Here’s an easy, homemade recipe of an iconic flatbread of India, the naan. This is a Butter Naan which does not require a tandoor (a clay oven) to cook it. It is also a simpler and healthier version of the traditional recipe that is made with all-purpose flour. Here, on this post, my recipe uses whole wheat flour or atta to make soft naans that are brushed with Butter before serving. With just a few more ingredients added, these can be easily made on a stovetop using a tawa or flat skillet.
About Butter Naan
One of the popular flat breads of Asian origin, is the Naan that is made with a leavened dough. In India, the Butter Naan is another quintessential variant of this particular flatbread, which is primarily cooked in a tandoor.
But Naan can also be roasted on a skillet or baked in an oven. Just like this Butter Naan, which gets done on a tawa or skillet in your home kitchen.
This Butter Naan, or for that matter any other naan and rich North Indian gravies always make a great pair. So, on days when I don’t make the usual chapati or roti at home, I end up making naans. These are easy to make, light and soft Indian flatbreads.
These flatbreads are always made with all-purpose flour. But the same soft texture can be achieved with whole wheat flour (atta) too.
I have used the regular chapati atta for making this recipe, but you can opt to make them with only all-purpose flour. Other ingredients that go in this recipe are sugar, instant yeast and curd (yogurt).
Generally, Butter Naan that is served in restaurants is only slathered with butter after it gets cooked. However, I always add some butter in the dough and then spread some butter on the top as well, while serving.
As I mentioned earlier, this Butter Naan is essentially cooked in a tandoor or clay oven in restaurants. But at home, you can cook them in an oven or on a tawa or skillet.
Since we prefer some charred spots on the naans, I always cook the flatbreads partly on direct stovetop flame. This is optional and you can cook the naans completely on the skillet, like chapati or roti.
You can enjoy this soft, homemade Butter Naan with any dal or vegetable, or paneer curry of your choice.
How to make Butter Naan
Leaven Flour Mixture
1. Take ½ teaspoon instant yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in a bowl.
Swap instant yeast with ¾ teaspoon of dry active yeast or 1.5 teaspoons of fresh yeast.
Remember that if you use dry active yeast or fresh yeast, you will have to use lukewarm water to activate them.
2. Add 1 cup water or as required.
3. Add 1 cup whole wheat flour (atta).
4. Begin to whisk the mixture.
5. Whisk the entire mixture till smooth and without lumps.
6. Cover and allow the mixture to sit for 30 to 45 minutes. During this time the mixture will leaven and you will see many air-pockets in it.
Make Butter Naan Dough
7. Later add the remaining 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 3 to 4 tablespoons curd (yogurt) and ¾ teaspoon salt or as required.
8. Mix everything and begin to knead to a smooth, soft dough.
9. Knead to a pliable and soft dough. Cover and allow the dough to leaven for about 25 to 30 minutes.
For dry active yeast or fresh yeast, keep dough to leaven for 1 hour or until you see some increase in the size of the dough.
10. Divide the dough in medium sized balls.
11. Cover and keep aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
For dry active yeast or fresh yeast, keep covered for 30 minutes.
Roll and Cook Butter Naan
12. Take a dough ball and lightly dust it with flour. You can also sprinkle some sesame seeds or nigella seeds on the dough ball and then roll it.
13. With a rolling pin, roll into discs with a medium thickness.
14. On a hot tawa or skillet, place the naan bread. You will see air pockets appearing. Keep the heat to medium-high to high.
15. When the base is partly cooked, turn over and let the second side get cooked.
16. When this side is half cooked, remove with the pair of tongs and place the first cooked side touching the direct flame on the stovetop.
The Butter Naan may puff up. Flip and brown the other side too.
17. Below is the picture of the flat bread sprinkled with nigella seeds, getting puffed.
18. Place them in a roti basket or casserole and spread butter on top. Prepare all Butter Naan this way. You can stack them in the roti basket, then serve immediately or later.
19. Serve soft Butter Naan with dal or curry of your choice.
- Along with nigella seeds, you can also sprinkle some sesame seeds and finely chopped coriander leaves on the dough ball and then roll it.
- You can use half-half of both whole wheat flour (atta) and all-purpose flour (maida) to make this recipe. However, it won’t be as nutritious as the one completely made with atta.
- Also, you can make the breads entirely with all-purpose flour. When kneading the dough with all-purpose flour, you will need to add less water. So begin with ¾ cup of water and add more water later, if needed.
- You can use use ¾ teaspoon of dry active yeast or 1.5 teaspoons of fresh yeast instead of instant yeast. Keep in mind that if using dry active yeast or fresh yeast, you have to use lukewarm water to activate. Also make a note that the time for the dough to leaven for first time will be for about 1 hour or more and for the second rise, the time will be 30 minutes.
- Adding the yogurt in the recipe will make the dough stretchy and pillowy. It also helps to get a soft texture in the butter naans.
- If you want to serve the naans later, then you can stack them in a roti basket or casserole, spread some butter on top and keep until ready to serve.
North Indian Food
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Making Buttery Dough
- In a bowl, take the instant yeast, sugar. Add water and stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar and yeast granules.
- Then add 1 cup whole wheat flour and stir or whisk it with the rest of the yeast mixture.
- Cover and keep aside to leaven for 40 to 45 minutes.
- Then add the remaining whole wheat flour, salt, softened butter and curd/yogurt. Knead to a soft, pliable and smooth dough.
- If the dough become sticky, add a few tablespoons of flour and knead again. If its dry, then add some more water.
- Cover the naan dough and keep aside for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into medium balls.
- Give a resting time for the dough balls for about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and keep aside.
Assembling and Rolling
- Lightly dust the dough balls with some flour.
- You can also sprinkle some sesame seeds or nigella seeds on the dough ball and then roll it.
- Roll into a small to medium sized rounds of medium thickness.
Cooking butter naan
- Place the rolled flat bread on a hot tawa or flat skillet. Keep the heat to medium-high to high.
- When the bottom is partly cooked, flip. You will see many air pockets on the naan.
- When the second side is half cooked, remove the naan with a pair of tongs and place the side which was cooked first facing the fire.
- The naan may puff up. Flip and brown the second side also. Ensure the naan is cooked well but don't over roast it.
- Place the hot naan in a roti basket or casserole. Spread some softened butter on top.
- Make all butter naans this way in batches. If not serving straight away, then stack them in the roti basket.
- Or else you can serve Butter Naan immediately.
- Make sure to knead the dough to a soft and pliable texture.
- If you do not have instant yeast, use ¾ teaspoon of dry active yeast or 1.5 teaspoons of fresh yeast. Note that if using dry active yeast or fresh yeast, you will have to use lukewarm water to activate them. The time for the dough to leaven for first time will be for about 1 hour or more and for the second rise will be 30 minutes.
- Instead of whole wheat flour, use all-purpose flour. When forming dough with all-purpose flour, you will need to add less water. So begin with ¾ cup of water and later add more if needed.
- You could sprinkle some sesame seeds, coriander leaves (cilantro) or nigella seeds while rolling the bread.
- For the butter, either use salted or unsalted butter. If using salted butter, add less amount of salt or as needed.
- Easily scale the recipe to make half a batch or increase the portions.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Butter Naan from the archives first published in November 2014 has been updated and republished on January 2023.