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why does my naan always turn out like pita bread?

I've tried to make naan 3 or 4 times, each time trying a new recipe and each time it turned out like pita bread instead of naan. They come out looking like this (for example): http://www.blogcdn.com/www.slashfood..... They are very tasty, but just not naan.

Any suggestions for what could be going wrong? I don't know if it's that I haven't found the right recipe, or if I'm not using the proper oven temperature (I've tried broiling, using a pizza stone, and using a cookie sheet at 400 degrees), or if I'm not kneading and shaping the dough correctly.

I joke that since I am Middle Eastern, my flat bread attempts are destined to turn out like pita bread no matter what, but seriously, what am I doing wrong?

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  1. What are the ingredients in the recipe you are using?

    1 Reply
    1. re: rasputina

      I've used several different recipes over the last year or so. Here are the only ones I can specifically remember using: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/naan/ & http://indianfood.about.com/od/breadr... & http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...

      I just bought Pushpesh Pant's India Cookbook, and am excited to try his recipe for naan.

    2. I don't have a good explanation for your specific problem, but I will say that I have never eaten a naan that came out of an oven that had the right taste and texture when compared to tandoor baked naan. I know that's not helpful, but I'm just being frank!

      8 Replies
      1. re: Muchlove

        I think Muchlove has the answer without knowing it. It's the temperature. I've tried really hard to make naan in the kitchen, and I'm convinced it can't be done without a tandoor. The closest I came was when I put refractory bricks (splits, which are 4x8x2 inches) next to, and on a rack above a baking stone, trying to mimic a brick lined oven. I heated the oven to the max temperature of 500F, measured with an infrared thermometer. I tried several recipes and the results were good, but not good enough, especially considering it takes 60-90 minutes to get the oven and all those bricks up to temperature. You probably could make naan in a brick or clay pizza oven, but in a regular oven, forget it. I don't know how hot tandoors get, but if you've ever watched them bake naan in an Indian joint, it takes maybe two minutes.

        On the up side, those extra bricks really improved the quality of my pizza crusts.

        1. re: Zeldog

          Thing is though, I don;'t think lack of tandoor entirely explains the particular problem here. You see, I have made naan in my home and I don't have a tandoor so it wasn't spot on but it still looked more naan like than the photos kathrung has posted.

          1. re: Muchlove

            I think you're all right that temperature is important. Have any of you ever tried grilling naan? Does that work any better than broiling or baking? And muchlove, I think you're right that it might be something else in addition to the temperature, because I've seen photos people have posted online of homemade naan and it definitely looks more naan-like than mine.

            1. re: kathryng

              I've had pretty good success with making naan on a griddle - not quite the same as restaurant breads done in a traditional tandoor oven, but much better than anything I can buy or the oven-baked kind.

              1. re: Nana5

                That's a really interesting idea. Do you use a cast iron griddle on the stove top? Over high heat? I might try that.

                1. re: kathryng

                  I think others have answered your question - I have a square coated cast-iron griddle that I use over a gas flame as high as I can get it - brush the naan with melted butter or oil (or a mixture) and grill for maybe 30 seconds per side. Finishing over an open flame sounds great, I'm just too lazy to do that as they're already pretty good.

              2. re: kathryng

                For what its worth,I grill naanbread or griddle like chaputi
                Pita I bake

                1. re: malabargold

                  Start at medium high, adjust as you go

        2. Thanks for all the responses--I looked into making naan with a griddle on the stovetop and found some great results. For anyone interested, here is a video of someone making naan this way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffuKRw.... It seems like it works really well and I'm definitely going to try it next time.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kathryng

            Looks interesting--I'll give that a try. I make mine in the oven, but have never had them make a pita-like pocket. Thanks for posting that youtube.

          2. Don't do them in the oven -- do them on the grill. The grill will give you that smoky, flame kissed flavor and color that's integral to naan. I make naan from time to time and always do it on the grill. We have a tandoor as well, but it's a PITA to fire it up just for a few pices of tandoori chicken and naan so we grill everything instead. Comes out great. Also make sure you are letting the naan dough rest before stretching it. I've never ever seen naan make pockets before, so I would look into a different recipe.

            2 Replies
            1. re: boogiebaby

              I like that idea--I've never tried doing them on the grill, but it seems like a good alternative to a tandoor. I can't figure out why my naan sometimes develops a pocket. They puff up really big when they're cooking, which I think is how the pocket forms. I will keep trying new recipes. I just bought a really excellent book on Indian cuisine, so hopefully that recipe will be solid.

              Folks on this thread have mentioned using a skillet over the stove, which seems like another good idea. I think I'm going to try that as well. Just thought I'd mention it in case you're interested in experimenting with another cooking method.

              1. re: kathryng

                the pocket is probably forming due to the trapped heat/steam in an oven environment. A tandoor has no lid, so you get tons of heat, but no steam. Same with the grilling method -- you grill on high, with the lid open. No steam buildup. It only takes 3 minutes or so per side. A skillet isn't going to get you that same high heat on the surface of the naan. You can reheat them on a tava (cast iron griddle) with decent results.

                One thing I would suggest is that if you are going to do them on a skillet, do the cooking on the skillet, then just place the naan for a second or two on the open range flame. This is something done with roti as well (wheat flatbread) but it adds those small charred areas that are part of the roti/naan flavor.

            2. As some others have said...I use a grill and I typically close the lid and flip the bread before it burns too much. My grill has castiron porcelain grills so it get's pretty hot. Rather than lidding it, just use a foil tray bigger than your breads, less air above the bread means faster heating the air.

              My dough is also pretty wet. Those recipes are a lower on hydration (at least looking at it). Interesting that the Allrecipes doesn't use yogurt.

              I've never gotten a pocket doing it on a grill....very flatbread like is how it turns out.