Saturday, May 18, 2013

Recipe of the month: Tawa Naan those of you who like my blog's Facebook page would be aware that this particular recipe was scheduled to be featured soon on my blog. I know its been quite a while since I announced that I would post it so I apologize for the delay. I had arrived at this recipe (after a few trials) months ago but I was only waiting for a chance to take some pics. Relying on weekends to take food pics is quite cumbersome *sighs* I simply have to figure out how to take decent night shots of food!

I'm assuming naan doesn't need much introduction but if you haven't heard or tasted it before, naan is an incredibly popular leavened, oven-baked flatbread native to Western, Central and South Asia. Among other Indian breads, naan is an integral part of North-Indian cuisine yet enjoys widespread popularity not only all over India but the rest of the world as well. This soft, crispy and hearty flatbread is the perfect medium to dunk in all kinds of savory Indian curries and dry side dishes. I know of many people who love to eat naan just as it is, smeared generously with good ol' butter! There are so many varieties of naan available, the most common being - plain, butter, garlic and herb flavored naan. Adding to its international appeal, this versatile bread can even be turned into wraps, rolls, pizza and sandwiches. The possibilities are endless :)

I love North-Indian food and I LOVE naan. It is something I order without fail when I'm at Indian restaurants. I always thought naan would be one of those things that only chefs at restaurants knew how to make well and would turn out rubbish at home. After all, the restaurants do use the tandoori oven which reaches very high temperatures (in the range of 480 deg C) which results in the perfect texture and smoky flavor of the naan. Replicating something like that at home would obviously be quite a challenge. That being said, while browsing food galleries, I was surprised to see so many home cooks post recipes for naan that looked quite authentic. And even more surprising was that many recipes that I saw were posted by non-Indians. Being slightly intimidated by traditional naan recipes, I'd always be the first to click on "quick", "instant", "non-yeast" based recipes and even tried one or two but they never worked for me. I guess when it comes to certain recipes, short-cuts  are not the answer.

So, one day I had some free time and thought I'd try making naan the way its supposed to be made. In the past, I'd seen recipes for naan that use both the oven as well as the stove-top i.e. on a tawa. I naively assumed that the oven would do a better job of cooking the naan (I'm oven obsessed!) so that was what I tried first. Unfortunately the maximum temperature in my oven is 250 deg C (higher temperatures would work better) so I wasn't entirely satisfied with how the texture of the naan turned out. It wasn't as soft as I would have liked it to be and were also more on the thicker side. Slightly dejected, I thought I'd try the stove-top method as a last ditch attempt and if it didn't work, I'd entirely abandon my naan-making efforts and not think about it again. I used the exact same recipe that I had earlier tried with the oven (the only change I made was to roll out the naans thinner) and whoopee, were my efforts rewarded! What's more, it was so much easier! I used the same technique to cook the naan that I use to make phulkas. The resulting naan was pillowy soft and had nice char marks from the direct contact with the flame. The only difference from restaurant-quality naan that I could point out was that it lacked that signature crunchy-crispy texture. Even then, it was naan that would make any home cook proud! I had prepared some creamy Malai Kofta to go along with it and it was one heck of an awesome Sunday lunch (if I do say so myself!). I had some left-over naan and curry so I even packed it in mine and my hubby's lunch-box to take to work the next day and you have to believe me when I say that the naan was as soft when I had it the subsequent day as it was the previous day (and this was after overnight refrigeration and a few seconds of microwaving to reheat). It really surprised me because even at restaurants, the naan tends to get hard, tough and rubbery if it is left out for too long which is also a reason why we never get it packed as take-away.

Ok so I've rattled on long enough about my naan-making adventure and I hope I've managed to convince you that it is worth the effort. Now for the important bit - the recipe :)

Oh yeah and just more more thing - I will be posting my recipe for Malai Kofta soon so watch this space...

Tawa Naan

Preparation time: ~ 2 hours
Cooking time: 2-4 mins per naan
Serves: 4-5
Recipe category: Main course (bread)/North Indian
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe source: Adapted from here


4 1/2 cups plain flour (maida), plus more for kneading and rolling
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp yeast (I used Fleischmann's active dry yeast)
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp fine salt
2 pinches baking soda
4 tbsp melted ghee, plus more for brushing on top*
1/2 cup plain yogurt
~1 cup lukewarm water

*Ghee is clarified butter; if you prefer, you can use vegetable or canola oil instead.  


1. Mix together the yeast with the lukewarm milk, and 1 tsp sugar in a small bowl; let sit 10 minutes, or until it becomes frothy.  This is done to proof the yeast (I suggest that you don't skip this step).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, 1 tsp sugar and baking soda.  Brush 1/2 tablespoon oil on the inside of another large bowl and set aside.

3. Mix in the dissolved yeast, ghee, and yogurt, then mix in the water a little at a time until it forms a soft dough (you may not need all the water, or you may need a touch more). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 minutes, adding a sprinkle more flour as necessary (the dough is done being kneaded when you press a finger into it and the indentation remains).

4. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl and roll it gently to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with a slightly damp towel and let sit until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

5. At the end of this time, you will see that the dough has risen considerably (see pic below). Punch it down and gently knead again.

6. Lightly flour your work surface and roughly stretch and shape the dough with your hands into an elongated oval or teardrop shape.

7. Now using a rolling pin, roll the dough to the elongated oval or teardrop shape, about 10 to 12 inches long by 5 to 6 inches wide. If you find these shapes difficult, you can always stick with a circular shape. The naans should not be too thick.

8. Heat a pan/tawa (preferably cast iron) until it is very hot. The trick to getting the naan soft yet slightly charred on the stove-top is to place it on the hot pan and cook it partially on one side (just until you begin to see tiny air bubbles). Then flip it over and cook it thoroughly on the other side until you see large air bubbles and deep brown spots. Now using kitchen tongs, place the naan directly over the flame on the partially cooked side until you see the naan to puff up and get blistered and lightly blackened. Move the naan along the flame to make sure the entire surface comes into contact with the flame. Remove from flame.

I realized only later that I had forgotten to take even a single picture of the naans with the charred side facing up! Duh!

9. Top with melted ghee if desired, and cool completely.  Roll out the rest of the dough one by one, and cook and cool it the same way. Don't stack the rolled dough on top of the other because they will stick to each other!

10. Place the naan in a tea towel-lined dish. For best results, serve this bread within a few minutes of making but if you are storing it in the fridge, microwave it for a few seconds before eating. This naan still remains pillowy soft!


  • You can use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast (this will shorten the dough rising time). 1 tsp instant yeast equals 1.5 tsp active dry yeast. The instant yeast can be added directly to the dry ingredients but I still prefer to add it to wet ingredients
  • You can upgrade this same recipe to make garlic naan



  1. Great to see your blog 😊

  2. hi Megha...u sound planning 2 try out..hav a doubt..41/2cups of maida flour..wat kind of cup did u use 4 measurement..or hw much ml?..becoz i go wrong most of the time wit quantity

  3. Hi there. I use the standard dry measuring cup. If you take a look at the 3rd pic with the 2 big white bowls, you can see it at the side (the stainless steel one). I use these standard dry measuring cups in most of my recipes. 1 cup equals about 237ml. Hope this helps!

  4. Just made this recipe.. turned out amaaaazzing! I had no idea I was capable of making Naan. So pleased :) I used all purpose white flour, and the difference could be they aren't as thin as yours, and less big bubbles, but on the taste test they passed big time, and they look like real naan.
    Thank you for this recipe, a new favorite.

  5. Thank you so much Tamara :) Happy to hear that.


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