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The relentless naan thread ( long)

calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
edited October 2016 in EggHead Forum
You may not find this thread interesting unless you REALLY like naan. This will kinda ramble on, but I hope some find it useful. 

I've been dreaming of mastering homemade naan for several years. Most recipes by Western cooks are basically a tweaked pizza dough, which is not what I'm after. I'm talking about the thin, crispy,  but slightly chewy naans made in India and Pakistan. Naans seem to get more and more  "bready" as you go further west along the Silk Road through Afghanistan, and onwards to Central Asia, and that's not what I'm looking for either.

There are many recipes and videos from Indian and Pakistani home cooks, but a lot of them are cooking the naans in a pan on the stove (tawa naan), or in the oven (with  or without using the broiler).   I haven't seen one yet that looked like the naan I'm after. Recipes that called for flipping the naan to cook the other side were immediately disqualified. 

 The first phase of naan trials was done indoors.  Yes, I was shackled by the 490°F limit on my home oven, since it would lock itself after running at 500°F for a while. I placed a pizza stone on a rack, at the second slot from the top. Ran the oven at 490 for a while, then switched to the broiler before baking the naans on the stone. Naans were pulled at 2 mins. Naan has to "see" the heat,  meaning that the naan has to be between the heat and the stone, like when baked in a tandoor. Most naan made on a grill has the stone between the naan and the heat. Firing up the broiler in the oven was a close approximation to a tandoor, but the heat was not high enough.  More on this later. 

I didn't think that cooks in the Indian subcontinent had commercial yeast available to them way back in the day, so I thought yogurt was used as the leavening agent. Fail. Yogurt alone did not do the trick. A lot of recipes use baking powder, but that's cheating.  Tried the Serious Eats Grilled Naan recipe and that is not even close to the naan I want. Checked Madhur Jaffrey's recipe, and that's not it either. Found a naan recipe by Felicity Cloake, that seemed to be close, and she had already done some of my homework for me, in terms of trying variations to figure out the best recipe for the dough. So that's where I started. 

Tried several  recipes ( Serious Eats and a few others)  and then settled on trying to tweak the Cloake recipe. Her recipe uses bread flour, which I think made the naan a bit tough. Using all AP flour lacked some of the chewiness I wanted. Equal parts AP:bread flour was better, but a 1:2 mix of AP:bread flour won. 

Next comes the fat. You need some. Whole milk, full fat yogurt, butter. I tried variations with 2% milk, low fat Greek yogurt, oil instead of butter, and the texture of each of those versions was not bad, but not great. Yogurt and milk make the  naan softer than using water does. The yogurt adds flavor too. 

You can make naan the same day you mix the dough, but I had better results after refrigerating the  dough for 2-3 nights. The dough had more flavor, and seemed to behave better when rolling out and handling. No, I didn't hand-stretch them into the classic tear-drop/triangular shape. But, I'm working on that.   

Phase 1 helped me figure out that a mix of flours worked best, adding an egg makes the dough less elastic and gives the naan some chew, and that I definitely needed more heat. So phase 2 involved lighting up my small egg. Started with a pizza stone on a raised grid, running at about 650°F. Naans cooked for about 35-40 secs. Phase 2 involved 3 doughs =  bread flour + egg, equal parts AP and bread flour, and AP 1 part + bread flour 2 parts + egg. The last dough was the best I've tried so far. 

Finally some pics (of the dough that won, recipe to follow):
Top side-


Bottom side - 


Transverse section- 


This naan had almost all of the elements I was looking for in terms of crispness, chew, and texture. The texture was a little bit off, because of the naan being on a stone above the fire, instead of being between the stone and the fire. There may be a way to rig that up on an egg, which may be phase 4 of naan trials.   

Setting up the egg so the naan cooks higher in the dome will probably help the top brown a bit more before charring the bottom. But I have a tandoor, so phase 3 trials will involve lighting it up and making naans the right way, with the naan seeing the fire. Its going to be a while before I have time to do that though. 

If you give it a shot and have any tips, please post. Or if you have found the perfect naan recipe, please share!

#1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
«1

Comments

  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    Relentless Naan Recipe

    Yeast                                             1 tsp
    Sugar                                             2tsp
    Water                                              30ml
    Salt                                                  1tsp
    Bread flour                                   200g
    AP flour                                        100g
    Egg                                                  1
    Milk, whole                                   60ml
    Yogurt, full fat, active cultures      60ml
    Butter, melted                              60ml

    - Warm the water to 110°F. Add to yeast and sugar, and let the yeast activate for 10mins

    - Whisk the salt and flours together. 

    - Lightly beat the egg and mix with yogurt and milk to make a smooth mixture. 

    - Combine all of the above in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add the melted butter. 

    - Mix at low speed until the ingredients just come together. I find the paddle attachment on the KA works better than the dough hook. Let it rest for 10 mins. Then mix again for 5-10mins until the dough is smooth and doesn't stick to the bowl.

    - Lightly oil the dough and bowl and let it rise for about 2 hrs or until double in volume.

    - Punch it down and then refrigerate the dough overnight (2-3 days is better).

    - When you're ready to make naan, let it come up to room temp while the egg comes up to temp (~650°F).

    - Set the egg up with a pizza stone on the grid or whatever your setup for making pizzas is.   

    - On a well floured surface, roll out the naans, ~1/16" thick. Dock the naan with a sharp knife.

    - Burp the egg.

    - Transfer the naan onto the stone, and check  at about 35secs. The top should be bubbly, with brown spots, without charring the bottom. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • That looks legit. Sounds like one of those little metal pellet burning pizza ovens that popped up on here a while back would work great. I know a few guys on here have one. 
    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • The Uuni


    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • Share this video

    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • ToxarchToxarch Posts: 1,672
    Out of curiosity, can I ask what part of India you or your ancestors are from? I assume somewhere in North India since you are after the perfect Naan. I was born in Texas and my parents are from Karnataka. It's mostly chapati in the South, but I do enjoy a good Naan. I wondered if you have tried any Indian flours rather than bread or AP flours. 
    Aledo, Texas
    Large BGE
    KJ Jr.

    Exodus 12:9 KJV
    Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.

  • cazzycazzy Posts: 9,065
    Great late night read!  Now I want naan!
    Just a hack that makes some $hitty BBQ....
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 9,065
    edited October 2016
    One thought that popped in my head as I read your rant, was we should open a hybrid spot that served naan (softer texture) tacos!!   Weird thoughts at 3am  :tongue:
    Just a hack that makes some $hitty BBQ....
  • TheToastTheToast Posts: 253
    That looks great. When I lived in East London, we had a naan bakery nearby. Was basically a hole in the wall with a woman taking orders and five guys with a load of tandoor ovens making dough and continually cooking bread. Because the dough is slammed deep into the oven, they'd have to get their arm deep in there. So all these guys would have one hairy left arm and one totally hairless, smooth right arm - the heat had singed it off. 
  • YukonRonYukonRon Posts: 12,242
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I appreciate all the hard work you have done.
    "Knowledge is Good" - Emil Faber

    XL and MM
    Louisville, Kentucky
  • cazzy said:
    One thought that popped in my head as I read your rant, was we should open a hybrid spot that served naan (softer texture) tacos!!   Weird thoughts at 3am  :tongue:
    Great idea! 
    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    cazzy said:
    One thought that popped in my head as I read your rant, was we should open a hybrid spot that served naan (softer texture) tacos!!   Weird thoughts at 3am  :tongue:
    Dude... That joint would be poppin'! Mexi-indian food truck :) 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 6,192
    Bookmarked! Thanks for sharing Ashish.
    canuckland
  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 6,192
    I've been 'drooling' over this, looks like any generic pellets will work so no pricey proprietary fuel needed?
    Saw it at the 'toy store' recently...

    canuckland
  • girbimgirbim Posts: 25
    Thanks you for the work.  Naan is something that I have been going to look into more.  I ordered some at a restaurant last weekend and it was about 1 inch thick.  I really had to use my imagination to think of it as naan.
    Large BGE

    Minneapolis, MN
  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 6,192
    cazzy said:
    One thought that popped in my head as I read your rant, was we should open a hybrid spot that served naan (softer texture) tacos!!   Weird thoughts at 3am  :tongue:
    why not, JapMex storm is already in town here!  Bring on the MexIndian!


    canuckland
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    I remember you posting about this a while ago. That would probably do the trick. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    Bookmarked! Thanks for sharing Ashish.
    Gary, this dough should work well in your tandoor. I would love to hear what you have to say after trying it. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • theyolksonyoutheyolksonyou Posts: 16,206
    I want to try this hybrid truck


    I also want naan now. Been wanting to make my own. Thanks for sharing. 
    Jason NW GA- home of carpet and Mexican restaurants
    LBGE, MM, BS (Blackstone and the other kind)
    One sorry Labrador

    My chili did not suck. 
  • jlsmjlsm Posts: 981
    Wonderful. How many do you get from one recipe? Have you tried freezing them? 

    *******
    Owner of a large and a beloved mini in Philadelphia
  • caliking said:
    I remember you posting about this a while ago. That would probably do the trick. 
    Why don't you buy one and find out?
    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • blind99blind99 Posts: 4,211
    Very nice write up. You may have a second career writing recipes!

    i wonder how it would turn out if you put it right on the grill above the coals, maybe with the hit platesetter write on top of it? (Not crushing it, just feet down, on the grill)
    Chicago, IL - Large and Small BGE - Weber Gasser and Kettle
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    Two platesetters did the trick for me.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    caliking said:
    I remember you posting about this a while ago. That would probably do the trick. 
    Why don't you buy one and find out?
    I'm not falling for that...again.

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    blind99 said:
    Very nice write up. You may have a second career writing recipes!

    i wonder how it would turn out if you put it right on the grill above the coals, maybe with the hit platesetter write on top of it? (Not crushing it, just feet down, on the grill)
    That may be worth trying. Provided the dough doesn't fall through the grid. Thanks.

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • blind99blind99 Posts: 4,211
    I used to do pizzas on the Weber kettle and cooked the dough halfway through, directly on the grid. Surprisingly they didn't stick or fall through. I gave it a pretty good brush of olive oil, though. 
    Chicago, IL - Large and Small BGE - Weber Gasser and Kettle
  • caliking said:
    caliking said:
    I remember you posting about this a while ago. That would probably do the trick. 
    Why don't you buy one and find out?
    I'm not falling for that...again.
    Dangit. Was really hoping to cost you some forum dollars here. 
    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    Dangit. Was really hoping to cost you some forum dollars here. 
    Dude... have mercy. I already have a KBQ on the grey list.

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    Two platesetters did the trick for me.
    I remember your setup. It gets the naan high in the dome, but the naan doesn't see the fire. 

    I might let that one slip by though. Just because its you. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    girbim said:
    Thanks you for the work.  Naan is something that I have been going to look into more.  I ordered some at a restaurant last weekend and it was about 1 inch thick.  I really had to use my imagination to think of it as naan.
    That's the kind of experience that prompts an endeavor like this. Sh!tty tandoori chicken is what prompted me to build my tandoor in the first place. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,118
    TheToast said:
    That looks great. When I lived in East London, we had a naan bakery nearby. Was basically a hole in the wall with a woman taking orders and five guys with a load of tandoor ovens making dough and continually cooking bread. Because the dough is slammed deep into the oven, they'd have to get their arm deep in there. So all these guys would have one hairy left arm and one totally hairless, smooth right arm - the heat had singed it off. 
    That's usually what my arm looks like after the tandoor has been lit :) It grows back though. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
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