Being a big fan of wild yeast I had to make a sourdough version of naan. What is so special about sourdough naan, you ask ? The answer lies in the depth of flavor , and of course there is the added nutritional value. Naan by any method is a fantastic flat bread. The sourdough version takes it a step further..
Converting any regular bread recipe to its wild yeast version is like a journey back in time , to an age where commercial packaged yeast was not common or even available . Bakers and home cooks used to ferment a variety of things , fruit peels , grains etc. to make homemade yeast cultures. Once the starter culture is created , regular feeding and maintenance regimens ensured that the yeast population is active and healthy. Often times a piece of dough , made with these starters is saved and allowed to ferment for longer periods typically overnight or 8 to 10 hours to be used as the starter for the next batch.
This recipe uses a simple sourdough starter at 100% hydration. If you do not have a starter here is the recipe to make your own. Typically naan is made with all purpose flour. But to my delight I have found that one about 1/3 of the flour can be substituted with whole wheat flour (Atta) without compromising the puffy soft texture. Tasty and healthy , isn’t that a win for all ?
This recipe is very similar to the regular naan recipe .
Take the fed and active starter in a large mixing bowl. Add flours, salt, oil and yogurt to it.Stir well. Slowly pour the water and knead a few times to moisten all the flour. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes. Uncover and start kneading. The dough should be a little sticky. As you knead the dough becomes less sticky more pliable. If after a few minutes of kneading the dough is still very tacky add a few tablespoons of flour. Knead for 10 . Form into a ball. Transfer to an oiled bowl, turn the dough ball to coat all sides with oil . Cover and let rise for at least 4 hours till doubled in volume. Under normal temperatures it takes at least 4 hours but if the ambient temperature is high and the dough seems to be rising very fast place it in the refrigerator to slow it down. Alternately the dough can be refrigerated for longer rise for up to 48 hours.
Punch down the risen dough and divide into 8 portions. Form each portion into a ball. cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Lightly oil the work surface . Place one dough ball on it and using the heel of your palm stretch the dough out to an oval / teardrop shape . The dough should not be sticky at this point but if it is spread a little bit of oil in the palms to prevent sticking.
My favorite way to cook this is a combination of stove top and broiler. This is the quickest and most energy efficient way to do it at home . Heat a thick bottomed pan – like a cast iron griddle till it is smoking hot . Turn the broiler on and place a cookie sheet about 4 inches away from it . Place the shaped naan on the hot griddle and cook for 30 seconds. By this time bubbles start forming on top . Use a wide turner or a pizza peel to transfer the naan to the cookie sheet , without flipping . Let it cook for a minute or till the bubbles are fully formed and the tops begin to brown . Remove from the oven and brush with oil (optional) , and keep covered .
If you have a pizza stone, set the pizza stone in the lowest rack of the oven . Heat the oven set to the highest setting . Once the oven is preheated , keep it on for 20 minutes or so for the stone to absorb as much heat as possible. Place the shaped naan directly on top of the stone and cook for 2 to three minutes until it has puffed up and light brown spots appear on top .
These can be made the same way in the grill.
Naan is best served warm. The dough on the other hand stores well in the fridge or freezer.