OMG I did it!
I made garlic naan!
A full stack of warm, homemade garlic naan
Two or three weeks ago I made homemade naan for the first time when Miss R & Lil’E=MC^2 came over for lunch. It was an acceptable first try, but it wasn’t quite 100% to my standards for naan. It was too puffy and reminiscent of store bought naan, which I find at best more like a really thick pita bread with garlic flavouring. It didn’t have any of the slightly charred and fat crispy bubbles that are more visible on a “real” naan.
There is one takeout Indian place that I love that has the best garlic naan I have ever eaten and it’s the benchmark level that I hold my naan creations up to. It is a rather high benchmark, but damnit, if I make naan, I want it tasting as good as, if not better than my favourite restaurant! I don’t want an imitation of what you get in the store, that stuff just isn’t right.
Lo and behold, check out my first properly bubbling naan:
First naan of the day properly puffing up in the pan
I have to say, I am immensely proud of how they turned out this time around. I think the success of this batch is because I divided the remaining dough (frozen from two weeks ago then thawed) into smaller portions, thereby making the naan much thinner when rolled out and they puffed up so much better when I spritzed them with water, which made proper steam bubbles.
Technique-wise, it was exactly the same as making homemade flour tortillas, with the exception of the spritzing the rolled dough with water before placing facedown on the screaming hot cast iron pan. Then you wait til the dough puffs up and gets beautifully browned on the first side, then spritz the dough again with water and flip it over so the steam bubble pockets get nicely charred and crispy, leaving the rest of the naan wonderfully soft and pliable. The only thing that you must, must, must remember to do when you pull it straight off the heat is to brush the naan with garlicky ghee while it’s still warm so the bread will absorb all the wonderful flavour.
Remember to keep everything warm while you cook the rest of your naan and then tear in & dip with your fave curries!
The recipe I used came from Use Real Butter, who apparently found the recipe from the NY Times. I don’t know why her recipe specifically stood out from all the other recipes I’ve read on the web, but for some reason it did, and it worked perfectly.
A few things to note: I made the dough entirely in my stand mixer because I just don’t have the energy or the strength to make bread doughs by hand anymore and instead of letting the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, I threw the whole thing into the fridge overnight, pulled the dough out the next morning and divided it all in half — sticking one half in the freezer for later use. The half that I made right away, I divided into six pieces and let sit at room temperature for its second rise. The freezer half that I made today I let thaw overnight in the fridge, divided the dough into 8 pieces and then proceeded as if it were freshly made.
Instead of the plain yoghurt, I used a greek yoghurt with honey because that’s what I had on hand in the fridge and I figured the extra sweetness wouldn’t do the recipe any harm. Do make sure you have ghee on hand for brushing the naan with garlic, it makes a huge difference and butter really does impart a completely different flavour. Obviously if you don’t care one way or the other about butter/ghee then disregard the comment, but I would highly recommend it. And just a note on garlic — for the naan dough, I use chopped fresh garlic, but for the ghee, I used minced garlic from a jar because I felt that it would be easier to brush onto the naan once it came off the heat.
2 1/2 tsp yeast (1 pkg)
2 Tbsp sugar
4 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 large egg
2 Tbsp oil (plus extra for the bowl)
3/4 cup warm water
3 Tbsp ghee (or melted, unsalted butter)
2 cloves garlic, minced
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand until foamy.
Place flour, salt and baking powder in stand mixer with a dough hook. Mix to blend. Add yeast mixture, milk, yogurt, egg, oil and 3/4 cup warm water. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Dough should be soft but not too sticky. You can add extra flour but only if it’s absolutely needed.
Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, spot until doubled in size or toss into the fridge overnight, minus the towel.
Punch down dough and divide into 16 pieces. Roll into balls and place them on a lightly floured baking sheet, covered with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Let rise again until doubled in size.
Mix warmed ghee with minced garlic and set aside with pastry brush.
Set a cast iron pan on medium high heat.
To Cook Naan: Roll out a dough ball on a lightly floured work surface, very thinly, into a disk about the size of your hand. When pan is screaming hot, lightly spritz naan with water and quickly place wet side down in pan. Cook until naan is puffed and browned, 1-2 minutes. Spritz top of naan lightly with water and flip, cooking 1-2 more minutes until puffed areas are blistered and brown.
Remove naan from pan, quickly brush tops with garlic-ghee mixture and keep warm in a low oven until ready to eat.
Repeat with remaining dough.