Naan is a thick flatbread enjoyed throughout the Indian subcontinent and western Asia. It can be leavened or unleavened, stuffed or plain. This one, a simple leavened bread that is lightly flavored with sesame, is pareve, vegetarian, and dairy-free—it’s a simple version of the traditional naan, which is often made with clarified butter or yogurt. This puffy, fun flatbread is perked up with a kiss of sesame oil and seeds that makes it a perfect accompaniment for an Indian-style vegan or meat-based meal.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1¼ cup warm water (see Kitchen Tip)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, divided
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for greasing
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup sesame seeds, preferably a mixture of white and black
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar and stir to dissolve. Let stand for 10 minutes; it should bubble and foam gently. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of the salt on a sheet of parchment paper.
- Place the bowl on its mixer stand and attach the dough hook. Add half the flour mixture and mix at low speed to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the remaining flour mixture and knead with the dough hook for 3 to 4 minutes, until a smooth dough forms.
- Oil a large mixing bowl well. Remove the dough from the bowl of the stand mixer and place it into the greased bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in volume.
- Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Place the ball of dough on it and divide it into 12 smaller balls of equal size. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each into a ½-inch thick round.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Mix the remaining olive oil and the sesame oil together in a small bowl. Brush the individual flatbreads (naan) with the oil mixture, and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Working with one at a time, place the naan in the preheated skillet and fry for 1½ to 2 minutes, until brown on one side. Brush with the oil mixture and scatter with some of the sesame seeds. The naan will puff and bubble; then flip and cook for 1 more minute. Remove to a plate, cover with aluminum foil, and repeat with the remaining naan.
- Yeast is a little living creature, and it needs special handling. You need warm water to activate it and get it started eating and bubbling, but if the water is too warm (more than 110°F), you’ll kill it and it simply won’t work at all.
- Naan will freeze, tightly wrapped and stored in a resealable bag, for up to 2 months. Reheat in the oven or toaster oven.