If you’ve ever been to an Indian restaurant, you’ve most likely enjoyed a side of naan. It’s an incredible bread that you can top with a variety of flavours (garlic and/or cilantro are commonly used) and can be eaten plain or dipped into the sauce of your entree. Given how closely related to pita the bread is, we opted to use it as the base for Indian Mutton Gyros…and we also decided to stuff it with baby spinach for an added layer of fun and nutrition.
The bread’s fluffiness is a direct product of two things: 1. High heat cooking, and 2. Yogurt, which is a staple of Indian cooking and is often even used as a marinade. The yogurt was easy, but the high heat of a tandoori oven was harder to replicate since we…well, we don’t have a tandoori oven. So, we turned to our old friend, cast iron, which filled in nicely in a pinch.
The best part about this dish is that you can easily make a large batch by scaling up the ingredients (if you go with a batch 3-4x the size of ours, a stand mixer will work well so you don’t have to do everything by hand) and then cook and freeze for later whenever you need naan in a pinch.
Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Ingredients (for 2 pieces)
- 2/3 cup of all purpose flour (We needed an extra tablespoon as well)
- 1/2 teaspoon of active dry yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon of white sugar
- 3 tablespoons of warm water
- 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt
- Garlic Powder
- Optional: Baby Spinach
- Mix your yeast and sugar together in a bowl or measuring cup, and slowly add your warm water. Let sit for about 5 minutes until the water becomes nice and foamy on top.
- While your yeast is activating, pour your garlic powder and flour into a large bowl, and form it into a volcano shape.
- When the yeast/water is foamy, pour it into the cone of your flour volcano, and add your yogurt in the middle as well.
- With a fork, start folding your ingredients together to combine.
- When the dough has come together a bit, it’s time to go at it with your hands (we donned food grade gloves for this purpose). Knead and prod for bout 5 minutes to activate the gluten structure until everything comes together in a nice tacky but not sticky ball (it should easily hold its shape). If you need more flour, knead that in here.
- Give another mixing bowl a quick oil spray, and place your dough ball sit in that (covered with plastic wrap) for about an hour until it doubles in size.
- At the end of your rise time, start heating your cast iron pan, and cut your dough into two (or more if you’re working with a big batch of dough) pieces. Lightly flour a clean surface, and working one at a time, roll your dough into your desired shape and size. (We rolled ours extra flat so we could put spinach on and fold it over itself).
- If adding spinach or other filling, place on part of your dough (see pictures below), fold over onto itself, and flatten with a rolling pin again.
- When the cast iron pan is hot, and your first two naans are done, add some butter to the pan, and let it heat.
- When the butter is hot, add your naan, and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes before flipping (it should be nicely golden brown) and letting cook for another 2-3 minutes. If you have a kitchen fan, it’s a good idea to turn this on, as towards the end, you do get a little smoke. Another way to avoid the smoke is to add more butter right after the flip.
- Continue with the rest of your naan.
- When all of the naan is cooked, you can either eat right away, let cool, brush with some butter and seasonings/garlic/cilantro, and heat in the oven, or freeze for another day.
- Plate, devour, and enjoy!