Call me basic, but garlic naan is my favorite part of going out for Indian. Whether it’s the fluffy version at the understated (and definitely underrated) Saffron Grill in NoPa or my fourth order of the thin, glistening-with-ghee slices at Keeva in the Richmond District (both on the map - look under Indian!), I am a sucker for that chewy flatbread baked in a piping hot tandoor oven.
When cooking Indian (or something vaguely like it) at home, most of us opt for the frozen version, popping the rigid disks into the oven where they somehow transform into a half decent side dish. After all, naan is really just a vehicle to sop up excess curry and drag through raita, right? Wrong. Naan, made at home, is a total showstopper, and is crazy easy to pull off too.
You don’t need a tandoor oven. You don’t need a lot of time. You don’t even need any special ingredients. When made from scratch, your naan will be chewy, soft on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside, and decorated with those illusive brown bubbles all over. Basted with melted butter and sprinkled with chopped garlic and cilantro, this stuff is pretty irresistible.
Use excess dough to make flatbread pizzas (top with any sauce, cheese and veg and stick in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes) or save it in the freezer for next time!
P.S. You can find all the ingredients for this recipe at a conventional grocery store, but those of you in SF should check out Jai Ho Indian Grocery Store on Fillmore for a wide variety of imported Indian ingredients as well. From gallon-sized jars of ghee (may I one day have the courage to take you home with me) to fresh curry leaves (used notably in Yotam Ottolenghi’s curry laksa recipe in Plenty More) to the addictive crunchy lentils pictured above (which I really love adding to simple salads!), there’s a ton to explore.
Ingredients (makes ~12 flatbreads)
¼ cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
¾ cups warm whole milk
¾ cups plain yogurt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stick melted butter
8 cloves minced garlic
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Combine yeast, sugar and water in a glass measuring cup and stir it up. Let rest for ten minutes. The mixture should be very foamy.
Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer). Create a well in the center of the flour.
Whisk warm milk and yogurt into yeast mixture.
Pour into the well of the flour bowl. Mix until combined (use the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer).
Turn the dough onto a clean surface and knead for 4-5 minutes. Or, kneed with the dough hook on the mixer on medium speed for the same length of time.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place somewhere warm and let rise for one hour. The dough should have doubled in size.
Turn the dough onto a clean, floured surface. Using a dough scraper or knife, cut off a piece a little larger than the size of a tennis ball. Roll into a ball, then repeat with the rest of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll each ball out into an ovular shape. Alternatively, use your fists to pull the dough apart as if you were preparing a pizza.
Heat a large, heavy bottom skillet (I prefer cast iron) over high heat. Brush each flatbread with a little melted butter and place in the skillet. Cook until large bubbles form on the surface, then flip and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
Brush the finished pieces with more butter, then top with chopped garlic and cilantro.
Enjoy fresh! Leftovers heat up well in a toaster oven too.