No Indian meal is complete without the presence of a warm, fluffy roti. Chapati, roti, naan, paratha, and other Indian flatbreads are a great way to scoop up Indian curries. Yeast-leavened naan is perhaps one of the most popular breads made in a clay oven . Not many know, but naan has an interesting back story. The first mention of naan can be traced back in the works of Amir Khusrau, a celebrated Sufi poet, mystic and spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya in 1300 AD. It is also supposed to have travelled to India from central Asia and Persia with the Mughals in the 16th century.
Its ancestry aside, naan has become the preferred bread served with a variety of north Indian delicacies. And despite’s naan’s popularity, seldom do people attempt to make it at home—some feel it can’t be recreated without a tandoor, while others consider the process of making naan a long and cumbersome affair. What seems like a never-ending process can easily be simplified with methodical preparation. We reached out to Chef Siddharth Kalyanaraman, Executive Chef, Cream Centre, Mumbai, to share a step-by-step guide and expert tips and tricks so you can make restaurant-style naan at home, without a tandoor.
250 g of refined flour
20 ml oil
3 g baking soda
5 g sugar
4 g salt
60 g yogurt (room temperature)
5 g black and white sesame seeds
How to make:
1. In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the yoghurt and mix. Now, add lukewarm water and knead to make a soft dough. This dough should be softer than chapati dough. “Make sure you use room temperature yoghurt and lukewarm water. If you use cold yoghurt, the dough will not be glutinous. Gluten is the component that gives naan its chewy texture, which is one of its highlights. Also, using cold water will make the naan crumbly,” says Kalyanaraman.
2. Once the dough is ready, knead it with oil. Grease your hands with some oil and knead the dough again. Cover the dough with a moist cloth, which will help the naan dough from drying out, and let it rest for some time. Chef Kalyanaraman suggests keeping it in a warm place ideally for around 2-3 hours so that it rises well. This process is known as proofing.
3. After resting, dust your hands with dry flour, gently knead the dough again, and divide it into six equal parts to make naan. Dust a ball of naan dough with dry flour before you roll it. Keep all the dough balls on a plate and cover them with a wet cloth to prevent them from drying.
4. Roll out to make an oval or round naan, as per your preference, and sprinkle some sesame seeds on the naan. Ensure that the thickness of the naan is not more than 1/4th of an inch. If its thicker than that, there is a possibility it will not cook through within.
Now, when it comes to cooking the naan at home, chef Kalyanaraman says you can do it in an oven. In case you don’t have an oven, you can make it on the regular tawa (pan) too.
Naan in an oven
For making it in the oven, first, make sure to set its temperature to the maximum. “If your oven goes to around 275 degrees celsius, your naan shouldn’t take more than 1 to 1.5 minutes to cook,” he adds. Once done, apply some butter on the naan and serve.
Naan on a tawa
First heat the tawa thoroughly. Once done, apply some water on one side of the naan and place this side on pan. When the naan starts to cook, hold the tawa from the handle and flip it upside down. Now roast the naan directly on the flame until brown spots appear on the naan. Place the tawa back on the flame and take the naan off. Apply some butter on the naan and you’re good to go.
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