Despite being old enough to know better, I still shriek with delight in Indian restaurants when the waiter lowers the family-sized naan bread onto the table like a spacecraft landing. I particularly enjoy suddenly jostling into place as everyone tries to get the most garlicky and buttery bit. This is my Aunty Harsha’s famous and incredibly reliable naan recipe, but transformed into a sharing oven naan.
Makes 4 big sharing naans (for 6 to 8 people)
½ cup unsalted butter
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 cups white bread flour (plus extra to dust)
4 tablespoons yogurt
1 x ¼-ounce packet of dried yeast
1 level teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup whole milk, hand hot
nigella seeds, to sprinkle
Preheat the oven to 475°F, move a wire rack to the top of the oven, and lightly oil a large thin baking pan.
To make the garlic butter, put the butter into a small saucepan over low to medium heat and, when melted, add the garlic and a couple of big pinches of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, then take off the heat.
Place the flour in a large bowl. Make a well and add 2 tablespoons of oil, the yogurt, yeast, baking powder, sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix through with your fingers until the ingredients resemble breadcrumbs, then add the warm milk, little by little, and mix again until it comes together into a dough.
Place the dough on a clean and well-floured surface. The dough will be very sticky at first, soft but fairly robust. Knead for around 5 minutes, then scrape any dough off your hands, using a spoon, and settle the dough by rubbing a teaspoon of oil all over it.
Transfer the dough to a bowl in which it can double in size. Cover it with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for at least an hour. (Mum leaves hers in the airing cupboard; I leave mine in an oven that’s been heated to 225°F for 10 minutes, then switched off.)
When the dough has risen, separate it into 4 pieces. Put 3 pieces into a bowl and cover while you roll the first. Roll it into a ball and flatten it between your palms. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a triangular shape, around 10 inches long and 10 inches at its widest point. Add a little oil while you’re rolling if need be.
In the meantime, put the baking pan into the oven for 5 minutes. When hot, lay the naan on the tray and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Cook for 5 minutes on the top shelf, then remove. The naan should be soft, fluffy, and cooked through, with no doughy spots. Brush or drizzle on the garlic butter, and repeat with the other naan. Keep them warm by creating a foil nest for them, and try not to eat them before serving.