Making Naan at Home
February 28th, 2008
My family has been working on home-made naan recipes for years. Naan is traditionally made in the tandoor, a clay oven which you’re not likely to have at home in America, so I once thought we would never get them quite right.
Until now! Recently I saw Anjum Anand make naan from scratch on “Indian Food Made Easy,” her BBC television show and her accompanying cookbook. It looked too simple to be true, but I tried it and was delighted. At last we have a recipe for home-made naan, and it contains no yeast.
I describe Anjum Anand as “the Indian Nigella.” She is up front and friendly with a great deal of style in her dishes. Her goal is to show you how delicious Indian food is really not so difficult for home cooks. In fact, a lot of good Indian food can be made easily, even from scratch!
Anjum Anand gets high marks from me personally, too as I loved eating at Cafe Spice in NYC where she was once a chef. She gets props for making a lot of my native Gujarati food, which is rarely found in Indian restaurants and markets in the US where North Indian foods are favored. Anjum Anand takes both traditional and non-traditional approaches, doing whatever it takes to make simple and quality Indian food.
I DVR’d her naan episode of “Indian Food Made Easy” and got to work. Here is her naan recipe, just fine for your regular home oven! I also had fun rolling them out with these traditional Indian rolling pins, which come in various shapes and sizes.
Anjum made topping suggestions, but you can just as well use your imagination and add almost anything you like. I made a few different types, including:
1. Jeera Naan – I sprinkled and pressed cumin seeds into some of my naans. Whole cumin gives a really smokey aroma when toasted, and they toast perfectly without burning as these naan cook fairly quickly.
2. Garlic Naan – I minced garlic, rolled out about a 4″ disc, and folded and rolled it again into a naan. I did not want garlic to burn on the top, so I kept the garlic inside.
3. Cheese Naan – I used shredded pepper jack cheese and followed the same method as garlic naan to fold it in. I sprinkled the top with a few red pepper flakes to distinguish these naan visually.
A few tips Anjum did not mention and my own observations from when I made it:
1. If you prick the naan with a fork before you place it in the oven, it won’t puff up as much. This is what Anjum did on her TV show, but it makes the naan a bit crunchy. I like the puffy version :) Give both a try both ways to see what you like.
2. Fair warning that these do cook quickly, so stay ready. You will figure out how much time your oven needs after you’ve practiced with a few.
3. In Seattle the open air can be too damp, which I later realized as my dough was struggling to rise. Mine did not rise much, but I did knead it a lot! Anjum does say in her recipe that the dough rises, but I find that the key is in the kneading, which she also points out in the actual TV show. You have to knead till the dough is nice and soft! I personally feel that kneading is more important than rising for the end product to turn out nice and soft. The freshness and type of flour might affect this as well.
4. When you crank up your oven to the highest temperature it can reach — mine goes to 500 F (260 C) — everything and anything in the bottom of your oven will burn and smoke. I keep my oven very clean, but at that temperature I still set off my smoke alarms :-P
I always change things around in recipes, but I have to say Anjum Anand’s recipe was just-right. These taste ten times better than what you can find in a store, and you don’t need to order from a restaurant for $2 a piece! I hope you enjoy impressing your friends and family with home-made naan :)
Note: This is not my recipe! I simply followed Anjum’s recipe and tweaked things bit to my liking and environment. If you have questions or concerns about the recipe or what did not work for you, I suggest asking the creator and not me. I liked the results I got!