I absolutely love naan bread. The best is made in a tandoori oven (so basically naan served in Indian restaurants), the second best is cooked at home using a cast-iron skillet like I do here, but somehow I often end up buying the dry supermarket stuff with too many ingredients in it. Or used to end up buying, because most shop-bought naans aren’t vegan. Think what you will about veganism, it eliminates a lot of processed foods from your diet in one fell swoop (or maybe I should say ‘even more’ processed foods).
So these days, if I want to eat naan bread, I have to make my own. This is no problem, because this recipe, based on Jamie Oliver’s quick flatbreads, allows me to whip them up in no time at all. Two tips: coat your fingertips with a bit of oil while ‘kneading’ the dough (quickly bringing it together) and while pushing it out. Excess flour will burn in your pan, creating smoke and a smell. Secondly, wrap your naans in a clean tea towel and leave them in there until you’re ready to eat. Cooling them on a wire rack results in crispy flatbreads, which is not what you’re after.
Ingredients (makes 2 large naans)
175 g plain flour
2 generous tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each of nigella seeds (kalonji) and fennel seeds
150 g soya yogurt
generous squeeze of lemon juice
– Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or other shallow, lidded pan with a heavy bottom on a medium-high heat. Make sure it is scorchingly hot by the time you put in the dough.
– Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
– Mix yogurt and lemon juice in a smaller bowl.
– Throw wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ones and mix with a spatula. Finish with a quick and light ‘knead’, using oil-coated fingertips.
– Divide the dough into two balls, pressing one out on a silicon baking mat (not essential but very handy here) with your fingers. A tear shape is traditional but I just press until it’s roughly 1 cm thick.
– Slap the naan onto the surface of the hot pan and clamp on a well-fitting lid.
– Cook/bake for 2 minutes, turn, put lid back on and give it another 2 minutes. If the top looks a bit anaemic, turn again and bake for another minute, lid on. Wrap in a clean tea towel.
– Repeat with the second ball of dough. If the pan gets a bit too hot, turn the heat down slightly; you want some nice blistering but no charcoaly bits.