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I miss Indian food and especially good naan bread. I haven't really tried it, but I wanted to test if it's possible to make naan without a tandoor? Has anyone tried this, do you have some good tips and do you manage to make it just as good as the naan you get in India?

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8 Answers 8

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Never having been to India, I've only had naan from Indian restaurants and frozen from the supermarket. That said, I have made it with some success before.

The best method I've used is to grill (American) it. You can do it with a gas grill (barbecue) set to high, or with the hottest of hot charcoal. It doesn't quite approach the 900 F (480 C) typical of a tandoor, but it's close, especially with charcoal. Simply oil the grill and do 2-3 minutes per side.

The next best method I've tried is using a pizza stone in a blazing hot oven. The cook times are similar.

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I second the pizza stone idea; it works a treat for me. –  Iuls Aug 4 '10 at 19:01
    
What about a pizza stone on the grill? –  Chris Cudmore Aug 5 '10 at 16:24
    
@chris: I've never tried it. However, I imagine that it would significantly restrict the airflow over the coals and thus result in a significantly lower temperature. –  hobodave Aug 5 '10 at 16:41
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True. It depends on the size of the grill. –  Chris Cudmore Aug 5 '10 at 17:02
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In the US, at least, the typical pizza stone would occlude at least 80% of most grills. –  hobodave Aug 5 '10 at 19:03

If it's something you want to eat often, you could make your own tandoor, or use a large terracotta pot over your charcoal grill.

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If you do decide to build a tandoor like crazy Alton Brown, do not forget those gloves. Reaching over a 900 degree jet engine is not comfortable at all. –  hobodave Aug 5 '10 at 16:43
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@hobodave - And burning arm hair really stinks. –  Tim Gilbert Aug 5 '10 at 18:44

I've made naan on a (propane, american) grill with no problems, straight on the grate. (maybe singed a little bit, that's what you want for naan). Well, no problem grilling; I rolled them all out while I was still inside, and had them stacked up with dry waxed paper between them, and the weight of the stack meant that by the time I got maybe 5-6 of 'em done, the whole stack had glued itself together, which slowed me down quite a bit.

I've also done it stovetop in a cast iron pan to get a good sear, and then transfered to the oven to finish cooking while I made up the rest. As I was rolling 'em as I went, I didn't have that sticking problem.

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I do pita bread on the grill, and I also use wax paper to carry the bread outside. It helps a lot if you lightly dust each layer of wax paper with flour before slapping the pita on, and the top of the pita before the next layer of wax paper. –  Tim Gilbert Aug 5 '10 at 2:37

I have tried baking with a pizza stone and tiles in the oven, but I get the best results from frying the naan in a cast-iron pan that has been lightly greased with oil on medium-high heat.

I admit that this is very far from a tandoor, but surprisingly naan that was fried turned out way better in terms of texture, air-bubbles, and flavour.

Admittedly I have never grilled it because I only cook one or two loaves at a time (keeping the dough in the fridge until it runs out), so I can't really justify firing up a charcoal grill.

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If you have a chapati pan and a gas grill then you can have a good go. I think the secret to naan is that both sides have to cook at the same time, so if you get the pan very hot and then put your naan under a preheated grill, that's probably the closest you'll get without a tandoor.

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I miss my naan and gave up cooking it at home when I found I couldn't replicate it.

However, I did find roti-chapatis that you can cook in seconds on a skillet and come out very tasty and fresh, despite keeping forever in the fridge.

It's still indian bread, very tasty, and not totally disimilar. I filled my need when cooking curry at home.

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Yes, you can make perfectly acceptable naan breads without the need for a tandoori oven.

The keys are very high heat, ie under a domestic grill (watch while they puff up and brown) and yoghurt. You can also make them with baking powder without the need for yeast, which produces surprisingly good results.

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Although it doesn't simulate a tandoor, I stopped my quest for making the best naan after seeing the result from a Dutch oven on max heat. Fantastic. Lid on keeps the moisture in and stops it from going too crispy or hard, it bubbles up and parts of it get that slight charring.

Use a cheap Dutch oven as the charring marked my expensive one.

Try it, you'll be surprised!

I assume you're making the dough. I had a friend who tried it and said it wasn't that great. Then they were simply reheating those cardboard pre-packaged things.

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