I did NOT grow up eating Indian food, to say the least. In fact, I don’t think I could have named a traditional or popular Indian dish if a gun was held to my head. I was aware of the country India, and yes, I assumed they had food of course, but that’s about all the thought I gave to the issue. What can I say, Indian food just wasn’t a thing in Dallas suburbs in the ‘80’s.
Since moving to New York, I have discovered Indian food, and have fallen in love. There’s an Indian take-out place in our neighborhood we frequent, we eat out at Indian restaurants from time to time, and I’ve started cooking it at home. And though I didn’t know naan bread from a hole in the wall growing up, now I simply cannot eat Indian food without it. It’s become one of my favorite things on earth.
So when I made these delicious Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks a couple weeks ago, of course naan bread had to accompany them, and I decided to be brave and make it myself. I’m extremely comfortable baking with batters. I grew up occasionally helping my mom make her banana bread, and when I first got into cooking and baking, I definitely gravitated toward easy cakes and quick breads. Yeast breads? That’s another story.
Those have come into my culinary repertoire much later. With practice I’m definitely feeling more and more like a boss of the yeast these days, but trust me, it didn’t start out that way. Oh, I have some screw-up stories. But this naan bread is not one of them. It turned out looking and tasting authentic and amazing. I was very proud.
A few recipe notes: I don’t have a tandoor oven. (Shocking, I know.) A grill heated to very high will work just fine, indoor or outdoor. Don’t skip the brushing with butter part, or your naan won’t be as authentic. If you have leftovers, reheat them in the microwave. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you reheat them in the oven or on the grill, they dry out a little. The microwave will give you that soft texture that will be *almost* like fresh off the grill.
Source: lightly adapted from Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay
1 (1/4 oz.) packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs Greek yogurt
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp kosher salt
4 to 4 ½ cups bread flour (sub in all-purpose if desired), plus more for dusting and kneading
8 tbs unsalted butter, melted
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer for about 10 minutes, until frothy. Add the sugar, yogurt, egg, salt, and 4 cups bread flour. Mix together with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed, just until combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Put the dough in a well-oiled large bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and set aside to rise for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
Gently press down the dough and pinch off the dough into 8 even pieces. Roll those pieces into balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size again, 30 to 60 minutes. (Recipe says 30 minutes, I let mine go closer to 1 hour).
Once the dough is ready, preheat your grill or grill pan to high (for direct grilling, if using an outdoor charcoal grill).
Roll out 1 ball of dough into a thin circle. If using an outdoor grill, lightly oil the grates. If using an indoor grill pan, this step isn’t necessary.
Brush the dough circle on one side with some melted butter. Put the dough on the grill surface buttered side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until puffy and lightly browned. While it’s grilling, brush the uncooked side with butter. Flip the bread and cook until browned another 2-3 minutes. Remove the bread from the grill and continue until all the naans have been grilled. Serve immediately for best results.