This butter naan recipe is a classic Indian flatbread that you can make in your kitchen. Piping hot out of the pan, this soft and pillowy bread is a perfect side to any entree. Making this is easy thanks to the food processor – mix, rest, roll and pan fry.
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Naan is a traditional flatbread in Asia, most notably India where it is baked in a special oven called a tandoor. When the dough is ready to bake, it is slapped onto the inside wall of the tandoor where the heat from the side cooks it on one side and the open fire below chars the other side.
Today we are making butter naan in a cast iron pan where the dough will bubble up and transform into a thick, pillowy flatbread.
The word naan is derived from the Persian word ‘nan’ which means bread. In India, naan refers to any thick, leavened flatbread. It is usually leavened with active dry yeast or from a yeast starter, leftover dough from a previous batch. I leavened with active dry yeast with a smidge of baking powder and baking soda to increase success.
Butter is slathered on during cooking which helps give naan a rich golden color as well as a buttery flavor. The butter along with the plain yogurt imparts a distinctive flavor which naan is known for.
How to make butter naan recipe step-by-step
- In a small bowl add 2 cups of warm water, 2 tsp sugar and 1 packet of active dried yeast or 2 1/2 tsp. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- In the bowl of a food processor add 3 cups of all purpose flour (385g), 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda. Pulse a few times to mix well.
- Add yeast water, egg and yogurt and mix until dough comes apart from the sides. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it does.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly in order to form a smooth ball. Dough should be soft, smooth and not sticky. If it’s sticky, sprinkle with more flour and knead until it becomes smooth. Rub oil on all sides, cover with plastic or a damp kitchen towel. Rest 1-3 hours. The longer, the better. Your dough will be easier to roll out after the gluten has a chance to relax.
- Divide into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece and sprinkle with flour, set aside under a damp kitchen towel or plastic. If the dough is hard to roll out, let it rest another 15 minutes to give the gluten a chance to relax.
- Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, preferably cast iron but any skillet will work. Butter one side of naan dough with melted butter and place butter-side down. While the dough is cooking, butter the other side. After a minute or two when the bread is golden brown, flip the dough. The bread will puff up and turn golden brown.
For another Indian flatbread, enjoy Sweet Potato Parathas.
Mana’eesh is a middle eastern flatbread similar to naan. It is sprinkled with an herb mixture called Za’atar.
Curious about what is in an Indian cook’s pantry? I made a free printable just for you. If you are just diving into Indian cooking, this Indian pantry list will be helpful to you. You probably already have some of these ingredients. Pro-tip, spices and sometimes vegetables, in an Indian market are much cheaper than at the supermarket.
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