It just felt wrong to go any further without including the recipe I use for naan bread on my blog. There are recipes which become so part of us it’s impossible to imagine our homes and kitchen tables without them and this certainly falls into that category.
I can’t lay claim to this recipe, as much as I would love to be able to say I found the secret recipe that simply wouldn’t be truthful. I have changed the quantities and method over the years to suit myself so in blogging theory, I *could* call them mine plus in the original recipe from Aarti Sequeira even she admits she had to tease out of an Indian Auntyji as she just couldn’t come up with the recipe by herself! They are that good. You simply must rush to your storecupboard and make them now!
Several years ago, Aarti Party, her TV series was broadcast on Sky TV and I was smitten. Cute and bubbly with a generous soul and a big healthy appetite, Aarti soon became my foodie girl crush of the time! She seemed to be on a mission to introduce Indian food to America and in amongst the Californian styled Indian salads, were some real traditional Indian recipes plus quite a few Middle/Far Eastern dishes as she grew up in Dubai and this clearly also influenced her as much as California. I feel bad for The States as the more blogs I read and foodie forums I frequent, it becomes clear that Indian food is not wildly celebrated and loved over there as it is here in England. Guys, you are missing out big time! Come, delve into my blog at least and discover the selected curries I have on here to get you going. This is exceptional.
Her Pealafels are still a regular at my house but I do believe I have made more of these naans than I care to admit. Soft and tender, the kaloonji (Nigella seeds) and fennel seeds mandatory to get that Curry House flavour in my opinion, these pillowy breads are a joy to eat. A joy I feel very guilty about not sharing with you sooner but the truth is I rarely get a photograph of them as they are eaten so fast when I make them! It is rare however, that I snap a quick photo on my phone to post on Facebook that someone doesn’t ask for the recipe. It’s now here on this post, Pin it quick!
A couple more thoughts to finish about the making, shaping and cooking of these delicious flatbreads. If I am feeling virtuous, not too hungry or there are other carbs to served with the meal I will halve it all and serve it for just the two of us. If we are having a light fish curry (like this one) then I might make the full amount then feel slightly guilty afterwards! Hungry Hubby can usually polish off two thirds… If I don’t eat my half first lol! I like to serve it plain with most things but occasionally as a treat, I will mix up the garlicky, coriander butter below and paste it on before cooking.
As for cooking, you’ll never get an authentic tandoor finish in a conventional oven but having made tons of these naans, I can tell you the method I’ve honed works a treat. One day I will get myself a tandoor, when we finally live somewhere with outdoor space, till then, my lidded frying pan and super hot grill will have to do! Once, I made a double batch and cooked them on Daddums BBQ to serve at a big family party and they went down a storm – plus they looked so cute shaped into mini versions of the large, traditional teardrop shaped breads. That teardrop, by the way, is achieved because if you were lucky enough to be cooking them in a tandoor, the weight of the bread dough itself would pull it downwards as it cooks in the roaring heat within. And one final point – this is a yeasted dough but it is completely hands free and no knead! The longer you leave it to prove, the better for the flavour but apart from dusting your hands well and being prepared to get a little sticky as you shape the breads before slapping onto a red hot dry frying pan, there is almost no work involved.
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp dried yeast (I use fast action yeast)
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- Big fat pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp kaloonji (Nigella seeds)
- 1 tbsp oil (olive or coconut are good)
- 3 tbsp Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup warm water (approximately)
- A little extra oil to brush or an oil spray (I use rapeseed oil spray)
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely minced
- 1-2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 1-2 tsp soft butter
- A tiny drizzle of olive oil (1/4 tsp)
- Salt and pepper
- Mix the flour, yeast, baking powder, sugar, salt and seeds together.
- Mix the yogurt, oil and warm water together (you will have slightly less than a full cup of liquid in total) then pour it into the dough slowly, stirring with a spatula. Once you have a soft and sticky but NOT sloppy dough, stop adding the liquid. Occasionally you will need a bit more water – that’s just the way it goes with bread making.
- Mix to a shaggy mess in the bowl, spray lightly with oil and cover with cling film. Leave somewhere warm to prove for upto 4 hours – it will be ready when at least doubled in size but leaving it longer will only improve the flavour.
- When ready to shape and cook, heat your grill to high and put a frying pan with a lid* on medium-hot heat on the hob. (*= a baking tray or piece of foil crumpled around the edges of the pan work too if you don’t have a suitably lidded pan).
- If making one large naan, grease your hands and briefly knead the dough in the bowl only to make it a smooth ball – I say knead with a pinch of salt as it’s so soft, you’ll just be squishing it over and over to form the ball!
- Pat out to a large teardrop shape with the edges a little thicker than the centre and slap onto your pan. You have a moment here to carefully reshape before the dough gets hot if it’s gone a bit wonky during the transfer – not that is a problem and I happily serve naans which look more like a map of Africa than a teardrop! Quickly sprinkle with some water – a pump spray would be handy but I don’t have one so dribble it on with my fingers. Put on the lid.
- If using the topping, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and have it rather to slather onto the bread with a spatula as it will be hot.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes then carefully remove the lid (it will be steamy) and lift the edge of the dough to check it is browning on the bottom. If not, return the lid and cook 1-2 minutes more.
- When ready, slip onto a baking tray, and quickly but gently slather on your garlicky butter. If you aren’t using the topping, I would still spray it with a little oil at this point. Put under the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes until the top is browned, and fully cooked – remove from the grill and wait a second before prodding (maybe wrap your finger in a tea towel first as it will be roasting hot) to check it springs back and there is no doughiness left.
- If making small individual naans, you can make them as large or as small as you please and proceed exactly as stated, cooking in batches. Unlike roti or tortilla, I wouldn’t wrap these breads in a clean tea towel when they are cooked but I would place them on a folded up tea towel or wooden board to serve; leave it 5-10 minutes though or it will burn your fingies are you try to rip it apart hungrily!