We were recently invited to a dinner party that involved dishes from a variety of cultures and places, sort of focused on North Africa and the Fertile Crescent. We brought naan. Pictured is a triple recipe to generously serve ten people:
I’ve made naan or naan-like things a number of times and basically winged it with decent-to-good results. This bake was for a discerning crowd so I wanted to use an actual recipe as a starting point to help ensure things didn’t go too far off the rails.
Ultimately I chose between Kenji’s Grilled Naan recipe on Serious Eats and a King Arthur website recipe. Kenji’s recipe calls for using an outdoor grill, so I mostly went with the King Arthur recipe because we were cooking on a grill pan instead of live fire. I used Kenji’s recommendation of bread flour instead of a mix of flours.
First, the King Arthur formula as written:
180g King Arthur AP Flour, 90g King Arthur Bread Flour, 142g warm water, 71g Full-Fat Greek Yogurt, 28g melted ghee or butter, 1-1/2 teaspoons Active Instant Dry Yeast, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt. Full recipe here. …After baking brush with butter and top with nigella seeds and cilantro.
My slight modification that includes honey and uses Baker’s Percentages:
270g King Arthur Bread Flour, 142g warm water (52% of flour weight), 71g Full-Fat Greek Yogurt (26%), 28g melted ghee (10%), 1-1/2 teaspoons Active Instant Dry Yeast, 2/3 teaspoon honey, 5g (scant 2%) salt. Combine all in a mixer for 6 minutes on low speed.
- Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes.
- Divide into ~100g balls. (The original recipe calls for 65g, which I felt were too small for that event.) Let the dough balls rest 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat grill pan to medium/medium-high.
- Very lightly oil a work surface roll out a dough ball to 8-10″ long. Then roll the next ball as the one on the stove is cooking. Resist the urge to roll out very thinly — the center may burn instead of bubbling.
- Bake the first side about 45 seconds — until it the dough bubbles, then flip and bake another 45 seconds or until the naan is just cooked through. (Cooking them too long makes them tough.)
- After baking brush with ghee and top with minced chives.
For transport we put a cooling rack on the bottom of a sheet tray, then piled on layers of naan with each level separated by parchment paper. We wrapped the entire thing in foil. Shortly before dinner the naan was reheated in a low oven while still wrapped in the foil.
I’d never made ghee, but it’s super easy. There are tons of recipes online but basically you just heat butter until warm/very warm, skim the surface until the solids drop out, strain. Done. We heated a couple of smashed garlic cloves in the finished ghee for a little background sense of garlic.
The naan was well received at dinner, so that part went well. I think the King Arthur recipe calls for too much liquid — I wound up adding a few tablespoons of flour and then a pinch of salt to keep the balance. If I had it to do over again I would have held back about 1/3 of the water initially to see how the dough shaped up.
I sort of feel like that’s not-uncommon in bread baking and recipe writing — too much liquid in the formula that then combines with generous amounts of bench flour to compensate. As a rule I try to do the opposite and incorporate as little raw flour as possible, which then also helps maintain the balance of the recipe. That’s why in Step #4 it calls for a lightly oiled surface, rather than floured or heavily floured.
Ten people ate twelve of the fifteen naan. Little or No Leftovers = Successful Recipe. I’ll use this one again.