I have been to a few India Restaurants over the years and one of my favorite parts of the meal has been the Naan Bread. I decided to find out more about Naan and see if I could make it just with sourdough since a couple of years ago I made some with wine yeast. When I was reading up on Naan I found that it was a generic term for India flatbread and that it is made in neighboring countries as well. I have been adjusting the formula for about four weeks and today it was really great. My neighbor had a piece of it and said it better than the Naan in the restaurant. I thought it was wonderful too.
The starter is made in two builds from 60% hydration storage starter with 332 grams of 166% hydration preferment going into the dough. All of the water for this bread is in the preferment. The other nice fact about doing the preferment with the high hydration is the dough raises fast and doesn't get a lot of sourdough flavor. I figured many years ago before packaged yeast Naan had to be made as a type of sourdough hopefully this is close to what they did. To made the dough just mix all the ingredients together and let it raise up to double in its size. The yoghurt and egg need to be beaten before they are added to the other ingredients. I did no punching down or stretch and folds to the dough. This is a flatbread so I didn't see a need to do that. This ends up making a nice soft dough that my brain is working on to make other breads from but it is just wonderful to touch and work with. Personally I think there is a pizza just wanting to be made from the dough. I also imagine that the dough could be put in the fridge a few days and you could break off a piece and make a Naan when ever you wanted one. There are a number of different ways you can cook the Naan but this Naan was cooked in a cast iron frying pan. You can also bake it in your oven or in a Tandoor if you have one.
When the dough has doubled in size turn it out on to a well floured surface. Get flour on your hands and grab the dough and twist off a ball of dough. You will have to learn what size of ball to twist off since this is what determines how big the Naan will be. I made 11 Naans from my dough and think I could have made 12 if I had planned on it. The dough is sticky where it is twisted off so roll it around in the flour so you can work with it. Now start shaping the Naan into a flat round. Naans are by tradition ovals but it was hard to make ovals and cook them in a frying pan. Keep working the dough out making the round larger and larger. I made my Naans about an 1/8" thick. The frying pan heat was at 4.5 on my stove. I saw directions that said not to have the frying pan smoking hot but I think I was just at the slightly smoking hot temperature. The Naan cooks fairly fast.
The first Naan I used some spray oil in the pan and the rest no spray oil was added. The Naan bubbles up as it cooks and you will just have to guess at the timing when to flip the bread over. Naan in restaurants sometimes has little burn spots on it so I tried to cook it until it looked like that. When you flip the Naan over I brushed melted butter onto the side that was just done. You can form the next Naan to get ready to cook as the current Naan is cooking. Cooking goes by pretty fast.
This is what I like about Naan. It tastes great and it is very easy to make. I could see having a bowl of this dough in the fridge just so you could make a quick fast bread when ever you wanted some bread to eat. Best of all you can eat it hot you don't have to wait for it to cool down.