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Naan Explained

posted Jun 9, 2011, 8:01 PM by Dustin Romero   [ updated Dec 6, 2011, 3:27 PM ]

Finished Naan resting in our basket

The first thing I want to get out of the way is that if you're reading this article in hopes of making naan at home, you can't. Now, if you'd like to know why, the rest of the article will both educate you on naan and explain why you can't make it yourself. So, what is it that's so special about naan that you can't make it at home? Simple, a tandoor. A tandoor is a clay pot oven that heats up to 700 to 900 degrees. That's pretty dang hot, ask my arm hairs. As though the heat weren't enough the tandoor has a few other way, other than direct heat, of cooking the bread. Three heat sources to be semi-exact. First, the direct heat from the flame, second, the convection (air flow) of hot air moving up through the oven and third, the clay walls cook the oven side, sort of like a griddle.

The roots of the word naan come from the Persian language and was likely promulgated by conquering Muslims. Naan, as adopted in India and many of it's neighbors including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia and other regions, is generally a flat bread baked on the wall of a Tandoor oven.

As naan is usually a bread leavened with yeast the process of making naan includes proofing before flattening the dough and cooking. The time in oven is generally quite short, as Tandoor ovens are very hot, total cooking time usually takes right around a minute. As with other breads milk, yogurt and other dough conditioners can be added to the dough to make it heavier and have a softer crumb (the inside of the bread). Since the bread cooks rapidly and at high heat it has a thin, crisp crust while maintaining a soft interior crumb. This combination of thin crunchy exterior with moist soft interior gives naan the characteristic that distinguishes it above other flat breads...and is why you can't make it at home in your sissy oven or on your sissy griddle. So there!

Fun facts about our naan: Our naan is made very simply, much more simple that many other restaurants cook their naan. We use only flour, water, yeast salt and oil. Instead of dairy like milk or yogurt, which we're of the opinion produces too heavy of a crumb, we use a higher gluten flour, which has more protein and makes the bread chewier. Because our tandoor is smaller, the heat is also not well distributed, so we get a few burn marks, usually on the bottom tip, or the larger bubbles. Also, if you didn't notice when we ticked off our ingredients, our naan is free of any animal products, so it's vegan...by nature.

Some people tell us our naan is the best naan around. I agree, but in the words of reading rainbow, don't take our word for it.

Cheers!
~Dustin


Balls of dough are set out to proof (rise) and then flattened.

Naan is placed in a teardrop shape for tradition, I believe it's to keep the bottom burning to a minimum.

This isn't a very good picture of the Ghadi, but it's a ball of straw wrapped in cloth to slap the bread to the walls of the oven.

As the yeast dies it screams (kidding), which releases CO2, filling the dough with small (sometimes large) pockets of air. Yum!

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