The Indian and Pakistani yeasted, yogurt-enriched flatbread known as naan is Persian in origin. Traditionally, it’s baked by slapping oblong rounds of dough on the searing walls of a clay tandoor oven—the cooking surface contributes flavor in the form of heavily browned blisters and charred zones, like the leopard spotting on the underside of a Neapolitan pizza. Since we assume you don’t have a tandoor around the house, we suggest two options for cooking: a cast-iron skillet and a backyard grill. The differences are both visual and textural (our skillet naan turns out dense and chewy, with dark blisters; our grill-striped BBQ naan is fluffy, with a crisper crust than the skillet naan’s). Both yield great additions to northern-style Indian meals.
We adapted this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey.
- Yield: 12 breads
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
- Active: 1 hr
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 7 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups plain full-fat yogurt
- 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
To make the dough:
- Heat the milk in a medium saucepan until it’s warm, about 105°F to 115°F. Add the sugar and yeast, and set aside until the yeast is dissolved and frothy, about 15 minutes.
- Sift the measured flour, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and set aside. Add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, the yogurt, and eggs to the yeast mixture and stir, then add this to the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix, then use your hands to form a ball of dough.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes (you might need to add a little extra flour to get it smooth, with a nice sheen). Massage the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil onto the ball and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch down the risen dough and knead again, then divide into 12 equal balls (I used a scale for accuracy). Lay a damp dishtowel over the dough balls so they won’t dry out.
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll out 1 ball at a time. First flatten the ball with your hand. Using a rolling pin (or whatever you prefer—I use a wine bottle), roll each ball into a rough teardrop shape—roll it back and forth without changing the direction of the roller, until it’s roughly as thin as pizza dough (about 1/4 inch).
- To bake the naan, you have two options: on a propane grill, or in a cast-iron skillet.
Cooking in a cast-iron skillet:
- Place a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until it’s smoking hot. Place a piece of dough on the surface: It should start bubbling within 30 seconds. Keep cooking until bubbles have formed all over the top, about 60 to 90 seconds. Flip and cook until done, about 30 to 60 seconds.
Cooking on an outdoor grill:
- Turn the flames on your outdoor propane grill to high. When it’s hot, place the dough directly on the grates—within 1 minute the top surface will begin to bubble. Grill until bubbles have formed all over the top, then flip, close the lid, and cook until done, about 1 minute.