Soft and pillowy with a plentitude of butter, garlic, and salt — warm, fresh-baked naan is such a treat. If you were making it at home in the Indian or Pakistani tradition, you might cook it in a coal-fired tandoor oven — where intense heat and the dough’s moisture work together to create the billowy texture and char that define the flatbread. But it’s possible to make delicious naan right on the stovetop.
The secret to its texture is whole milk and full-fat yogurt, which inhibit the dough’s gluten structures so that the flatbread cooks up crisp yet tender. For this recipe, we press the garlic into the dough — so we don’t lose it in the pan — and then swab the naan with butter before setting it in a hot cast-iron skillet. Once you flip the naan, a lid keeps air and steam from the dough in, mimicking the work of the tandoor.
We love how the butter and garlic infuse the bread and the beautiful deep brown spots that form as it chars on the cast-iron. A wonderfully fragrant steam billows from the pan when you lift the lid, as toasty as it is garlicky.
The naan finishes with more butter, a sprinkle of salt, and chopped cilantro. Take a bite and it’s garlicky, salty, and tangy. We could eat it plain all day, but it’s even better with a meal — just what you want to mop up bits of stew and curry.
Our tip: Omit the garlic if you want plain naan. You can also swap in dried fruit or cashews.
In a medium bowl, whisk together active dry yeast, sugar, and water. Let sit for 10 minutes or until slightly foamy.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
Add milk and yogurt to the yeast mixture and whisk together until fully combined, then stir into dry ingredients.
Knead the dough until it forms a smooth and soft ball, about 2 minutes. Generously grease a large bowl with oil and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times. Then use a bench scraper to cut it into 12 portions. Roll each piece into an oval about 6” wide and ¼” thick.
Sprinkle each naan with 1 tsp minced garlic and gently press it into the dough, making sure the garlic is fully secured.
Heat a cast-iron over medium-high heat. Working one portion at a time, brush the dough with the melted butter until fully coated. Place into the skillet, garlic side up, and cook for 1 minute until the dough puffs up. Flip and cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 1 minute more, or until heavy browning in spots.
Remove the naan from the skillet, brush both sides with butter, and sprinkle with salt. Transfer the cooked naan to a large, towel-lined pot and cover to keep fresh. Repeat steps 7 and 8 until all the naan are cooked.
Garnish the naan with chopped cilantro and serve hot.
Recipe source: Food & Wine