Chef Floyd Cardoz knows a thing or two about Indian baking. His restaurant, Paowalla in New York, is dedicated to Indian breads, and he turns out fluffy leavened rolls and yeasty flatbreads using a set of two massive tandoors and a wood-fired oven.
His naan recipe, adapted here for home kitchens, is fluffy and tender. You can eat it alongside elaborate Indian meals or drizzled with ghee and honey. Or repurpose the dough for any number of filled naan kulcha recipes. Cardoz advises you keep an eye on the dough while mixing, since the consistency and amount of water required varies with temperature and humidity.
Cardoz bakes all of his flatbreads in a massive tandoor, but he suggests home cooks use a pizza stone in a very hot oven to mimic the effect. For best results, pre-heat the pizza stone for a full hour before baking to get it—and keep it—hot during baking as you open and close the oven.
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar, divided
- 8 1⁄3 cups (2 ½ lb.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tbsp. plus 1 ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- 2 tbsp. canola oil, plus more for greasing
- Melted ghee, for brushing
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast with 1 teaspoon sugar and 3 tablespoons lukewarm water. Set aside until the yeast has helped form tiny bubbles on the surface of the water, about 5 minutes.
- Add 2 ½ cups cold water to the yeast mixture, followed by the flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Mix on the lowest speed until a mass of dough begins to form, 3-3 ½ minutes. If at this point, all the flour is not hydrated and the dough seems very dry, add 2-3 additional tablespoons of cold water and mix on low speed 30 seconds more. Increase to second speed and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 minutes more. Reduce to first speed, add the canola oil and let mix until the oil is evenly incorporated and the dough is homogenous, 2-3 minutes. (The dough should be very sticky and soft, but very smooth.)
- Lightly oil a medium bowl with canola oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turning it over a few times to thoroughly coat with the oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic and set aside at room temperature until the dough is inflated, very gassy, and nearly doubled in size, 80-90 minutes.
- Generously dust a clean countertop with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Divide the dough into 11 equal (6-oz.) pieces, gently rounding each into a ball.
- Lightly oil a large baking sheet with canola oil place the dough rounds on top, spacing them evenly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.
- An hour before you are ready to bake, preheat a pizza stone in a 500° oven.
- When the stone is heated, generously flour a countertop. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place one of the balls of dough on the floured surface (cover the remaining balls with a clean towel or sheet of plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out while you work). Use your hands or a rolling pin to stretch and shape the dough into rough 8-inch rounds. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
- Bake the naan: Working quickly so that the oven does not lose heat between loading, use your hands or a pizza peel to transfer 2 to 3 pieces of naan to your pizza stone. (Bake as many pieces as you can fit on the stone without overlapping or crowding.) Immediately close the oven and bake until the breads are irregularly puffed and browned in places on the bottom, 6-7 minutes.
- Use a spatula or pizza peel to remove the naan from the stone. Transfer to a clean baking sheet, brush the top lightly with ghee and cover with a dry towel while you continue baking the rest of the naan. Serve warm.