Thursday, April 30, 2009


We eat a lot of naan. Naan with lentils, naan pizza, naan with dip.

I should admit right away that I rarely make naan. We rely on the frozen naan from TJs, and it's amazing.

But every once in a while, I make naan for fun. It's a process, slightly tinged with danger, and I like it.

naan resting

I use Madhur Jaffrey's recipe from World Vegetarian. Mix up your dough as directed, and divide it up into 6 - 8 balls. Let them rest for a bit. In the meantime, pick out the largest cast iron pan you have and put it on the stove.

naan rolled out

Gently stretch the dough into naan-ish shapes. As you can tell, mine vary widely. I don't worry about it. Coat your hands with olive oil or butter during this process to avoid becoming a sticky mess.


This is the dangerous part. Heat your cast iron pan up and also have your oven open with the broiler going - set up a rack about 6 inches below the broiler. Shoo small children and animals out of the kitchen. Pick up a shaped naan and toss it on the pan on the stove. Allow it to cook for a minute or two. It will puff up beautifully.

Pull your oven mitts on and transfer the entire pan to the oven. The top should just start to brown (I overcooked mine this last time and they were tougher than I like). Pull the pan out, set it back on the stove, use a spatula to pull the cooked naan off and then slap an uncooked naan on. Repeat. Try not to run into anyone or trip over anything while you are rushing around the kitchen carrying a flaming hot, incredibly heavy pan.

naan finished

This becomes a fun little dance. Have a dishtowel waiting on the counter next to the stove, as a landing place for your finished naan. You can re-heat them in the oven right before eating.

Maybe next time I'll make a double batch and undercook them slightly so I can freeze them and get us off our TJ's naan habit. We'll see.

Naan (makes 6 - 8 large naan, from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian)
5 to 6 cups flour (you can use whatever combination of white and whole wheat you like)
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 large egg
1 cup melted butter (I just used olive oil as necessary, much less than 1 cup)

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a different bowl, combine sugar and yogurt with electric mixer. Beat in milk and water, then gradually beat in 2 cups of the dry ingredients. When thoroughly mixed in, the batter will look a bit pasty. Beat in egg and then slowly add approximately 2 cups of additional flour. The batter should be thick and elastic.

Oil your hands. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in about one more cup of flour. You can add more if necessary.

The dough will be slightly sticky. Divide into 6 - 8 balls and space evenly on baking sheet. Oil your hands again and flatten each ball. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 48 hours before making the bread.

Place cast iron skillet on stove over medium-high heat. Light your broiler and place the tray about six inches from the heat.

Working on the floured counter, place one dough circle on flour, dip hands in melted butter (or oil), and press down on / push dough to make a large tear shape, about 5 inches at the narrow end and 9 at the wide end. Continue stretching until the naan is about 7 by 12 inches. (I wasn't terribly fussy about this, as you can tell.)

Slap the naan on the hot skillet. Cook for 30 seconds, move around a bit so it browns evenly, and cook another 45 seconds.

Brush with a little butter (or oil) and place pan under broiler for one minute, until it gets a few reddish spots.

Remove from broiler, brush with more butter (if desired, I don't), and serve or wrap in towel to keep warm. Repeat with remaining dough and serve or wrap in foil and refrigerate for later. To reheat, place foil-wrapped naan in 350 oven for 15 minutes.

Ms. Jaffrey recommends sprinkling the top of your naan with sesame seeds before cooking. Personally, I'm not a big sesame seed person, so I left them out, even though I'm sure it's delicious that way.

This is definitely not a recipe you break out on a weeknight unless you come home from work much more motivated than I do. Save it for a weekend and you'll thank me.


  1. Baking bread always intimidates me, but this looks like a recipe I might actually try. It would be perfect with your lentils!

  2. I've been wanting to make my own naan for a while now, because I make my own Indian food all the time at home! Can't wait to try it.

    What if you don't have a cast iron pan? Will a regular baking sheet flipped over be okay? Or should I use my terra cotta pot (that I use in lieu of a pizza stone)?

  3. This looks a bit intimidating for my very simple cooking skills but also something that I might be able to accomplish without too much disaster. And if I fail, there is always Trader Joes, like you said!

  4. Oh my goodness! This is such a favorite food of mine :) I wonder if I could do that without burning down the house?

  5. Yay! Excited to try this recipe. At the indian restaurant I sometimes go to, they also make cheese and garlic naans. Ever tried toppings like that?

  6. thank you for sharing. i HEART naan but have never made it at home. now i'm feeling hopeful.

  7. oh and you have to tell me about the naan pizza...

  8. does playing the theme to mission impossible help?

  9. yum. that's all I have to say.

  10. oh GOD i love naan.

    i generally use the store-bought stuff, but mike can never remember the name aside from the fact that it's short with an 'a' in it. he generally just calls it 'ka', which my indian friends think is absolutely hilarious!

  11. oh, man! i was with you until the shooing stage - the cat "helps" me cook almost everything, no matter what i exclaim. our mini-oven also can't fit big, heavy pans. when i have a grown-up oven, however, and a bedroom door that paws can't open...naan will be mine.

  12. This looks delicious... and dangerous. How fun. I think I need to try it out!

  13. Naan is delish. I am a little too lazy today to make all the effort, but I also love the TJ naan, so maybe I'll make a little trip later today :-)

  14. Given the incredibly small size of my kitchen, that sounds like more than a little bit of danger factor! I think the frozen naan from Joe's will have to suffice for me until I have the room for a dangerous dance of naan baking. ;-)

  15. wow this is impressive! i've only bought naan frozen and popped it in the microwave.

  16. I know what you mean by DANGER. My broiler terrifies me to my mortal core. :)

  17. dammit...patty & i are giving up bread & sugar. i will *not* let her see this...;)


  18. Today we were in the supermarket and the boy stated emphatically that 'you can't make naan bread without a tandoor' when I said I'd like to try. I'm going to send him a link to this post with a great big 'Told you so' in the title bar.

    Thank you!

  19. @ saver queen - I think you can improvise if you don't have an actual cast iron skillet. I would recommend leaving a baking pan in the oven, and using a regular skillet on the stove. When it's time to transfer, use a spatula to move the naan from the skillet to the baking pan. Unless you have some other sort of pan that is safe for both the stovetop and the broiler (which I definitely don't).

    And for anyone longing for an iron skillet, start checking out thrift stores. People tend to toss them out in this era of non-stick pans. You can easily refinish an iron skillet by running it through a cleaning cycle in the oven and then scrubbing it out and oiling it with some veggie oil. They clean up beautifully, I promise.

  20. I always thought you had to have a special oven or be from Indian descent to make naan. It looks delicious but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try it.

  21. our only cast iron anything was broken when we moved to this side of the country. it has been a year now and we STILL haven't replaced it. adding it to the list of things to look for at the swap meet this weekend.

  22. oh yum! I have to say I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with cheese and garlic narn from a particular indian restaurant we have here. Making my own could be deadly : )

  23. Don't know if this will help...but when my mom makes Indian breads at home, she makes enough dough to last the week, so it saves her time.


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