Instant Pot naan bread is a breeze to make at home! Soft, pillowy in texture with a hint of a crispy exterior. Use the Instant Pot to proof the dough, making this the quickest way to make naan from scratch.
(For detailed tips, step-by-step instructions and substitutions, please read through the this entire article)
Naan is an incredibly easy and simple bread to make at home. Flatbreads such as naan and pita bread don’t need to proof for too long, unlike regular breads. In under two hours, naan can be made at home– including the time for proofing the dough.
This simple recipe results in pillowy and soft naan that pairs perfectly well with curries, sauces and stews. Indian curries such as paneer tikka masala, chicken tikka masala, chicken curry, vegan korma curry, saag murgh pair very well with naan.
Once you start making naan at home, you’ll never go back to buying store-bought naan, which is often a poor substitute for the real thing, right?
What is naan made of?
Naan is usually made with very simple ingredients – flour, salt, water, yogurt, and yeast, and is traditionally cooked in the tandoor (clay oven). After playing around with a few recipes for naan, I highly recommend adding some milk to enrich the dough, as it yields a soft textured naan. Naan recipes do not call for eggs to be added.
Tips for making naan bread at home:
Use Bread Flour: Naan can be made with either bread flour or all-purpose flour, but I find that bread flour can make naan more elastic and pillowy in texture - which is what we are aiming for!
Use yogurt: Yogurt is key to obtaining the tender, soft texture that is characteristic of the naan. Do not replace yogurt with milk, as we need some of that tang that comes with yogurt.
Yeast: Yeast is what makes naan puff up, and gives it those characteristic air pockets or bubbles. Do not substitute yeast with leaving agents such as baking powder or baking soda.
Speed up the proofing process with an Instant Pot: The Instant Pot’s ‘Yogurt’ mode creates the perfect environment for proofing the dough, and all you need is 1 hour to get that dough to double in size. Without the IP, the time taken almost doubles – you will need around 90-120 minutes for the dough to double in size.
How to make naan without a tandoor oven:
Traditionally, naan is baked in a tandoor (clay oven) which is hot enough to give it that characteristic crispy outer layer, pillowy soft inside and those beautiful char marks on the outside. To make it at home, though, I’ve realised that using a cast iron pan to cook the naan comes very close to the real deal.
When using a cast iron pan, just make sure that the pan is hot enough before cooking the naan. To test and see if the pan is hot enough, flick a few drops of water into the pan. The water should evaporate immediately. The pan is now hot enough to be used to cook the naan . Take a look at the video instructions in this recipe for cooking naan on a cast iron pan on the stovetop.
Step by step process for making naan at home:
Start by warming the water and milk mixture to activate the yeast (if using activ dry yeast) - I use half a cup of milk mixed with water, and warm it just enough that it activates the yeast but not kills it. If you are using instant yeast, skip this step and add the yeast directly to the flour.
Add the warm milk to the bowl of a stand mixer and add sugar, letting the yeast activate. Once activated, add yogurt and oil, followed by the bread flour (or all-purpose-flour).
Add salt and knead the dough with the dough hook attachment. Alternatively, use your hands to combine all the ingredients into a slightly sticky dough. If the dough feels dry, add a little more water to the mixture. It is important that the dough is hydrated enough.
Once the dough is prepared, turn to your Instant Pot. Brush some vegetable oil into the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Place the dough in the inner pot and set the IP on Yogurt mode, for 1 hour. You can use either the lid of the Instant Pot or a glass lid to cover the dough while it proofs. The dough should double in size within 1 hour.
After the dough has risen, take it out, dust it with a little flour and flatten it on the countertop. Cut the dough into equal portions and let the portions sit for 10 minutes, covered with a kitchen towel. Dust each portion with a little flour and roll out each portion using a rolling pin.
Heat a cast iron pan on the stovetop untill hot. Then place the rolled out dough on the cast iron pan and heat untill bubbles start to form. Sprinkle a few nigella seeds on the surface of the naan and flip it over to cook the other side. Once cooked, brush the top of the naan with some ghee or melted butter and serve.
You could also garnish it with some chopped coriander and Nigella seeds for that authentic restaurant experience.
Some commonly asked questions about naan:
What is the difference between naan and pita bread?
While naan dough uses yogurt and often milk, pita is made without added dairy. Pita breads are hence less dense and have bigger air pockets than naan does.
Can I make gluten-free naan?
Yes, you can! Although I have personal not tried making this recipe with gluten-free flour, here is a gluten-free naan recipe that has been tried and tested. This recipe does use eggs though.
Instant Pot Naan Bread
- Cast Iron Pan
- 2.5 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour 2.5 cups of flours = 350 grams of flour (cup size used is 1 cup=250ml)
- ¼ cup milk + ¼ cup water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp active dry yeast or use fresh or instant yeast
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup yogurt
- 1.5 tsp salt
- Mix the milk and water and heat it on the stovetop, such that it is just warm to the touch. Ensure that the milk-water mixture is not hot, as heat will kill the yeast. Once warmed, take it off the heat and keep aside. (skip this step if using instant yeast)
- To the warm milk-water mixture, add the sugar and mix to dissolve. Add the yeast and stir. Keep aside for 8-10 minutes, until the yeast is activated and the mixture is frothy.
- If you have a stand mixer, then attach the dough hook. In the bowl of the stand mixer, add the bread flour, followed by the milk-water-yeast mixture.
- In a small bowl, combine the oil and yogurt. Whisk together and add the mixture to the rest of the ingredients. Add salt.
- On medium speed, mix together all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer until it forms a dough. The dough should not be too dry, and will feel slightly sticky but will come together easily into a ball. Turn out the dough on the counter and knead it for 2-3 minutes. Shape it into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water to hydrate and knead.
- Brush a teaspoon of oil into the inner pot of the Instant Pot. This will prevent the dough from sticking into the pot while it proofs. Now place the dough ball in the Instant Pot.
- Set the Instant Pot to the ‘Yogurt’ setting (Normal mode) for 1 hour. Cover the Instant Pot with a glass lid of the lid of the Instant Pot with the vent in 'venting' position.
- After one hour, the dough will double in size. Take it out, flatten the dough and cut it into 8 equal-sized pieces. Leave the pieces to proof for 10-15 minutes, covered with a towel to prevent them from drying out.
- As the dough is proofing, pre-heat a cast-iron pan.
- After 10-15 minutes, the dough portions would have risen slightly again. Take a piece of dough, roll out with a little flour, and place it on the preheated cast iron pan. Keep nigella seeds and melted butter or ghee handy. As the naan starts to cook, bubbles will appear. Sprinkle the nigella seeds and gently press them on the surface of the dough. Let the naan puff up and cook on one side before flipping it over and cooking the other side.
- Once cooked, brush the naan with some melted butter or ghee and keep aside. Continue with the rest of the dough.
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