THE best naans are those you get in Indian restaurants. The worst naans are the long-life ones sold everywhere else sealed in sweaty plastic film.

Though a restaurant tandoor oven has a unique heat that gives the bread a light crispness, you can make pretty good ones at home using your frying pan or wok if you're not scared to take on Indian food.

I'm sure in most homes our Saturday Night treat will consist of curry served with rice and a pillowy naan to soak up that rich, spicy gravy.

The naan, a word that just means bread in its original Persian, is a flatbread native to Asia.

It's baked in a clay oven, rather than over a flame like the chapati, which gives it a crisp exterior, a fluffy core and a distinctive charred flavour.

Not being blessed with either the space or the funds for a second oven, clay or not, I'd long ago lumped naans into the oven with pizzas as things that weren't worth attempting at home.

I've since changed my mind on the margherita and naan front, particularly after a revelatory moment involving buying my wife a new frying pan, but most people will be wary of attempting a bread with no yeast and no topping to hide behind.

Well, turns out I'm wrong again. Most naan recipes will go for plain or bread flour – but do try self-raising flour as you will be surprised with the end results.

Although flatbreads like naans traditionally get their bubbly texture from yeast, over-raising agents like baking powder can be used.

There will need no proving for hours, and after a mere 20 minutes under a damp cloth they are ready to shape.

This is a decent-tasting quick fix if you need flatbreads in a hurry while cooking the curry, for it to all come together at the same time.

Flavouring: everyone will add salt and sugar for essential flavour, but more interesting are toppings.

I avoid garlic butter as I don't like garlic and also gives the bread a very unfair advantage (what doesn't taste good smothered in garlic butter?).

Having established my kitchen is a tandoor free zone, cooking is still necessary: the best way to replicate the high heat and charred flavours is with a very hot dry frying pan.

Use your oven to keep your curries warm instead.

Naan breads are definitely worth making at home with or without a tandoor oven, even if you have to buy your wife a new frying pan!

Naan bread

Yields two large naan – double the recipe for more!


120g/4 1/2oz self-raising flour

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

60g/2 1/2oz milk, lukewarm

2 teaspoons melted butter for brushing over the naan bread


1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, oil and milk, and bring the dough together roughly.

2. Knead the dough for around five minutes using a light dusting of flour until soft and springy.

3. Return the dough back to the bowl to rest for 20 minutes. At this stage you can make your curry sauces.

4. Lightly knead again and divide the dough into two round balls, rolling out to a round or naan shape.

5. Over a medium heat setting, cook each naan bread for around 30 seconds on both sides.

6. Place them onto a clean tea towel or kitchen towel and lightly brush over the melted butter.

7. If you prefer you can add garlic to the butter and sprinkle on top some fresh herbs like coriander or parsley.