This simple tandoori bread naan recipe reproduces in your own kitchen the moghul bread that is traditionally baked in the Indian clay oven (tandoor). The results are as good as they can be without the sweet wood coal and earthy clay aromas.
1. Put the flour in a mixing bowl.
2. Heat the milk with the butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter melts and the milk is warm (100 F). Stir in the yeast and the sugar.
3. Pour the milk mixture over the flour. Mix and knead until you have a soft-satiny dough (about 15 minutes). Cover and let the dough rest in a warm place for 4 hrs or until it has risen.
4. Preheat the oven to 500 deg F.
5. Punch down the dough first, then knead again for a minute and divide into eight portions.
6. Roll each portion into a neat ball and, using a rolling pin, spread it into a 5" round. Using your hands, stretch the round into an oval-shaped form like a large teardrop. Place the rolled and formed breads on an ungreased cookie sheet, a few at a time. Bake in the middle level of the oven for 3 min or until baked. They will look like Middle Eastern pita bread.
7. To give the nan an attractive appearance, place the cooked breads under the broiler of the oven for a few seconds until the top develops a few brown spots. Keep them warm, covered, while you bake all the breads.
Note: for a more authentic look and flavor, bruch each formed nan with water and sprinkle wiht 1/16 teaspoon black onion seeds (kalaunji) or 1/4 tsp sesame seeds before baking.
Naan resembles pita bread and, like pita bread, is usually leavened with yeast; unleavened dough (similar to that used for roti) is also used. Naan is cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven, from which tandoori cooking takes its name. This distinguishes it from roti which is usually cooked on a flat or slightly concave iron griddle called a tava. Modern recipes sometimes substitute baking powder for the yeast. Milk or yoghurt may also be used to give greater volume and thickness to the naan. Typically, the naan will be served hot and brushed with ghee or butter. It can be used to scoop other foods, or served stuffed with a filling: for example, keema naan is stuffed with a minced meat mixture (usually lamb or mutton); Another variation is peshwari naan.. Peshawari naan and Kashmiri naan are filled with a mixture of nuts and raisins; aloo naan is stuffed with potatoes. Possible seasonings in the dough include cumin and nigella seeds. Naan used to be called lugidin bread.
A typical naan recipe involves mixing white flour with salt, a yeast culture, and enough yogurt to make a smooth, elastic dough. The dough is kneaded for a few minutes, then set aside to rise for a few hours. Once risen, the dough is divided into balls (about 100 grams or 3½ oz each), which are flattened and cooked. In Indian cuisine, naans are typically graced with fragrant essences, such as rose, khus (vetiver), and kevra (a pine essence native to Southern India), with butter or ghee melted on them.