Happy September! I’ve been playing around with ways to use my sourdough starter that don’t involve turning on the oven and this relatively easy sourdough skillet naan ticks all the boxes for me. Delicious carbs. √ Easy prep. √ Quick-cooking. √ Tons of uses. √ Freezes well. √
I shared some of the processes of making this sourdough skillet naan in my Instagram stories last week and got a ton of requests for the recipe. I was making a large batch to go with a luncheon I was making for the teachers and staff at Iley’s school. Thank you for the interest in this recipe. Happy to be sharing it with you today!
What is Naan?
If you’ve ever eaten at an Indian restaurant you’ve probably tried naan, which is a delicious buttery Indian flatbread traditionally cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven. The dough is usually made with yogurt and ghee and is leavened with yeast. It can be stuffed, buttered, or served plain, and accompanies saucy dishes to sop up the best part of any dish: the gravy.
When researching traditional naan recipes I watched Manjula’s Kitchen’s recipe video for Tawa Naan to study the ingredients and process as a jumping-off point. Their videos are wonderful, do give them a watch. A tawa is a flat or concave griddle-like pan.
Cast Iron Cooking
Since we don’t have a tandoor or a tawa the next best baking vessel for naan, in my opinion, is a cast-iron skillet and a lid. I love cast-iron for baking bread in my oven and for cooking tortillas, so it seemed like the logical choice for cooking these flatbreads. Bonus: you don’t have to turn on the oven.
I found that using a lid for the first half of cooking helps hold in the steam and create large air bubbles, which make a light and airy flatbread that’s soft and pliable. Any pot or pan lid that is roughly the same size as your skillet should work fine. The lid doesn’t have to be cast iron. I used a stainless steel lid to one of our large stockpots.
Make it Sourdough
For this sourdough version, I used a fed and active 100% hydration starter, mixed and kneaded the dough in my stand mixer, and let it bulk ferment at room temperature until it doubled in volume. In my coastal New England climate, this time of year bulk fermentation took about 6-8 hours. Bulk times will vary depending on the climate, weather, season, humidity, etc.
The recipe below is vegan friendly, but you can use plain yogurt and ghee in place of the milk and olive oil in equal measures. This sourdough skillet naan is fairly easy to make and is great to keep in the freezer to use as you need it. Try it instead of toast with your morning eggs, for a twist on sandwich bread, or a swap for pita with hummus. I’ll be making regular batches of this sourdough naan to keep in the freezer and use for school lunches.
tips and tricks
- Lightly oiling the skillet between batches, just a few drops, helps keep the naan from drying out. I used extra virgin olive oil, but any oil or ghee would work.
- Keep an eye on the temperature of the skillet and adjust the stovetop burner as needed.
- You can stuff the naan with roasted garlic for garlic naan. After you roll out the dough to about the size of your hand, place a spoonful of roasted garlic on the dough and fold it in half then continue rolling it out so that the garlic is sandwiched into the center of the dough.
Sourdough Skillet Naan
Yield 16 flatbreads
This sourdough skillet naan is a great way to use your sourdough starter without turning on the oven. The resulting flatbread is soft and buttery and makes the perfect vessel for pretty much anything. Serve it with curries, soups, or stews, as sandwich bread, or eat it hot with butter straight from the skillet.
- 50g fed and active 100% hydration starter
- 120g (1/2 cup) unsweetened soy milk - or milk of your choice
- 5g (1 teaspoon) apple cider vinegar
- 115g (1/2 cup) water
- 12g (1 tablespoon) extra-virgin olive oil or ghee
- 21g (1 tablespoon) honey or sweetener of your choice
- 11 g (2 teaspoons) kosher salt
- 500g all-purpose flour
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium-sized mixing bowl add everything except for the all-purpose flour. Combine with a fork to break up the starter.
- Then add the flour and mix on the lowest setting with a dough hook attachment or knead by hand until a soft smooth dough comes together or about 8 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with a damp towel or beeswax wrap and let the dough bulk ferment until it has grown by 70%-100% in volume, which could take anywhere from 4-12 hours or longer depending on your climate.
- After bulk ferment, preheat a large cast-iron skillet on the stovetop over low heat.
- Divide the dough into 16 equal portions and dust them and the work surface with flour.
- Then roll out 2 pieces of dough into flat oblong/oval shapes about 8"x4".
- After you roll out 2 pieces, lightly oil the cooking surface then lay the rolled out pieces of dough flat into the skillet. Bubbles should start to form immediately in the dough. Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid.
- Cook the flatbread for 2-3 minutes with the lid on. Then remove the lid and flip the flatbread. It may puff up a bit after you flip it. Cook the other side, uncovered for another 2-3 minutes. Both sides should have dark brown spots and the bread should be soft and fold easily.
- Remove the bread with kitchen tongs and lightly brush both sides with olive oil or ghee. Place them on a plate and cover with a kitchen towel while you cook the remaining batches.
- Roll out the next batch while the previous batch is cooking. Make sure to lightly oil the skillet between batches. Repeat steps 6-9 until all of the dough is cooked.
- You can replace the milk and apple cider vinegar for plain unstrained yogurt.
- A large cast-iron skillet with sides works best for this recipe. A griddle would work, but you would need a domed lid to cover the dough while it cooks or "MacGyver" a tinfoil lid.
- Lightly oiling the skillet between batches is an important step and helps keep the bread soft and pliable.
- You may have to adjust the heat level throughout the cooking process. If the dough is browning too fast then lower the heat, or if no air bubbles form when the dough hits the skillet then raise the heat a bit.
- Using a lid for the first half of cooking helps to hold in steam and create larger air pockets for a light and airy finished flatbread. Kind of like "oven spring" when baking sourdough bread.
- Freeze the leftover naan in a freezer bag to use within 6 months. Defrost and warm them in the toaster as you need.
- This recipe can be doubled to make a larger batch.
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