What is garlic naan?
This article is about making garlic naan, the Indian flatbread baked in a large clay oven called tandoor. The naan dough is flavored with chopped garlic, coriander leaves, and kalonji seeds and brush with melted butter. These additional ingredients elevate an ordinary flatbread to the next level and taste so good that you don’t even need to serve with curries.
How to make naan with the tandoor
It is entertaining to watch how the master makes garlic naan. He flips and swings the dough by throwing it between their palms and finally lands perfectly on the naan pillow. Then he will hold the naan pillow and slam the dough against the inner wall of the tandoor. The heat from the tandoor’s wall will puff up the naan, and the chamber’s heat generated by the wood fire will quickly brown and crisp up the large blisters.
Lastly, he will remove the naan with a unique pair of naan scraper and hook.
How to make garlic naan at home?
Can we make garlic naan at home without the clay oven (tandoor)? Fortunately, there is a way to replicate the whole process with only a gas stove and a cast iron tawa or pan at home.
Below is a detailed explanation of how to make naan at home. I will make my favorite garlic naan, but it applies to all the variations of naans.
If you have an intense craving to relish this garlic naan at home, keep reading. This soft, pillowy flatbread is easier to make than you think.
Ingredients for garlic naan
Ingredients for making the naan dough:
Most of my naans are made with all-purpose flour, but whole wheat flour, bread flour, or a blend are also suitable. However, naan prepared with whole wheat flour will not be as soft as those naans made with all-purpose flour.
Yeast and baking soda. You need a leavening agent to make the naan soft and fluffy. Naan is traditionally made with yeast. Nowadays, many people prefer using baking soda to simplify the process. The amount I use of either yeast or baking soda is 1g for every 100g of flour. My choice is to use baking soda because I am writing a quick naan recipe.
Yogurt is the ingredient that makes the flavor of naan so distinctive. I use one part of yogurt for four parts of flour to get the optimum taste for my naans.
Milk helps to make the naan soft and fluffy. I do not use milk in this recipe because I want to write an easy naan recipe. You can replace part of the water in the recipe with milk to make naans with a richer flavor.
Although eggs are used in many bread recipes, they are mostly not included in the naan recipes because many Indians are vegan. So, by default, most of the naan recipes are without eggs.
Oil. You may use any type of vegetable oil, but ghee & butter are my choices. Substitute it with olive oil if you want to make vegan naan. A teaspoon of oil for every 100g of flour should be enough.
Salt is optional because most often, naan is eaten together with curries. However, there are times you might just want to eat them alone, so it is OK to add a pinch of salt to it.
Sugar may not be necessary, but a small amount will make it tastier.
Water. I use 25g of yogurt and 40g (or ml) of water for every 100g of all-purpose flour in this recipe. The amount of liquid (water + yogurt) should be 65g for every 100g of flour. This measurement serves only as a guideline because the amount of water may differ slightly for different types of flour.
Ingredients for the topping for garlic naan
Chopped garlic and coriander leaves are the main ingredients of the topping.
Apply some melted butter on the garlic naan while it is still warm.
Kalonji seeds add flavor and improve the appearance of the garlic naan. However, kalonji seeds are optional as it may be hard to get in certain places. It has different names in English- Nigella seeds, black seeds, black cumin, to name a few. You can read here for more information.
Homemade naan – Step-by-step guide
The dough of garlic naan is the same as any other naan variants, so you can use the plain naan dough to make butter naan, paneer naan, and others.
1. Making the naan dough
The method is similar to other bread. Here are the steps.
Combine the ingredients
- Measure and combine the all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
- Make a small hole at the center of the dry ingredients and add the yogurt.
- Add the baking soda to the yogurt and gently mix them. The acid in the yogurt will make the baking soda active.
- Then add the oil and start combining all the ingredients with a fork or spatula.
- Measure the amount of water accurately, then pour into the bowl.
- Combine all the ingredients by stirring in one direction. Eventually, it will clump together and pulls away from the bowl.
Knead the dough
- Transfer the dough to a flat surface and start kneading it. The dough is quite sticky initially, so you might need to add a small amount of flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface and your hands.
- After kneading it for a few minutes, the dough will become less sticky. Keep kneading the dough until it becomes elastic, no longer sticky, and the surface becomes shiny and smooth. This process will generally take between 7 to 10 minutes.
- Apply some oil to the surface of the dough to prevent it from drying.
- Place the dough in an oiled container. Cover and let it rest for at least an hour or until the dough is fully relaxed, able to be stretched to paper-thin easily, and will not shrink back.
Making naan dough with yeast
The method is slightly different from the above because we have to dissolve the yeast first.
- Prepare and mix the dry ingredients, yogurt, and oil as for the baking soda method.
- Measure the amount of water required accurately.
- Sprinkle the active dry yeast into the water. Let the yeast dissolve by itself. The yeast should fully dissolve after five minutes. If it’s not fully dissolved, give it a mix.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients, yogurt, and oil and follow the remaining steps in the last section.
2. Resting and proofing
The dough will become more stretchable and soft after resting.
During resting, the dough with yeast will expand and eventually swell to nearly twice the original size. It will take within an hour at room temperature for the yeast formula. The dough without yeast will not expand, but it will become highly stretchable and soft after an hour.
- After the size has doubled, punch down the dough to release all the air trapped inside. (of course, this step is only for the dough with yeast).
- Place the dough on a floured surface, divide it into individual portions between 80g to 100 g each. This amount is enough to make the size of naan typically served in restaurants.
- After that, shape each portion into a ball.
- If you want to continue later, apply some oil to the surface to prevent the dough balls from sticking to each other. Place them in a container and cover. If you want to cook it immediately, just continue the steps in the following sections.
3. Roll out the dough and apply the garlic topping
The dough can only be rolled out once it is rested enough and fully relaxed. Otherwise, it will shrink back after each stroke.
Here are the steps:
- Place a portion of the dough on the work surface. It is sticky, and you need to flour the work surface and sprinkle some on the dough to prevent it from sticking. Another way to present sticking is to apply some oil to the surface of the dough.
- Flatten and push the dough outwards with your finger either into a circle or an oval. I prefer an oval by merely rolling it with the rolling pin back and forth. The ideal thickness is about 1/4 inch. It is easy to shape it with your fingers without using the rolling pin If the dough is fully relaxed.
Add the topping to become garlic naan
- Sprinkle some chopped garlic and chopped coriander leaves on the surface. If you have kalonji seeds, sprinkle a tiny amount on them as well.
- Press the surface lightly with your hand or rolling pin to ensure they stick firmly onto the dough. This step avoids the topping from falling off when you overturn the pan on the stove in the following steps.
- Flip it over and apply some water on the other side.
How to cook naan at home (without the tandoor)
The flipping skill of the professional naan bakers is too complicated for most of us. Even if we master the skill, it is almost unimaginable to purchase a tandoor just for making naan at home. Here is the easiest way to approximate how naan is made in the restaurant to address this problem.
The flipping part can be replaced by using a rolling pin. That’s easy.
The challenging part is how to bake the naan like what is happening in the tandoor’s chamber. The tandoor’s scorching surface cooks the bottom of the naan, and the top is heated and browned by the dry heat in the chamber.
Luckily there is a simple way to do this in any kitchen. All you need is a nonstick pan, preferably a cast iron pan or tawa, and a gas stove. I will explain how to do it in the following section.
4. Cook the naan on the pan or tawa
- Gently remove the dough with a dough cutter and put it on a heated pan (or tawa), wet side down. The naan will automatically stick onto it with the presence of water.
- Adjust the flame to medium heat and let the naan cook on it undisturbed until large blisters start forming on the surface. The heat will cause the dough to rise and fills the naan with air.
- Once this happens, turn the pan upside down at a position between four to six inches above the flame. Move the pan slowly so that the surface will be cooked evenly by the stove’s heat, just like what happens in the tandoor’s chamber.
- Do this step until it starts to develop charred marks on the brown blisters.
- Once the charred marks have developed, put the pan on the stove and cook for a few more seconds if you want it to become more crispy.
- Transfer the naan to the plate and brush some butter over it while it is still hot.
Note: If you like a more fluffy naan, roll it out slightly thicker. Make sure you have a good source of heat and cook it a little longer, or you will end up having some uncooked naans,
Why is a stove with a pan work?
Is using a pan and a gas stove a compromised method?
In a way, yes, but it does not make sense to get a tandoor just for making some naans. However, this is the closest technique to simulate what happens in the tandoor’s chamber.
Here are the reasons why it works.
- Once the cast iron pan is hot, it can hold the heat for a long time. Therefore, it is ideal to use it as the surface to cook the naan, like what happens in the tandoor.
- To simulate what is happening in the tandoor’s chamber, we need to stick the naan dough to the pan and overturn it so that the stove’s heat will cook the top of the naan. When water is applied to the dough’s surface, it will be stuck on the cast iron, just like in the tandoor. I have a nonstick tawa, which I use to make chapati, but the naan will slip off the surface even after applying plenty of water.
What if you don’t have a cast-iron pan? No problem. You can use any frying pan as long as it is not a nonstick pan. The dough will still stick onto the pan, although the heat may not be as well distributed as the cast iron pan.
How to store the raw dough
If you are not cooking the naan immediately, you can cover the raw dough with plastic sheets and keep it in an airtight container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. When you need to use them, roll them out as usual.
The topping for the garlic naan should be added right before cooking. Store the raw naan dough without any topping.
How to reheat naan
You can reheat garlic naan in the preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, place it in a cast iron pan and heat each side for a minute to make it hot and crispy again.
How to serve garlic naan
Plain naan is seldom served on its own, but the garlic naan is full of garlic and butter flavor that you can just eat alone. Here is a list of Indian dishes that are commonly served with naan.
Tandoori chicken. As the name implies, this chicken is baked in the tandoor! However, I also have a recipe that you can make in the oven. Check out this oven-baked tandoori chicken recipe.
Chicken curry. This easy chicken curry recipe is perfect for serving with naan. There is plenty of gravy that you can mop up with the naan.xxDal tadka. This dal recipe is perfect for vegetarians. Tadka is the tempering method to bring out the aroma and flavor, making it incredibly addictive and tasty.
Chicken tikka masala. This dish is not from India, although some people said otherwise. Chicken tikka masala is an Anglo-Indian cuisine that has been the staple of the British. It takes the classic chicken tikka to the next level with a dash of British coolness.
Ingredients A (dough)
- 200g (2.2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp castor sugar
- 50g (3.2 tbsps) plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) of warm water
Ingredients B (topping)
- 1.5 tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- 1tsp kalonji seeds
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- Combine the all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar.
- Make a small hole at the center and add the yogurt.
- Add the baking soda to the yogurt and gently mix them.
Then add the oil and start combining all the ingredients.
- Add water and combine all the ingredients.
- Kneading the dough until it becomes elastic, no longer sticky, and the surface becomes shiny and smooth. (about 7 to 10 minutes).
- Apply some oil to the dough. Cover and let it rest for 2 hours.
- Divide it into four portions and shape each portion into a ball.
- Flatten the dough with your finger either into a circle or an oval, about 1/4 inch thick.
- Sprinkle some chopped garlic, chopped coriander leaves, and kalonji seeds on the surface.
- Use a rolling pin to press the toppings so that it sticks firmly onto the dough. Flip it over and apply some water on the other side.
- Place it on a heated pan (or tawa), wet side down.
- When blisters start forming on the surface, turn the pan upside down at about four to six inches above the flame.
- Do this step until charred marks are developed on the blisters and the surface is nicely browned.
- Transfer the naan to the plate and brush some butter over it while it is still hot.
For the naan made with yeast, substitute the baking soda with 1/2 tsp of yeast in the recipe.
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Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet 2-Piece Set (10-Inch and 12-Inch) Oven Safe Cookware - 2 Heat-Resistant Holders - Indoor and Outdoor Use - Grill, Stovetop, Induction Safe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 195Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 546mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 6g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 1/28/2021