Out of yoghurt? Or just avoiding dairy? Whatever the reason you are going to need to know how to make naan bread without yoghurt. The good news is that the answer is right here. Today I am going to show you how to make yoghurt free naan, that is just as fluffy and tasty as the authentic Indian recipe. It isn’t quick, but to make an authentic naan bread, you have to do it just like the Indian restaurants do! Read on to find out more…
Naan Bread Recipe | No Yogurt
Look, I get it… Sick of scrolling through reams of information to get a simple naan bread recipe.
Don’t worry, without further ado here is how to make naan bread without yoghurt.
The best bit? There’s a few. This recipe: -
- Is no knead
- Needs only 5 ingredients
- Is how they make it in Indian Restaurants
Naan Bread Tips and Tricks
- Be sure to let your flour and water rest for at least 15 minutes. In bakers terms this is called an autolyse… It allows the gluten to develop and become all stretchy. Perfect for fluffy naan!
- Don’t mix your salt and yeast. Salt will actually kill the yeast, which stops your naan from rising!
- It is vital that you do at least three stretch and folds. This intertwines the gluten, making the dough more robust. see the end of this section for a quick video on how to do stretch and folds...
- DO NOT knead your dough. Nor should you ever use a rolling pin. Both will squeeze all of the air out of the dough.
- Make sure your water is warm. This will cause your dough to be a higher temperature, which helps the yeast get going quicker.
- As an optional extra, feel free to add a pinch of cumin seeds to your flour and water mix.
- If you want garlic naan, add a crushed clove of garlic to some ghee and brush it before baking.
- If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use on oven tray instead. Just be sure to leave it in the oven to heat up.
- Here’s a pro tip. Cut a square of baking parchment and when you’ve formed your naan, place it on the parchment before putting it in the oven. It stops it sticking (both to your worktop and your oven)
- I find it easiest to use a pizza peel to get the dough in and out of the oven.
- You’ll find this dough a little more ‘soft’ than most recipes out there. That’s intentional. If you ever watch authentic Indian chefs making naan, it is practically a liquid!
- If you want to make this recipe really quick you can use a large frying pan to cook your naan. Just get it smoking hot and drop the formed dough into a dry pan. You might need to make your naan a little smaller to fit however.
How to Stretch and Fold Naan Dough
Ok this video isn't specifically for naan, but it shows you the exact technique authentic indian chefs use.
What is Naan Bread?
Naan is a traditional flatbread served all over the asian subcontinent in one form or another. While it is flat, it is in fact a leavened bread. It is lighter, bigger and fluffier than other Indian breads such as chapati and roti.
Naan bread is traditionally served as a side dish with Indian food, Because it is so fluffy, it is great for mopping up curry sauce. Because of its substantial size it also makes a great wrap for meats such as chicken tikka.
Naan bread is traditionally cooked on the walls of a tandoor oven or in a tawa. The good news is that you can create a similar effect at home without a tandoor oven using a number of techniques.
How do you Shape Naan?
It's pretty easy actually. I've described the technique above. However if you feel you need to see it firsthand, here's a really quick video demonstrating the general concept
Does Naan Need Yogurt?
No it does not! You’ll see loads of recipes out there that include yogurt as one of the ingredients.
But trust me.
Having seen them made first hand, authentic Indian chefs don’t ever include yoghurt, or lemon juice as part of the recipe. Any recipe with this as an ingredient isn’t authentic.
Why do some people include yoghurt in a naan bread recipe?
Well, remember how we said that naan bread is leavened? This essentially means ‘risen using carbon dioxide’. We can achieve this in a number of ways. Most naan recipes that include yoghurt will also include baking powder. Baking powder ‘fizzes’ when combined with an acid, creating little bubbles of carbon dioxide.
Yoghurt is a mild acid, and this is why it is needed in certain naan bread recipes.
In our naan bread, without yoghurt, we need another way to get those bubbles. Our answer is yeast.
Yeast is actually millions of tiny microbes that eat naturally occurring sugars (found in flour) and they expel carbon dioxide.
A nicely risen naan bread, without yoghurt!
Why Make Naan Bread without Yoghurt?
There are loads of reasons to make naan bread without yoghurt.
Such as: -
- It isn’t authentic! While you can make naan bread with yoghurt, this isn’t how Indian chefs do it. Using yoghurt is a bit of a ‘cheap cooks trick’ Baking soda mixed with yoghurt does work much quicker than yeast to rise bread. But you’ll lose a lot of taste. Want more proof? Find me another flatbread recipe without yoghurt! Pizzas don’t use it, pitta, roti and Turkish pide, don’t either!
- You simply don’t have it! If it isn’t in the fridge, you can’t use it. Yoghurt has to be used pretty soon after buying it. Dried yeast keeps for ages.
- Lactose intolerance. Some people simply can’t eat dairy. Not unless they want unpleasant consequences. Curry makes you gassy at the best of times, without added problems.
The good news?
My naan bread without yoghurt recipe above is entirely dairy free. (As long as you skip the brushing with ghee part!)
What Can I Substitute for Yoghurt in Naan | 6 Suggestions
Ok there are lots of ways you can get a good rise on your naan bread without the use of yoghurt. If you have found a recipe that you like that calls for yoghurt, but you don’t have any then here are some great alternatives: -
Buttermilk, like yoghurt is acidic. This means that it will work well to create that fizz if you are using baking powder.
Don’t have buttermilk? If you’ve got a pot of double cream then you actually do!
Throw the cream into a stand mixer, and keep beating on high. Eventually you’ll find that it will thicken, and then separate into solids, the liquid left over is buttermilk! The best bit is if you keep the solids, you’ve just made fresh butter!
Creme fraiche is very similar in taste and texture to yoghurt. It is also sour and acidic, so will give you a similar flavour and rise in your naan.
Sour cream contains all of the elements needed to make a naan bread without yoghurt. It is a little tangy in taste and is about the same consistency. Use the same quantity as the recipe calls for in yoghurt.
Lemon Juice and Milk
Here’s a little cheat for you to try. If you haven’t got any yoghurt then this is a good alternative. Mix a tablespoon of lemon juice with a cup of milk and let it rest for 15 minutes. You’ll find that it begins to separate into curds. These curds can be spooned out init your dough mixture.
Lactose Free Yoghurt
If you are avoiding yogurt, it might be because you are lactose intolerant. You’ll be pleased to learn that lactose free yogurt works perfectly in most naan bread recipes.
If you are into baking you might just have a sourdough starter. This is where you create natural yeast by fermenting a mixture of flour and water. It tastes pretty tangy and is a good option to get some rise if you have it. The bad news? It takes around a week to make a sourdough starter.
Why Does My Naan Bread Not Rise?
Ok so you’ve run into trouble and you’ve got a dull, dense and lifeless naan bread?
Fear not my curry cooking friends! Here’s a list of reasons why it might have happened and what you can do about it!
Overworking your Dough
Look, I used to try ‘other’ inferior recipes myself. You know the ones. "Work the dough for 10 minutes until smooth”… “Let it rise then knead it again”.
All sounds familiar?
When you work dough too much you break down the gluten. Imagine stretching a rubber band over and over. At some point, it’s gonna break, right? The same thing happens if you overwork dough.
Also by kneading your dough, especially after adding yeast, you actually work out all of those little carbon dioxide bubbles that help your dough to rise.
Use a no knead recipe (like mine above 🙂
You Used a Rolling Pin
By using a rolling pin you are guaranteed to squeeze all of that lovely gas out of your dough. As a result it can’t expand when it is baked in the oven.
Here’s the solution…
Shape your naan by hand using the technique I described above.
Your Yeast has ‘Died’
Poor yeast! There’s a few reasons why it isn’t potent.
Here’s the thing.
Yeast is a living organism. Don’t treat it right and it keels over and doesn’t work. Here’s the most common things people do that kills yeast: -
- Old yeast. While it keeps a while, yeast, like all living things does have a shelf life.
- Contact with salt. It is important to keep yeast and salt separate. Raw salt is like kryptonite to those little microbes.
- You used hot water. How could you? Poor yeast! If you use water that is too hot in your dough it will destroy the yeast. Tepid water is perfect.
Not Enough Rest
Whether you used yeast as a yoghurt alternative, or not. You’ve got to allow time for those little bubbles of air to develop. If you’ve rushed it then there is a good chance that this is the reason why you’ve ended up with a flat naan.
A good indicator is to look for a dough that has roughly doubled in size.
Too Low Temperature
High temperature is one thing that increases chemical reactions. This includes getting yeast going or making baking powder fizz.
If your oven (or pan) is too cold then this means your dough won’t rise. If you’ve opened your oven to check your naan this could be another reason, as it drastically lowers your oven temperature.
Not Enough Leavening
Did you follow the recipe or just guess? Get the quantity of rising agent wrong and you’ll find that you won’t get a consistent result!
Making Naan without Yoghurt | Final Thoughts
Personally I’m always a fan of cooking naan without yoghurt. It is the most authentic method, and tastes so much better. Above I’ve given you plenty of ideas and alternatives along with my own Indian takeaway naan recipe. How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below.