palms to form a smooth top and pinching the edges together underneath. Place on a large sheet of parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap once again, and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- Roll out each ball into a teardrop shape approx. 1/8" thick. Transfer back to parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise once again for another 20-30 minutes, until the dough is noticably puffier.
- Heat a cast iron or blue steel* pan on stovetop over just below medium heat. Cook naan one at a time, brushing with remaining 2 3/8 ounces (5 tablespoons) oil and placing oil-side down on pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, brush top surface with oil, flip, and cook for about another 2 minutes.** Both sides should be have browned in spots when naan is done cooking. Transfer to a wire rack while cooking remaining naan.
- These are best served warm from the oven, but any leftovers can be kept in a zip-top bag at room temperature and reheated before serving.
*I have a blue steel crêpe pan I used that worked well for cooking the naan.
**You may find that you need to raise or lower the cooking temperature depending on the pan you're using and how your stove works. As your stove heats up further, you may also need to reduce the cooking time to about 1 1/2 minutes on each side to prevent from burning naan.