What's better than warm, chewy bread, slightly charred (my FAVORITE), lightly brushed with butter? Not many things, which is why you need to make homemade naan as soon as possible!
PIZZA DOUGH --> NAAN DOUGH
Once I got the hang of making homemade pizza dough, there was a natural progression to trying my hand at naan. I appreciate the utility of fresh, warm bread paired with soup, or my favorite Lentil Chickpea Stew with Tomato + Coconut Sauce, that helps me get every last bit of broth of tomato coconut sauce.
After a couple attempts of not so great naan, I did some research and spent some time practicing. I came up with three things that will lead you to great naan every single time.
KEY #1: YOGURT
One of the first things I learned is that yogurt is a MUST. Unfortunately, yogurt is something I rarely purchase (unless I am making Ode to Rustica: Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies). I am lactose intolerant, most yogurt is full of sugar, and all those little plastic cups floating around the ocean give me nightmares.
I recently found a product that addresses each of those concerns.
Kite Hill has a creamy, sweet, and slightly tart almond milk based yogurt that we are obsessed with. My favorite is strawberry, it has the perfect balance of small mellow, ripened berries. I bought two cups at Whole Foods because they were on sale. What a delight to find out their packaging is specifically designed to inform their customers about the benefits of almond milk versus dairy, INSERT DRUM ROLL HERE, and is recycled. Obviously, I saved the clear plastic containers to use as plant starters. You can see the Paris Island Cos Romaine lettuces that have WAY outgrown their cute little starter pots.
Adding dairy, and therefore adding fat, to your dough will make your bread softer. Naan is supposed to be flexible, not sturdy like pizza, and the yogurt helps with that.
KEY #2: BREAD FLOUR
Bread flour has more protein and gluten than regular flour and lends a chewier, softer texture. The dough feels easier to manage as well.
Yogurt plus + bread flour = the perfect airy, chewy, stretchy naan. When dairy is added to the dough, it modifies the structure of protein and changes the way gluten is formed. When I use regular flour, I don't get the bubbles or the airy pockets like I do with bread flour. Those bubbles are responsible for some of the best charred flavor a piece of naan has to offer.
KEY #3: WEIGH YOUR INGREDIENTS
Another key to success is using a scale to weigh your ingredients, especially when it comes to baking bread! This will ensure you get the exact amount of flour and will lead to the perfect texture of fluffy naan bread. Scooping flour straight out of the flour bag (which is what I do probably 75% of the time, especially if I'm in a hurry) can lead to discrepancies as large as 2 to 3 extra tablespoons of flour which can cause your naan to be pretty dry.
KEY #4: BUBBLES
The third key to success is giving the naan enough time to cook. Do not flip until you see bubbles popping up. If you don't see bubbles on your first naan, try turning the heat up. Use a cast iron skillet if you can.
I was pretty proud of those bubbles in the photos above!
BEST NAAN RECIPE
Jamie Oliver's recipe for Incredible Naan Breads is the best one I've come across. It is EASY and produces consistent results. Oliver suggests brushing each naan with ghee, but I didn't think that was necessary, they are good without the extra ghee! I modified his recipe slightly by using coconut oil, almond milk yogurt, and coconut milk.
Once you get the hang of this recipe, try adding herbs or playing around with the kinds of flour you use. Until then, be sure to add yogurt to your dough, use bread flour, weigh your ingredients if you can, and make sure you have bubbles before flipping the naan to cook the other side.
Naan can be paired with almost everything. Dip it in hummus or olive oil with some herbs, pair it with soup, or put some eggs on it. My favorite thing to eat it with is Lentil Chickpea Stew with Tomato + Coconut Sauce.
Now that you have a fool proof recipe and 4 keys to the perfect naan, you are ready to get baking This is the perfect recipe for a chilly Spring evening! Try it out! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! Make sure you're following me on Instagram @corrielanderson, post a photo of your beautiful creation, tag me, and use #itsallofit!
Easy Vegan Homemade Naan
Recipe Author: slightly adapted by Jamie Oliver's Incredible Naan Breads
Recipe Type: Vegetarian, Dinner, Lunch
Serves: 6 - 8
- 3.5 grams or 1 ½ teaspoon active yeast
- 1 teaspoon runny honey
- 125 ml warm water
- 250 g bread flour (about 2 cups)
- OR 150 g bread flour + 100 g spelt flour* (1 cup + 2 tablespoons bread flour and 1 cup spelt flour)
- 3 tablespoons yogurt (you can use coconut or almond milk yogurt)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (or butter)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Add yeast, honey, and water to a large bowl. Let it sit for about five minutes, or until mixture gets foamy. Add bread and spelt flour to the yeast mixture, along with yogurt and butter. Use the bread hook on your kitchen aid mixer, or knead with your hands for five minutes. The mixture will be sticky. If your mixture is too dry, add water in teaspoon amounts. If you’re using a kitchen aid mixer, the dough ball should pull cleanly away from the bowl. Cover bowl with a moist towel and set aside for 1 hour and 30 minutes. While you’re waiting for the naan dough to rise, make my Lentil Chickpea Stew with Tomato + Coconut Sauce so you can dip the naan into it. When the dough has doubled in size, divide it into 6 - 8 balls. If it is extra sticky, you can VERY lightly sprinkle some flour onto the dough before you divide it. Sprinkle some flour onto a clean surface and stretch out the dough into an oval shape. Heat up a cast iron skillet, or large nonstick frying pan, over medium-high heat. Add naan dough and cook for 5 - 6 minutes. Wait until you see bubbles before flipping to cook the other side. Brush with melted coconut oil, melted butter, or ghee and sprinkle with sea salt. Put the finished naan in a warm oven while you cook the rest. Serve with Lentil Chickpea Stew with Tomato + Coconut Sauce or your favorite curry.
*If you use spelt flour, you might need a teensy bit more water. Add water by the teaspoon.