I love naan! It’s the first thing I think about when I know I’m getting indian food. It’s the Indian equivalent to Mexican chips. Naan is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread found in the cuisines mainly of Western Asia, South Asia, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Caribbean. And if you have a pizza oven you’ll love this recipe!
When you may look at the directions, you may think that it’s not very easy, but trust me, as a girl who is nothing close to being a baker, even I can do it. There are several essential things to note, however. The first is to pay attention to the kind of yeast you’re using. If using active dry yeast and instant (or rapid-rise) yeast, you can use them interchangeably in recipes, but active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in water before using, while you can mix instant yeast right into the dough. Also, instant yeast doesn’t have to be proofed first.
“Proofed” means sitting in a warm, happy place, allowing the dough to rise. Instant yeast may also be marketed and sold as rapid- or quick-rise yeast. Enzymes and other additives are included to make the dough rise faster. With this yeast, you can skip the dough’s first rise and shape the loaves right after kneading. “Active” describes any dry yeast that needs to be activated before use, hence the warm water. You can use either. I used the active dry because it’s what I have on hand.
The other thing to note is the pan you use. You can use a regular cast iron pan, or if you’re like me, and make your tortillas, you will want to use a comal. The comal is a Mexican style grill or griddle, and unlike a regular cast iron pan, it is thin. It heats up efficiently and retains the heat, making it a favorable tool for recipes that require high, stable heat. Hence, the perfect pan for naan!
- 1/2 cup warm water or vegan milk (not hot or it will kill the yeast)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 1 teaspoon organic vegan cane sugar
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup plain dairy-free yogurt or coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Cilantro, minced
- Measure warm water or milk, add yeast and sugar. Stir and set aside until foamy (about 10 minutes.)
- Meanwhile, add flour, salt, and baking powder to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Once the yeast mixture is foaming, add the vegan yogurt or cream and oil, and stir to combine. Add to dry ingredients. I used a wooden spoon to stir – the dough will be sticky.
- Turn onto a floured surface (I used my countertop) and knead just enough flour to the dough to form into a loose ball (about 2-3 minutes). Add a bit more flour if too sticky. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Place back in mixing bowl and rub with a bit of oil, turn to coat.
- Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm place for at least 2 hours (I put mine in the oven since my oven has a proof feature which sets the range to 100°.) You can also heat your oven to its lowest setting, turn off the heat, and put the bowl in the cooling oven.
- Remove dough from bowl and turn onto a floured surface. Knead for 30 seconds (adding additional flour if sticky). Then divide into eight even pieces using a knife or pastry cutter.
- Lightly knead each ball until it forms a loose ball and place it on parchment paper. Repeat until each piece of dough is formed into a ball. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Prep cilantro and/or other fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme.
- When the dough has rested, begin heating a cast-iron pan (I used a comal) over medium heat.
- Roll out into an oval or circle with a rolling pin. Carefully flip dough and pat with a bit of water to prevent sticking to the pan. Press the garlic and herbs/cilantro into the dough until it sticks. Then place the wet-side down on the hot pan.
- Cook until the edges of the dough look dry and it’s beginning to bubble. Then flip the dough with a spatula and cook until the underside is brown.
- Repeat until all naan is cooked.
- Brush each flatbread with vegan butter; top with sesame seeds, minced garlic, or fresh herbs.
- Serve immediately.