When it comes to guilty pleasures, along with paneer, naan is up there on my list. Brushed with the most flavoursome fresh garlic and coriander butter, these are so perfect for pairing with any Indian curry or daal. They’re soft, slightly chewy and a little charred in places – this balance of textures is so characteristic of good naan.
Naan is one of India’s most famous breads, and probably the most well-known in British Asian restaurants. Very rarely do I leave an Indian restaurant without having filled my belly with garlic and coriander naan – lest they just so happen to have garlic, coriander and chilli naan on the menu (in which case, I’ll take two).
Whenever I’m making naan, I love to add kalonji (nigella) seeds – they impart that special flavour you definitely know, but somehow can never put your finger on. They’re aromatic, slightly bitter, but have an incredibly delicious flavour which mellows out when baked into the bread.
- Tawa or frying pan (not non-stick)
- Rolling pin
- Metal turner or spatula
For the bullet naan dough:
- 325 g self raising flour
- 2 tbsp nigella seeds (kalonji), to top the naans
- 1 tbsp icing sugar (powdered/confectioners' sugar)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp full-fat yoghurt
- 1 tbsp oil (any flavourless)
- 150 ml warm water
For the coriander-garlic butter:
- 125 g salted butter
- 3 large cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander chopped
You will also need:
- 1-2 tbsp extra flour for dusting and rolling
To make the naan dough:
- In a large plate with high sides or bowl, mix together the flour, nigella seeds, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the oil and yoghurt.
- Add the warm water and use your fingers to begin mixing it with the yoghurt and oil. Bring the flour to the centre a little at a time and mix to create a sticky dough. Knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and soft. The mixture may feel a little sticky but this is okay. Do not add any extra flour.
- Cover the dough with a very thin film of oil, place it in a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Allow to rest for 30 minutes while you make the stuffing.
To make the coriander-garlic butter:
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter, then add the garlic. Cook for 90 seconds and then switch the heat off. Add the coriander.
To cook the naan:
- Divide the rested dough into 6 equal portions. Each portion should weigh around 85g. Cover the dough to prevent it from drying out.
- Lightly flour a rolling board or clean worktop. Take a piece of naan dough and roll it out into a circle or teardrop shape around 15-18cm wide.
- Heat a tawa or large frying pan over a med-high heat (about 4-5 minutes). Do not use a non-stick pan for this cooking method. I use steel or aluminium.
- Carefully turn the naan over and apply water on the back of the naan. Very carefully place the naan on the pre-heated tawa, water-side down. Cook for 40-50 seconds or until small bubbles appear on the surface of the naan.
- Pick the pan up by the handle (use an oven glove if it's very hot) and flip the pan upside down to cook the naan directly over the flame. The water will ensure the naan sticks to the pan. Cook until charred spots appear all over the surface of the naan.
- Use a metal spatula or turner to gently release the naan from the tawa or pan.
- Brush with the garlic and coriander butter. Serve immediately or keep the naan in an insulated container while you cook the rest of them.
- Repeat these steps for the remaining naan.
- The above cooking method may not be your preference. In this case, simply skip the water step and cook the naan on both sides in a very hot frying pan. Non-stick is fine to use in this case.
- For extra char, you can place the naans under the grill for a few seconds.
- Arrange the naans on a lined baking tray and bake in a 220°C/430°F oven for 4-5 minutes.
I like to serve these with Melt in the Mouth Paneer Kofta, Shahi Paneer Stuffed Okra, Vegetarian Tandoori Kebabs from Scratch or Kashmiri Dum Aloo. However, you could be far more experimental and make one of my favourite quick dinners in the world – naan pizza. I’ll explain later.