Delicious Sourdough Naan, classic Indian flatbread made with sourdough starter, flour, yogurt and milk topped with garlic or nigella seeds.
Naan, the Indian flat bread is one of the most famous dishes around the world. For Indians Naan is not just a flat bread, there is proud and emotional attachment to it. The Indian restaurants all over the world made it extremely popular. I tried the Sourdough Naan with my whole wheat starter, and the result was very surprising. My hubby who is not a fan of Naan from the Indian restaurants told me this is the best naan he has had after an exceptionally long time.What is Naan
First mention of Naan is in 1300 AD by the Indian poet and musician Amir Khusrow, but its origin is almost certainly older: probably since the arrive of yeast in India from Egypt. During the Moghul era, Naan was served as breakfast at noble families.
Naan in old Persian means bread, and in Iran it indicates any kind of bread. Over the centuries, Naan spread into Myanmar, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran, and the Chinese region of Xingjian. As a result of the migration flows, Naan also reached the Persian Gulf.
The plain naan, which is most popular are topped with garlic, kalonji (nigella seeds) sesame seeds etc. There are few stuffed naans that are also popular, and they are Keema Naan made with ground Mutton, Goat, or Lamb meat. Peshwari Naan is made with mixture of nuts and raisins, Kulcha Naan is made with onion and potatoes and Paneer Naan is made with Indian cottage cheese paneer.
In addition to traditional version there are fusion recipes are there like Naan flatbread bites, pizza naan and Burger Naan.
Naan is usually cooked in tandoor oven which can reach the temperature of 300-450°C ( 572-842°F) and the breads are baked for approximately 60-120 seconds. It is also common for tandoor ovens to remain lit for long periods to maintain the high cooking temperature.
Creating tandoor effect in home kitchen oven which will not heat beyond 500°F to 550°F is difficult but cooking in the cast iron skillet on a gas stove can mimic that effect.
Naan bread can be made with bread flour or all-purpose flour alone or mix of Whole wheat flour(atta) and all-purpose flour. If you make sourdough naan with mixture of both flours yield increased mineral content compared to single strain yeast.
Other ingredients in the Naan other than flour are, yeast/ sourdough, baking powder, baking soda, egg/ ghee/ oil, yogurt, milk/water, sugar, and salt.
If you are not using sourdough or yeast in your naan then use baking powder that is the leavening agent. Why baking soda is used in both sourdough/ yeast or non- yeast naan bread is because it strengthens the dough and increases the water absorption. Also prevents excessive acid levels in the fermented dough, especially during warm summer weather; and develops a desirable crust color.
Apart from imparting taste to bread, salt brings out the flavor of bread, and controls yeast activity thus keeping the fermentation speed under control. The tightening action of salt on flour proteins helps in gas retention of the dough. It also absorbs water and retards staling. The amount of salt normally present in Tandoori breads is between 1.0-2% of the flour weight
Milk and yogurt will give the naan a soft, more tender crumb than water alone.
I did not add any egg in the Sourdough Naan as it tend to make it tough bread.
I have not added any melted butter/ ghee or oil in the dough but like to spread it immediately after cooking the Naan as it tends to give more flavor and taste. You can add a little fat if you want while making the dough.
Points to remember while making the Sourdough Naan
First make the dough and ferment it for at least 2-4 hours at room temperature. If your kitchen temperature is warmer reduce the fermentation time to 2 hours.
Rest of fermentation is done in refrigerator for overnight or up to 12 hours.
While shaping the naan bread make sure to make slight thick, other wise you will get Naan pita as it tends to puff up while cooking.
You need to shape the naan tear shaped or oval for traditional Naan.
Always brush one side with water before start cooking in the cast iron pan and you need heat the side brush with water first.
No flipping of Naan bread is needed for cooking the naan.
If you do not have cilantro in hand use parsley.
Once you made sourdough naan enjoy with spicy chicken curry or lamb curry. If you want vegetarian version try Chana masala or chickpea curry.
- 125 g All-purpose flour 50%
- 125 g Whole wheat flour 50%
- 50 g Yogurt 20%
- 30 g Sourdough discards/ Sourdough starter 12%
- 100 g Whole Milk 40%
- 5 g salt 2%
- 5 g sugar 2%
- 2.5 g baking soda 1%
- 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
- ½ tablespoon Kalonji/ Nigella Seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2-3 tablespoon cilantro/ coriander leaves
- 3-4 tablespoon ghee / melted butter
- In a medium bowl mix everything including, flours, milk, yogurt, sourdough discards, salt, sugar, baking soda and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth dough .
- Leave the dough for rest at room temperature to 2- 4hours. Then divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and place it in a lightly greased glass tray. And refrigerate overnight.
- When you are ready to make Naan, heat cast iron Griddle. Heat it in medium flame. Then when it is heated. Roll dough into tear shape or oval, top with garlic/ cumin seeds/ kalonji( nigella seeds) and spray water on one side the dough.
- Place the dough which you spray water on the heated griddle, reduce to flame to low medium and cook until the bubbles start appearing.
- Lightly increase the flame to medium and invert the pan and cook the Naan directly in flame. This will give brown marks.
- Once it is cooked remove them from the griddle and immediately brush with ghee and sprinkle with cilantro.
- Enjoy with some spicy curry.
Naan can be frozen in a airtight plastic bag for 2 months. How to cook without a gas stove ?
This is Swathi ( Dr. Ambujom Saraswathy Ph.D) from Zesty South Indian Kitchen who loves to explore cuisines from all over the world. Whenever possible I try to to give an Indian touch to several of the world cuisine, and has weakness for freshly baked bread. All the recipes you see here are created by me and approved after taste-test by my family.