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I would like to know what the authentic and traditional ingredients for Naan bread are. There are many recipes that use some ingredients but not others and the cooking method are not always the same. These are the ingredients which usually differ from what I have seen:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Water
  • Baking Powder
  • Yeast
  • Eggs

This recipe here does not use yogurt, this one here uses no baking powder or milk or yogurt, this one here uses no baking powder or yogurt. I can understand substitutions and variations, but I would like to know how it is originally made and what the ingredients are.

Also the cooking method varies. Some use a pan to fry the Naans prepared, some use only the oven, and some use the oven and then are grilled at the end for a short time.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Naan traditionally is plain flat bread made using bread flour, Yeast, salt and water. Its cooked in tandoor.

Salt could be optional if you are having naan with a curry. (Cause curry usually has salt and the bread might not need it).

Variations like milk or yogurt is used instead of water to make dough soft and fluffy. This would change the texture and flavor of the bread.

It is possible to use baking powder instead of yeast, because they both act as a leavening agent. Don't use them together.

IMHO eggs are not part of the traditional naan ingredients.

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could you also add something about variations of cooking the Naan? And could you tell me if you could use beer instead of yeast/baking powder? –  Vass May 14 '13 at 14:20
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The only cooking variation I can think of is cooking it on griddle. But that is not traditional. If you don't have a tandoor you can mimic it using this. Beer would work, but I don't recommend it. Use buttermilk incase you don't want to use yeast/baking powder. –  user1190992 May 14 '13 at 14:36
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Why should baking powder be used instead of yeast? Your answer only states that yeast is the traditional way and both yeast and baking powder are leavening agents. So why do you recommend baking powder instead? –  Jay May 14 '13 at 15:55
    
@jay I edited to what I think OP meant - either baking powder or yeast, not both. –  slim May 14 '13 at 16:18

There are many ways to cook naan depending upon the region or area, all are authentic but as far as the addition of egg in naan is irrelevant. People use yogurt, ghee (clarified butter) as well as milk to make soft naan. Yeast and dough starter both are used interchangeably by most of the naan maker.

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About the recipe:

Naan is traditionally made with yogurt to leaven it. It would have to sit for at least 4 hrs, or up to 12, depending on how warm it is. Yeast was not traditionally used in india (though is now), and baking soda is also a newer introduction.

Milk or water can be used interchangeably. Milk will make it a bit softer. This is just preference.

Egg is not necessary. Many people in India do not eat egg, so the default recipe would be without egg.

About how to cook them:

People at home rarely make naan -- it is something you would have out or at a wedding or somewhere with a tandoor. This is why there are so many variations -- it is just people adapting as best they can.

If you have a pizza or baking stone, you can get a really good naan by preheating the stone at your highest oven temperature, and just putting the naan onto it to cook -- this simulates a tandoor.

Otherwise, I have found the best thing is a griddle, again as hot as you can get it.

It works best if you keep the dough soft and roll it out with a little oil as thin as you can get it (it will "shrink back", so make it bigger than you actually want it).

General baking tips:

Baking soda will kill the yeast and yogurt bacteria. You can add it as "insurance", but do this at the end after fermentation. They also don't like salt (but salt will make your bread taste a LOT better), so also add that at the end.

I have not tried mixing yeast and yogurt, but it doesn't sound like a great idea. Maybe it is ok if you either reduce the amount of yogurt a lot, or add it again at the end after fermentation.

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Great answer :) –  Vass Jul 12 at 12:40

Maida, awesome, I get it from this importer in town: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maida_flour

Its almost the worst flour for you, but Naan is a "fast-food", so you can forgive the lack of nutrition for the flavour.

The rest is covered in the accepted answer.

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Naan is a catch-all term for flat, leavened bread throughout the asian subcontinent. There are many, many variations which have developed depending on what ingredients were typically to hand in the different regions. So there are many equally traditional and authentic variations. In other words the answer is that there is no answer, try a few and find out what works for you.

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3  
I fully agree with the spirit of this answer, and upvoted. However, I think a true Naan is always cooked in a tandoor -- there are other names for flatbreads cooked on a pan. Naan recipes that don't use a tandoor are a compromise. –  slim May 14 '13 at 12:16
    
That's a good point @slim, method of cooking is the only continuity. If you don't have a tandoor you can try and replicate the effect, but it isn't the same. –  GdD May 14 '13 at 13:56

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