Soft and chewy Indian flat breads, traditionally made with yoghurt and butter and served alongside dishes from the north of India. With a few substitutions and a simple cooking method, you can now enjoy these at home whenever you please!
I often get a bit of a surprised look from people when I tell them the things I miss most. Cheese, Naan breads and Twixs. I admit, it is a strange list, but the one thing they have all had in common is that you just can’t make them yourself at home and get the same results. People are often surprised at Naan breads not being dairy free – however they almost always contain yoghurt, which gives it it’s chewy texture, and are then slathered in butter.
Well, it turns out that it is possible to make perfect Naan breads at home. And it is really simple. And it doesn’t require any special equipment at all! Who’d have thought?! And, even better, I can genuinely promise you that you would never know there have been any substitutions. Now, when I say simple… You do have to make a bread dough, which I know strikes fear in some people! But I promise it isn’t hard, and as this is quite a wet and sticky dough it is very hard to go wrong. You can’t over or under knead – just play with it for about 5 minutes and you can’t go wrong.
The other reason that I had thought Naan bread would not be possible to make at home is because they are traditionally cooked in a Tandoor – a very hot and dry clay oven which gives them a subtly smokey and charred flavour. The very high temperatures also mean the bread cooks quickly, creating the big air bubbles which give the bread it’s traditional look. To replicate this type of cooking at home is actually, surprisingly, really easy and requires no special equipment at all. All you need is a good non-stick frying pan. Ideally a heavy bottomed pan as this will retain the very high heat better – but any frying pan will work.
Now I’ll admit that you can’t have these without working and waiting for them. However, they freeze and reheat excellently and you can easily double the amount you make. And so that’s it. The secret of making dairy free Naan breads at home is revealed – let us rejoice, as we all know that no curry is complete without a humble and yet majestic Naan bread on the side.
Makes 6 Naan breads. Takes 45 minutes, plus 1 hour proving time.
Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/incredible-naan-breads/#2LI85tbruUFz3gCh.97
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp dairy free yoghurt (I used Alpro plain soya yoghurt)
- 1/2 7g packet of dried yeast
- 1 tsp honey
- 125g room temperature water
- 45g dairy free butter
- 260g strong white bread flour
- 1 heaped tsp sea salt
- 3 garlic cloves
- 25g fresh coriander
- In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and yoghurt, and leave to sit for about 5 minutes.
- In another bowl or jug, add the yeast, honey and water. Mix with a fork and leave for a few minutes until it starts to bubble.
- Melt the butter over a low heat.
- In a large bowl, add the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast and yoghurt mixes, plus 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and start to bring the dough together. Leave the remaining melted butter aside.
- On a very lightly floured surface tip out the dough, and knead for about 5 minutes. The dough is very soft and so is best kneaded following the Richard Bertinett technique- watch what I mean here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXV8mayG3W0. Although it will stick to your hands a lot when you start, as you knead and the gluten gets stronger, it will begin to ‘clean’ the work surface and your hands. Stop when the dough is smooth and almost all the dough has been cleaned off the work surface and your hands.
- Lightly flour the bowl you started the dough in and place it in there to prove. Cover with clingfilm and leave at room temperature for about an hour until the dough has risen to at least twice it’s size.
- Finely dice the garlic cloves, finely chop the coriander stalks, and roughly chop the coriander leaves.
- When the dough has risen, tip it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface, and cut into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and leave for a few minutes whilst you get out a heavy based non stick frying pan. Place over a medium – high heat and wait until it gets very hot.
- On a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll each ball of dough into a rough oval shape, roughly half a centimetre thick. Pull it off the surface at one of the oval ends, turning it from an oval shape to a tear drop shape. Place into the dry, hot pan.
- Leave to cook for 2 – 3 minutes on this side. It should get very brown on the bottom, and the top should start to bubble. Turn over so it is now bubbly side down and continue to cook for another 1 – 2 minutes, until charred.
- Remove from the pan, and place onto a serving plate. Immediately brush over the bubbly and charred side with the melted butter, and generously sprinkle over the garlic and coriander. Cover with foil to keep warm.
- Repeat steps 9 – 11 until all 6 naan breads are cooked.
- Serve alongside your favourite curry recipe.