Basic Central Asian Naan (rhymes with lawn)
- 2 tsp yeast
- 2.5 cups warm water
- 5-7 cups flour (white, wheat, or a mix- white is most often used in Central Asia now)
- 2 tsp salt
Mix the water and yeast in a large bowl, then add 3 cups of flour. Stir for about a minute or 100 times in the same direction to start developing the gluten, then add the salt and as much more flour as you need to make a nice dough. Knead for about 8 minutes till it's smooth and elastic. Let rise till doubled, 1-2 hours.
Put a baking stone on the lowest rack of your oven, remove the rest of the racks, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Punch the dough down and divide into 6 pieces (divide it into 4 pieces if you want bigger loaves). Working with two rounds at a time, roll the dough into 10-inch rounds. Let sit for about 10 minutes to rise.
Prick the middle of the rounds with a chekich (picture on the left) or a fork. Leave a 1.5-inch rim. If you like, you can roll the rim up a bit to make it fatter, or just hope it rises a lot in the oven. Slide or slap the dough onto the hot stone and bake till golden, 8-10 minutes (they look just right in the pictures; you'll note that the shape and size of the rim changes some, but they're always cooked to this same color).
Or just move to Central Asia and make sure your apartments is across the street from a couple of tandoor bakeries.
This is just basic naan. There are a zillion things you can do with it to spice it up, like topping it with cumin or onions or green onions or sesame seeds or really anything else that sounds good to you.It is eaten all over Central Asia and tastes best just out of a tandoor. But a baking stone does a pretty good job too.