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