I remember my first experience at an Indian restaurant. A friend of mine had recommended an Indian place a few miles away from where I lived in Mill Creek, so my ex and I traipsed down to have a bite.
Two things really stick out in my mind: the heavenly garlic naan I couldn't stop eating and a beautiful roasted tomato chutney that completely changed the way I thought of tomatos.
The other day, Closet Cooking posted an easy recipe for pan-fried naan that looked delicious. It does require some ghee, which is a story in and of itself, but otherwise, the recipe is pretty simple. While trolling around looking at other naan recipes, I found that the most common method seems to be broiling, preferably on a hot pizza stone. Since we have both a great cast iron pan and a pizza stone, I figured I'd try making them two separate ways to see which came out better.
The most important difference, I'd say, between stone baked and pan-fried is not to brush the naan with ghee prior to cooking, since any fats will leach into the stone and cause problems later and instead, brush it with ghee after it comes out of the oven.
In the end, they both came out lovely but the stone-baked naan won my heart. It was lighter, fluffier and moister -- my cast iron seemed to suck out the moisture from the dough, leaving flatter, stiffer naan. I think I rolled mine out too thin too, which didn't help. Both tasted good but I'll stick to broiling in the future.
There were a lot of recipes I saw that I wanted to try. Some called for caraway seeds, roasted garlic, sauteed onions, sesame seeds, salt and more to top the raw dough before it went into the oven. Naan is definitely a tasty canvas to explore.
Recipe revised February 2010.
Garlic Naan [printable recipe]
Adapted from Closet Cooking
Makes 8 - 16 naan, depending how you slice it
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 cup warm water (105F-110F)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 tbsp ghee or melted unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp plain yogurt
- 1 head (about 7 - 8 medium cloves) roasted garlic, minced OR
- 1 tsp minced dried garlic + 1 tsp granulated garlic powder
- additional ghee, for brushing
- additional salt, for sprinkling
Stir together yeast and water, let sit for 10 minutes. Mix in salt and flour, then add ghee and yogurt. Add additional flour or another tablespoon of ghee as necessary to bring the dough together. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes in my stand mixer). Place in an oiled, covered bowl and let rise for about 90 minutes in a warm place or until doubled. Punch down the dough and knead for 10 minutes on a floured, clean surface. Divide the dough out into 8 or more balls, then roll out1 into elongated ovals.
To pan-fry: Brush one side of a rolled out naan piece with ghee and sprinkle with a little salt. In a hot skillet or griddle, lay it ghee-side down. Brush the other side with ghee. Flip after about 2 - 3 minutes. It should be turning nicely brown, with darker spots (similar to tortillas). Remove.
To stone-broil: Turn the oven to broil and preheat with the stone in the lower third of the oven (about 20 minutes, you want that stone hot). Flip a naan or two onto the stone. Wait 90 seconds and check. It should have brown spots, if not, wait another 30 seconds. (Once you do one or two, you'll know how hot your oven is and how long to wait, but it won't be more than 2 or 3 minutes per naan.) Grab the naan with tongs and remove, flipping another onto the stone to cook. Brush cooked naan with ghee and sprinkle a little kosher salt over it.
- I rolled mine out to 1/4" thickness which was great for the broiled and not so good for the fried. If I did it over, I'd let the fried ones be a bit under 1/2" and I bet they'd come out much better.