These may be called in different names regionally so I use the term flatbread instead of Naan to remove any ambiguity. Flatbread is an ‘umbrella’ category, so any bread that is flat qualifies.
So what differentiate this recipe with other naan recipes you find out there? You may ask. Well as the name suggests I am using sourdough starter (a levain) to help the batter ferment (rise) instead of commercial yeast. Even though this sounds like something new, this was the way most bread are made before the commercial yeast was ever invented.
You can sometimes call a recipe “sourdough” by just adding sourdough starter in the recipe and still using commercial yeast or baking powder to leaven the product. This is very popular these days and I think the idea behind this is to introduce flavor, good bacteria and some nutrients to the product.
If I call something sourdough, I usually mean that the product is leavened using a sourdough starter (levain) and there is no commercial yeast or other leavening agents used in the recipe.
If I use sourdough discard for flavor or mealy for the purpose of reducing wastage, I would mention it in the recipe and the title, so that you are clear about the function of the sourdough in that particular recipe.
Apart from using a fed ripe starter (levain) and fermenting for a longer period, the rest of the process is very similar to usual process of making naan bread/flatbread.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix using a spatula. When everything start to stick together (hydrated) gently knead just to bring everything together into a ball. Do not knead like bread or your flatbread will be tough.
This should be a soft, a little wet dough. So use extra flour to help get it to a manageable stage.
Place this in the bowl, cover and let ferment for 4-5 hours at room temperature (25°C)
What we are looking for is a slight expansion of the dough. It doesn’t have to be doubled in size but considerably larger. Now Close the lid tight and refrigerate for the long slow fermentation. This help develop flavor.
Tip: You can start this process in the evening (around 4 pm-ish) let it ferment and place in the fridge when you go to bed (around 8-9 pm). It will be ready for dinner next day!
When you are ready to make the flatbreads ( about an hour or two before you plan to make) pull the dough out and let it thaw for half an hour.
Place it on a generously floured surface and dust with some more flour.
Divide the dough into 8 or 10 roughly equal pieces.
Here I have divided it in to 8 but I thought they were way too big and went with 10
Shape each dough piece into tight dough balls. Use flour to stop them from sticking.
Once done, cover and let these rest for minimum 30 minutes. 1 or 1.5 hours is the best as it will slightly puff up again. This will give you fluffier bread.
Before cooking the flatbread, prepare the butter. Melt the butter in microwave and add the chopped garlic to hot butter. Do not heat butter with garlic in it as it may cook the garlic and it will taste a bit off.
If you don’t like garlic, leave it out and use just butter. Or infuse butter with herbs like thyme, sage.
Butter is not mandatory, but it helps keep flatbreads moist for longer also adds buttery flavor.
Generously flour the bench and place a dough piece. Dust with more flour and flatten using your fingers.
Then use a rolling pin to gently roll out to about 2-3 mm thickness.
This is what it should look like. It doesn’t have to be oval. Use a little flour while you roll out, you can brush off the excess before placing it on the pan.
In the mean time heat a skillet/griddle over medium heat. Cast iron works best! But you can use a non stick pan instead. Control the heat, depending on how your flatbread cooks.
Place the flatbread on the preheated pan and cook both sides until done. Check the video below!
Once cooked, remove from heat and apply melted garlic butter on both sides, while the bread is still piping hot.
Continue with the rest and serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce or curry
For the dough
- 350 g all purpose flour + extra
- 150 g plain full-fat yogurt
- 100 g mature sourdough starter
- 100 g water
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp. butter or more as needed
- 1 clove of garlic roughly chopped
- Place all the above ingredients in a bowl
- Use a spatula to start mixing and when flour is all hydrated, use your hands to continue mixing
- Take the dough on to a floured surface and use hands to knead gently
- Use extra flour as needed and try to bring the dough together to a rough dough ball
- It is okay to have little lumps here and there
- Do not knead excessively like bread, or your flatbread will end up tough
- Place the dough in the bowl, loosely cover and let ferment at room temperature for about 4-5 hours
- We need the fermentation process to kick start
- When the dough has grown considerably (doesn’t have to be doubled in size) cover tightly ( place in a air tight container) and place in the refrigerator for the slow long fermentation
- This can be anywhere from 18-24 hours, even a little longer is fine
- About an hour or two before you want to make the naan, remove the dough from the fridge
- Let it thaw for about 30 minutes
- Bring the dough on to a floured surface and dust with more flour
- Divide the dough in to 8-10 equal pieces
- Shape these pieces into tight little dough balls (just like shaping making bugger buns) use extra flour to dust
- Cover these dough balls and let these rest for about 1 – 1.5 hours ( minimum 30 minutes)
- Prepare the butter. Melt butter in the microwave, add the chopped up garlic and stir. Set aside
- Pre-heat a cast iron skillet/griddle or a non-stick pan over medium heat
- Take a dough ball and flatten it with your palm. Use flour generously as it will be slightly sticky
- Use a rolling pin to gently roll out to about 2-3mm thickness (this is a rough measure, slightly thicker is fine)
- Cook both sides of the flat bread, until puffed up and inside is cooked ( about 1 minute each side, turning a few times)
- Check the video above for cooking directions)
- Once done, remove from heat and brush both sides with butter immediately
- Continue with the rest and serve warm
Good reminder. I need to get my starter out to have naan with the curry I am making tomorrow
I love how easy it is to control/retard timing of sourdough. I’ve found it much harder to go wrong than with yeast dough.
Exactly. Sourdough is so forgiving
Best sourdough naan recipe I tried. Posted video at qhttps://www.instagram.com/p/CFjktX1JOL2/?igshid=6htls5sduj04
WOW! Glad you liked them.
Can the dough be divided and frozen at the end of the fermentation so it’s quicker to cook some when required?
I haven’t tried that Alison, so I am not sure. Let me give that a try and update the post in the future!
I have frozen cooked flatbread though. They can be thawed and refreshed in an oven.
Thank you so much…Can’t wait to try! What are your favorite dishes and dips to serve this with?
We usually have this with Daal curry or Sri Lankan Chicken curry.
I have both the recipes on the blog under bonus recipes
The recipe looks great, but I am worrying if baking it on my artisan stone oven bread.
PS. I live in Brazil, once traveling in Sri Lankan I discovered loved new flavors and places (Arugam Bay, the best S2 )
I think a stone oven will be great as traditionally naan bread is cooked in very hot Tandoor ovens. Give it a try!
Yes! Sri Lanka is full of beautiful natural places and amazing food 🙂
Dear Vindi, can I call this bread as Arabic Bread?
I baked it today, everybody loved, although mine looks like a balloon , it came out of the stone oven not flat as should be
They balloon sometimes and that’s okay. I am not sure about origin but it is of Indian decent as far as I know but may be I am wrong