Naan Recipe – Learn to make delicious, soft & fluffy naans at home with the help of this detailed step by step photo & video post. Naan is a leavened flatbread mostly baked in a tandoor (clay oven). It is one of the most ordered flatbreads in Indian restaurants & is eaten with a curry or dal (lentils). Restaurants typically serve many kinds of naans with varying thickness, textures & flavors.
Originally naan dough was leavened using a bread starter that was left from the previous batches. This is very much similar to the way we make yogurt using a starter.
In the modern days, yeast & other leavening agents have replaced the bread starter. So most restaurants either use yeast or another leavening agent like baking powder & baking soda.
If you order naan in Indian restaurants you may not find the texture & flavor to be the same in every place. Each place may have their own formula to make these. So they taste and smell so different.
Here I have shared 2 different ways to make the dough & 2 different ways to toast them. So this post will help you make the kind of naans you love!
2 ways to make dough
Each one of us have a different acquired taste for naans and would love them with a particular texture and flavor. Choose the one that suits your taste:
1.Without Yeast – Most often I make naans following this method for 2 reasons. First one – no wait time. Make the dough, then straight away roll and toast them. They are done under 30 mins.
Second reason is to avoid yeast. This method uses baking powder and baking soda (optional) as a substitute to yeast.
2.With yeast – If you love yeast breads, their flavor & the fluffy chewy texture then this will be the one you will love. But it does take time to make naan with yeast as the dough needs to rise.
I have a little kid who loves the soft & chewy texture of the yeast naan so sometimes I make this way. This dough is great to make naanizza with some curry & cheese toppings.
2 ways to toast naan
Naans are always baked in a clay oven known as tandoor which imparts a characteristic flavor and texture. Since we don’t own such ovens, most people toast these on the stovetop.
1. Stovetop – The most common way is to toast it on a pan or tawa on one side and then flip it to cook on the open fire, usually a gas stovetop flame or any other heat source. This gives the look of a tandoori naan but will not give the same texture or flavor.
If you are using a gas stovetop please research if toasting directly on open gas flame has any adverse health effects.
If you are like me who never cooks any kind of foods on open gas flame then you can also flip & toast them on the tawa or follow the oven method which I have shared below.
2. Oven – Grilling naans in a oven is super easy but need to be extremely careful as they get overdone too quickly. If you are a large family then this is the best method.
To get the best crisp bottom and fluffy tops, a pizza stone works very well. If you don’t have a pizza stone then you can still grill these in a cast iron pan or baking tray.
If you are a large family then you can also make a large naan as big as your pizza stone or baking tray. Grill it in one go and slice it when done. This is what I do as it saves a lot of time.
Naans toasted in oven using a pizza stone or cast iron pan rise really well with a crisp bottom & fluffy texture. You can see them in the picture below.
Tips to make naan recipe
Flour: Naan is always made with all-purpose flour (or maida). For health reasons please choose organic or atleast unbleached flour. You can substitute all-purpose flour with wheat flour but you will surely not get the kind of fluffy, soft and chewy texture in your naan.
I have made them with wheat flour several times and can just say they will no where be near to the real naan. However if you are health conscious and eat them often then you can use wheat flour.
Rolling Vs stretching dough: Naan is always hand stretched and not rolled with a rolling pin. Sometimes rolling toughens the dough and suppresses the bubbles making dense flatbreads. Hand stretched naan have a lovely fluffy & light texture.
If you still prefer rolling then rest the rolled naans for a while before toasting them. This helps them to rise and cook upto a lighter & fluffy texture.
Size & thickness: Naans are pretty much made in different shapes and thickness. For fluffy naan breads make them slightly thicker. Do not make them too thick unless you are going to use a good heat source otherwise they remain uncooked.
Variations of naan
Another popular variation is the layered butter naan. To make this, stretch the dough to a large thin layer. Then smear some melted butter and then fold it to make several layers and then stretch it again. These have very thin layers and are quite greasy and soft.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (organic maida)
- ½ cup plain yogurt (curd) (refer note 1)
- 6 tablespoons luke warm milk (¼ cup + 2 tbsps)
- 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 to 1½ teaspoon grated garlic (optional)
For Leavening (or use 1 ¼ tsp yeast)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 5 to 6 garlic cloves sliced or chopped
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- ¼ cup coriander leaves chopped finely
- 1 tsp kalonji seeds (optional)
How to make the recipe
- Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and grated garlic in a mixing bowl. (If using yeast refer notes 2.)
- Pour yogurt, oil and 4 tbsps luke warm milk.
- Mix to make a soft & smooth dough adding more milk as needed. If the amount of milk or water mentioned in the recipe is not sufficient, just sprinkle more water and knead.
- Knead well until the dough turns soft, elastic & pliable. When you press down the dough with your finger, it should dent easily.
- Divide the dough to 6 to 8 parts depending on the size you prefer. (for yeast naan refer notes 2 & 3 below)
- Make smooth balls and keep them covered until you finish rolling the naans.
How to make naan (stovetop)
- Place a ball on the rolling board and begin to stretch them with your fingers or use a rolling pin to roll it.
- If rolling with a pin, then you can lightly sprinkle flour or smear oil. Too much flour will toughen the naans.
- Each naan can be around 8 to 9 inches long and 4 inches wide depending on the size of the dough ball.
- Sprinkle kalonji, sliced garlic and coriander leaves. Press down or roll them gently.
- When you are done with 5 to 6 naans, begin to heat a tawa or pan until hot enough.
- Then transfer the naan to the hot pan. Within a minute or so bubbles will be visible on top.
- With the help of a tong, flip it and cook either on the pan or directly over the stove. Or place a wired rack on the stove and toast it. (check video or step by step photos below).
- When you see brown spots on the naan, remove them to a plate and brush with some butter. Serve them right away.
Naan in oven
- Preheat oven at 250 C or 500 F with a pizza stone or cast iron pan for at least 30 mins in the middle rack. If you do not have a pizza stone or cast iron pan, then keep a baking tray ready (not in the oven).
- Lightly flour a parchment paper and dip your fingers in oil and begin to spread the dough to a neither too thick nor thin naan.
- Sprinkle kalonji seeds, chopped garlic and coriander leaves. Press them down gently with your fingers.
- Smear butter all over naan.
- When the oven is ready gently move the naan along with the parchment paper to the baking tray or pizza stone.
- Alternately sprinkle cornmeal over a pizza peel and carefully transfer the naan to the pizza stone or cast iron pan. (be cautious as the stone or pan is too hot here)
- Grill for just 1 to 1 ½ minutes. As soon as you see bubbles over the naan, immediately move it to the top rack (for broil). It just takes a minute or so for the bubbles to turn golden to brown. Do not go away from the oven.
- If you leave longer they will turn hard. Keep watching and remove them as soon the bubbles on top turns golden to light brown. Brush the naans with butter.
- Serve naan immediately with paneer butter masala, dal makhani or butter chicken.
- Curd or yogurt: If using yeast, you can reduce the yogurt to 4 tbsps & use 4 tbsps more warm milk.
- If using yeast, pour 1/4 cup of luke warm milk to a bowl along with sugar. Stir in the yeast and rest for 15 mins until it activates & turns frothy. Then pour this to the flour along with garlic,salt and oil. Knead the dough very well until soft & elastic. Cover and rest in a warm place until the dough doubles.
- When the dough doubles, punch it one to two times to deflate a bit. Grease your hands and divide the dough to 6 parts. Follow the rest of the recipe.
- If grilling in a baking tray it takes a little longer for the naan to be done as the tray isn’t hot.
- To make the dough you may need more water or milk than mentioned in the recipe. While kneading if the dough is too stiff and hard, sprinkle few drops of water and knead it.
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
Trouble shooting tips
- Naan doesn’t get bubbles – Pan not hot enough, dough not moist enough or improper leavening.
- Naan turns hard – Toasting for too long, not enough moisture in the dough, toasting on low heat or not kneading the dough enough.
Step by step – naan recipe
1.Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar & grated garlic (optional) to a large mixing bowl. If you prefer to use yeast please check the instructions in the recipe card.
2. Give the dry ingredients a good stir. Then pour oil, yogurt and milk.
3. Begin to knead the dough adding more milk as needed. You may need more water or milk than mentioned in the recipe.
4. Knead the dough very well until soft & pliable. It must be soft. Do not over knead as it will make tough naans.
5. Cover and rest for 10 mins. This is optional. Divide the dough to 6 parts and make round balls tucking the edges inside.
6. Meanwhile chop garlic and coriander leaves. Melt butter and set aside.
How to make naan
7. Flour the rolling area very lightly. Too much flour will toughen the naans. Place a dough ball and flatten it. If you are going to hand stretch it, then skip the flour.
8. Roll or stretch the dough to a oval or a elongated shape. Sprinkle the toppings and then lightly roll it again. You can make all the naans and keep them covered with a clean cloth.
9. Heat a tawa. If the pan is not hot enough then the dough will not rise well. So ensure it is hot. Soon you will see bubbles on the naan.
10. If you do not prefer to cook on direct gas flame like me then just flip it on the tawa and cook on the other side as well until completely cooked & slightly charred. Do not press down the naan with a spatula as it will make them dense.
Here I placed a wired rack over the electric stove and flipped it to cook on the other side. I used a electric stove (hotplate) which has a cast iron plate over it. As I mentioned in the intro I do not cook naans on open gas fire.
11. Remove to a serving plate and then brush some butter.
Naans are best served hot, straight out of the tawa or oven. Serve them with any curry or dal.
These are yeast naans made on pizza stove. I made them another day which I grilled in the oven. I have the detailed instructions for grilling in oven in the recipe card.