Naan is the Farsi word for bread. Centuries of Persian control of Central Asia and India left its imprint on the cuisine of those areas and most have variations of Persian breads. This thin, crispy loaf is a popular Sabbath and holiday bread in Iranian households. Until recently, they baked simple breads on a flat clay pan over an open fire or on the sides of a round clay oven called a tanor, a major advancement from the fireplace. The oven, located outside of the house, was also the place to leave the various Sabbath dishes overnight to serve warm after synagogue.
Naan (Persian Whole-Wheat Bread)
- Cooking and Prep: 3 h 50 m
- Serves: 6
Prepare the Dough
Dissolve the yeast in a quarter cup water. Stir in one teaspoon sugar and let stand until foamy, five to 10 minutes.
Add the remaining water, remaining sugar, oil, salt, and whole-wheat flour. Gradually add enough of the white flour until the mixture just holds together.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place on a flat surface, cover with a large bowl, and let rise until nearly double in bulk, about two hours.
Whole wheat, ground from whole milled wheat kernels, has an earthy flavor and a heavier texture than white flour. Do not use whole-wheat flour that is brominated, a process that destroys the germ.
Stone-ground whole wheat tastes better than most commercial machine-ground products, since the mechanical process can impart an “off” taste due to its use of heat and the uneven distribution of the wheat germ oil in the flour. The germ in whole-wheat flour can become rancid after only a few months, so store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Use water that is 105–115 degrees Fahrenheit for dry yeast; 80–85 degrees Fahrenheit for fresh yeast.
Shape and Bake
Line two 15- and- 1/2- x 10- and- 1/2-inch baking sheets with Gefen Easy Baking Parchment Paper, or grease the sheets.
Punch down the dough, knead briefly, cover, and let rest for about 15 minutes.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half to fit the baking sheets and transfer to the sheets. Cover and let stand until puffy, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush the breads with the oil and sprinkle lightly with the sesame seeds. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.