Does Naan Bread Have Yeast (+ recipe for naan bread)

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “does naan bread have yeast?”, and will also tell you how to make delicious naan bread.

Does Naan Bread Have Yeast?

Yes; traditionally, naan or naan bread does have yeast in it. After preparing the dough, the production process of flat bread can include a leavening phase or not. Without leavening, bread is easier to chew if the dough is spread to a very thin layer (1).

The ingredients to make naan bread are all-purpose flour and yeast for leavening the dough. Both dry active yeast and instant yeast can be used. 

However, there are certain variations in recipes where naan bread is also made without using yeast. These recipes feature whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour and a mixture of curd and baking powder as leavening agents. 

What is Naan Bread?

Naan bread is a leavened flatbread that originated from Iran. Different countries have their version of naan, including most middle eastern countries, and countries of the Indian subcontinent such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.

Naan bread is baked in a tandoor (a deep cylindrical oven made from clay) and is preferably eaten hot to experience the best taste and texture. Once it cools, it becomes hard and loses its taste. The “flat” breads include a multitude of bread types, ranging from a few millimeters to a few centimeters in thickness. These breads have an ancient origin and became popular very fast, because it fit well into the context of a subsistence economy: i) they can be obtained from cereals other than wheat, such as pseudocereals or legumes, allowing the use of sustainable local productions from marginal lands; ii) they do not necessarily require an oven to be baked; iii) they can serve as a dish and as a spoon/fork; iv) they can be dehydrated by a second baking process, preventing the growth of molds and extending the shelf life; v) they are transported with little encumbrance (1).

Is Naan Bread Healthy?

Naan bread made using all-purpose flour is not considered to be quite healthy, since it is made from refined flour and is usually super dense. It is classified as having a high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index produce a higher peak in postprandial blood glucose and a greater overall blood glucose response during the first 2 h after consumption and are related to higher risks of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (2).

However, naan bread made from whole-wheat flour is a healthier version.  

What is The Difference between Naan And Roti?

Naan and roti are both flatbreads commonly used in Asian cuisine; however, they are different because of their ingredients.

Roti, known traditionally as chapati, is made using whole- wheat flour and requires no leavening agent like yeast. It is the Indian and Pakistani unleavened flat bread. This bread is so thin that it can be folded like a handkerchief and roti means “handkerchief” in many north Indian languages (1).

On the other hand, naan bread is traditionally made using all-purpose flour and requires a leavening agent such as yeast or baking powder for making the dough. It is the Indian and Pakistani leavened and relatively thick flat bread (1).

 

How Do You Make Naan Bread?

Here’s a simple recipe for making naan bread.

Making The Dough

  1. Take a ¼th cup of fresh yogurt in a bowl. For making a vegan naan, you can use cashew or almond yogurt. If you’re using curd, make sure it is not overly sour. 
  2. Add one teaspoon of sugar, one teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of baking soda (optional). If you’re using active dry yeast, add two 1/4th teaspoons. Mix all the ingredients well till the sugar dissolves
  3. Add two cups of all-purpose flour and one teaspoon of salt. For a healthier version, you can use a combination of all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour. Mix well.
  4. Make a well in the center of the mixture with your finger, and add two tablespoons of neutral-flavored oil or melted butter in the middle. 
  5. Add 1/4th to 1/3rd cup of water, mix well, and then knead the dough till a soft and smooth ball is obtained. If the dough looks dry, add some more water, but be careful not to make it too runny. The result should be a stretchy and soft dough.
  6. Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and cover it with a moist napkin or kitchen towel. Let it rest for about two hours to allow the leavening agents to do their job.

Preparing The Dough

  1. Divide the dough into medium-sized balls. Flatten them slightly, rub with flour, and sprinkle flour on the rolling board as well.
  2. Roll the balls into elongated tear-shaped ovals measuring six to seven inches using a rolling pin. You can also sprinkle some nigella seeds, sesame seeds, or melon seeds on the rolled dough. This is simply a taste preference and not obligatory.

Cooking The Naan Bread

  1. Heat a Tawa (can also use a heavy griddle or skillet) and keep it on medium heat. 
  2. Place the naan bread on the hot Tawa. Allow one side to become partly cooked. 
  3. Once you begin to see air-pockets forming, flip the half-cooked side to cook the raw side using a spatula or a pair of tongs. Cook this side on medium-high heat as well.
  4. As before, you will see air-pockets starting to form. Flip the naan over again when you see many air-pockets; the second side needs to be cooked more than the first side. 
  5. Now, using tongs or the Tawa’s handle, slide it away to reveal the flame, and place the naan directly on the flame. Grill the naan till it begins to develop charred spots/blisters. Grill the edges and the center carefully. Grill both sides.

**Avoid excessive grilling to prevent burning the naan and making it too crispy.

  1. Transfer the cooked naan onto a plate or tray and brush with softened or melted butter. You can also use ghee (clarified butter). For the vegan version, you can use neutral-flavored oil. 
  2. Either serve the naan hot or warm, or prepare a batch and store them in a roti basket for later. Some dishes that go great with naan bread include curries, lentils, and vegetable gravies. 

Can You Freeze Naan Bread?

Naan dough can be placed in an airtight container and frozen for as long as four to five weeks, but this depends on the temperature and humidity. 

Since the dough contains curd/yogurt, it is recommended that you do not store it for too long and use it within a week or so. 

Before making naan bread, thaw the dough at room temperature, then start the rolling process. 

Conclusion

In this brief article, we answered the question, “does naan bread have yeast?” and also told you how to make delicious naan bread.

If you have any more questions or comments please let us know.

References

  1. Smith, James P., et al. Shelf life and safety concerns of bakery products—a review. Crit rev food sci nutr, 2004, 44, 19-55.
  2. Kaye Foster-Powell, Susanna HA Holt, Janette C Brand-Miller, International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr, 2002, 76, 5–56 

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.