Gluten-Free Naan

Posted by Aarti on March 17th, 2011 . Filed under: Uncategorized .

I had so much fun yesterday.

Why?

Because I spent a few hours, in my new clogs (love them! No back pain despite standing for 8 hours!), covered in flour, listening to the new Lykke Li, and making… NAAN!

This is something of a miracle. Why? Well, see, um, I didn’t grow up eating naan. That’s a NORTHERN thing. And I’m a proud SOUTHERNER. We ate rice. In fact, we had very little wheat growing up.

Speaking of which, one of you posted an interesting link to an article in The Times of India about how celiac and wheat allergies are being seen as impending epidemic in India. The apparent cause? Farmers growing a variety of wheat that our bodies can’t break down! I mean seriously. What good is it growing a form of wheat that more and more of us can’t eat?

Don’t get me started.

Where was I? Oh yeah. No naan growing up. As I was saying, it’s a bit of regional thing. People think of India as one homogeneous country, but don’t forget that (a) before England colonised India, it was a series of states, each with its own rulers (rajas) and traditions… and (b) India is a massive country. Think of the differences in food eaten in say, Louisiana as compared to Wisconsin. Pretty different right? Same thing in India.

All of this to say… I don’t have a family naan recipe. Which is pretty tragic because I truly love naan. Eating naan makes me proud to be Indian, as if I can lay claim to inventing the darned thing myself.

So, I tried every single danged recipe I could find, including the one furnished by my new “aunty” at The Samosa House. And I still couldn’t nail it. Until yesterday. Hallelujah people. Momma made herself some good naan!

Ah but then… but then… there was the gluten-free version. See, every time you guys asked for a gluten-free naan recipe, I winced a little.

Why?

Because how can you possibly recreate something as elastic and pillow-y as naan… when the very thing that makes it elastic is the thing that you’re allergic to?!

Now, I’m guessing that Shauna over at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef could probably figure out some alchemy that would come close, using an assortment of flours and seeds. And it would probably be better than this recipe. That’s because she’s a gluten-free genius, and one of the sweetest people I’ve “met” on these here intertubes. She and her husband are brilliant at recreating those bready delights we all miss. I’m often quite amazed at their tenacity and plain ol’ cooking smarts.

But here’s the thing: I’m lazy. I don’t have the time or the space for all those flours, and heck, until a few months ago, I wouldn’t have had the money for them either!

So here’s a simple recipe, that depends largely on cooking technique rather than ingredients to achieve a pretty tasty piece of naan.


For those of you who don’t know what naan is, it’s a little slice of South Asian heaven! You can find it in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it’s often used to sop up all that curry that your fingers can’t scoop up. Naan is a pillowed flatbread, usually (but not always) made with yeast, that is cooked in a tandoor, a clay oven that achieves temperatures of 900 degrees Fahrenheit.

In fact, it’s those surface-of-the-sun types of temperatures that make recreating naan in our piddly little ovens so difficult. The dough doesn’t bubble in the same way, doesn’t char just so, doesn’t stay moist. Some recipes suggest cooking the dough in your oven (as hot as it can get) on a pizza stone. I’ve tried that method over and over again, and I end up with a dry, brittle and slightly undercooked bread. No good.

So here’s this method, which I consider even better because it requires nothing more than a rolling pin and your trusty cast iron skillet.

I hope you like it. It’s not the same as the gluten’d, tandoor’d version… but it’s still good eatin’. Enjoy! Oh, and if you’re looking for my regular naan recipe… it’ll be on Season 3 of Aarti Party!

39 Responses to Gluten-Free Naan

  1. Patty Knox

    Oh, bless you, Aarti! Now I can have some virtuous bread without feeling like I’m poisoning myself. Been praying you’d have a naan breakthrough. And thank You, Lord, too!

  2. Monique Robinson

    Thank you! My son can not have gluten (severe allergies) so this is a blessing for us. God bless you for sharing this. You’ve made a young man happy.

  3. Glutenista

    So fabulous, thank you! We are making this today & hope we get to cross another thing off our gluten-free “wish list”!

  4. Tracy

    As good as the naan looks, I’m more intrigued by those clogs. They are gorgeous and would love something that doesn’t have my back killing after working on my feet all day.

  5. The Weight Watcher

    Ah! THankyou SO much! I’ve tried every possible recipe online (incuding the crazy one in which you upturn a pressure cooker on top of a stove and use it as a makeshift kiln- still scrubbing the burn stains off my pressure cooker!) but this one looks really do-able!

    Trying it out rightaway! :)

  6. Erin Swing

    Aarti – I’m so glad you read that article. Crazy stuff. Same day WSJ posted another great article (w/ video) if you haven’t seen yet: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704893604576200393522456636.html Another must read!

    The naan looks great! I am even lazier & used Chebe packets. Just 1 packet + oil + 2 eggs + liquid + any herbs/spices. The leavener is already in there. Check out my blog post w/ importance of order of addition w/ Chebe: http://thesensitiveepicure.blogspot.com/2010/09/its-all-about-how-you-make-it-chebe.html

    xoxo, Erin

  7. Erin Swing

    And you’re a girl after my own heart. ;) I just love Lykke Li. I’m can’t wait for the new Peter, Bjorn, & John: Gimme Some to come out (March 29th).
    I cannot work in the kitchen or lab w/o my Sanita clogs! Love them. On that note, I leave w/ a preview of PB&J’s new album “Breaker, breaker” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG5nEcnDU38

  8. cora

    OMG!!! Thank you so much for this. Since going GF we have missed naan so much. I can’t wait to try this out.

  9. Airi

    It must suck to have food allergies for something like gluten or lactose which is practically found everywhere in grocery stores :( I have a thing for peanut butter, but everytime I have any serving of peanuts or almonds, my face breaks out into a crazed frenzy of pimples. Weird right?? Oh, the consequences we undergo for food. Hope you have a lovely day, Aarti!

  10. Allison

    This sounds very interesting!

    Thought naan isn’t Southern, I will be travelling to Bangalore in May and would be very interested to know if you have any recommendations of restaurants or foods specific to the region that we should not miss!

  11. Marisol

    Hi Aarti!
    I am so happy that you are blogging and adding some recipes but I miss you on your show. When is the new season starting?
    I made your beef vidaloo and chicken tikka masala and my husband and I LOVED them both. Please come back soon!!!

  12. Angie Halten

    I have to say I have avoided Naan bread for a long time now. But thanks to you not anymore. I shall be cranking un my oven shortly! Thanks!

    Angie :)

  13. S McQ

    very interesting! especially that all over the world there’s such a difference in food North to South, as in the States. ferinstance… when i made ‘cornbread’ for my southern friends with one fellow Yankie at the table, i was put down for making it sweet. (in the North we add sweet creamed corn to our cornbread. a sin in the South, apparently.) i always just attributed the geological palate here to the age old battle between the Yanks and the Confederates from the Civil War (living between Ohio and Nashville, TN, trust me i had to prove myself for years down South to be ‘part of the group’.) But your post here plus my recent tour thru Northern and Southern Italy that proved much the same differences North to South… all vying their’s the ‘perfect’ way makes me very curious why these battles? hmmmm….. going to contemplate. it’s all about fiercely protecting emotional memory from childhood is what i’m thinking……

  14. S McQ

    oh, and P.S. forgot to conclude on above post that the one yank at the table defended me. said that cornbread exactly how his mama made it in New Jersey! too funny.

  15. Dulany Lingo

    Hi Aarti,
    I’m so glad you are back to blogging. To me that means you are finding moments out of the kitchen. I want to try the NAAN, but I can take gluten. Did you do a regular wheat recipe as well????
    I’m still so hung up on the ‘massaged Kale salad’ it has almost become a staple, and everyone that walks in the house has to try it. All have wanted the ‘how to’.

    Sunday mornings aren’t much fun since your season ended. Can’t wait for the next one. Maybe I will see my cups and spoons. (ha-ha)

  16. Linda

    Wow–Thanks Aarti-you are just the best–thanks for giving us this recipe—

  17. Katie

    Hi Aarti! speaking of Gluten free flour, I always wanted to try out Pamela brand, check it out…. I saw great rating on amazon and i have seen these at sprouts. one bag of AP flour last me half year, haven’t get a chance to try gluten free version..

  18. Kartik @ Bakeology 101

    Hey Aarti,
    First off congratulations on being on Food Network! I’m glad that there is someone who can showcase Indian food to the rest of the community and showing people that it’s really not that hard.

    Well, I at least I’m scared of making naan, but why use the xanthum gum? Is that the gluten-free aspect?

    Thanks and keep up the great work!
    Kartik

  19. Tami

    Looks good! Though I don’t have problems with gluten (as far as I know), I know a few people that do.

    I am also curious about the xantham gum. What does it do for the recipe, and where do you find it?

  20. Dulany Lingo

    To Kartik and Tami:

    Go to http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-xanthan-gum.htm. Very intense explanation and funny too. Now I can make a regular recipe and not worry about this thing I can’t pronounce (or find locally).
    Good Luck,
    Dulany

  21. Patty Knox

    Xanthan gum can usually be found at health food stores, along with some of the unusual herbs & spices not found in grocery stores. An Amish bulk goods store called the Food Barrel in Ashland, Ohio also carries xanthan gum & a huge gluten-free baking ingredients section. Basically, xanthan gum keeps your baked goods from crumbling into little bits, similar as gluten. Happy naan making!

  22. Heather

    You got a 3rd season! YAY!

  23. KCatGU

    HECK YEAH for 3rd Season.

    Aren’t Shauna and Danny such wizards in the kitchen.

    Arti you are just plain awesome!

  24. Middle Eastern Chickpea Soup

    [...] RELEASED..  www.aartipaarti.com/2011/03/17/gluten-free-naan GLUTEN FREE NAAN Posted in Soup of the [...]

  25. noosh.

    aarti- congrats on all you do! i love your recipes… if you’re still looking, this is the most amazing naan i’ve ever had and it’s gluten free! the recipe is gluten and dairy free and quite simple to make (shauna actually collaborated on the recipe). hope you try it out!

  26. Debbie Barnett

    My friend Miranda just started a GF site and she’s come up with a ton of yummy recipes. She’s obsessed with Asian food so she’s got some fun dishes on there! She came up with a cilantro roti that is delish! Check it out: http://untamedkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/02/tikka-masala-with-bajra-flatbread.html

  27. noosh.

    sorry- the link didn’t seem to show up! http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=1440

  28. T.R. Crumbley

    Yay, congrats on season 3!

    Also, I’m so glad to see a gluten free naan recipe, I’ll have to try this!

  29. Vini

    Hi Aarti!!!

    I watched you win Food Network Star last year and I was so so proud, not to mention so incredibly that the most wonderful person won!!! The warmth you radiate makes me so happy!!

    A few years ago, I found out I had Celiac disease and I hate to admit it but I was in denial for a long time. Why? Because there was no way I was going to give up pani puris, chapattis, hot dog buns, cakes, etc.! It eventually caught up with me and I had to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet to stay healthy. Now I’m in medical school and honestly, it’s been so hard to find time to make gluten-free food. Even though we both come from an culinary tradition that has many naturally gluten free foods, it’s been difficult to fit Indian cooking it into my schedule. Hope you plan to show quick and easy recipes without wheat! =)

    You are so freaking awesome!!! I love you Aarti!!

    Vini

  30. shauna

    HOW did I miss this before now? Oh my goodness, this looks fantastic. Thank you for your kind words, but my dear, you have some culinary genius going on here. (You’re right. I’ll fiddle with it. I can’t help but fiddle.)

    I love that you’re doing this work. Thank you, Aarti!

  31. Liz Delia

    I am sure your GF version is amazing! And with the simple ingredient list it looks like I have everything to make it!

  32. Jen

    I am so excited that you will be cooking gluten free more often!! I saw the news on Shauna’s blog. Sorry to hear that you were having an issue that made you go gluten free but I’m happy that I will be able to make more of your foods. My daughter and I have Food Network on ALL the time. It’s the backround noise of our home. We can do impersonations of everyone : )

  33. Brent Spore

    HOLY YES!!! We’re so making this RIGHT NOW!! Never had Naan cuz of the death juice in my guts (a.k.a allergies). Every time we go to an Indian restaurant, everyone eats naan in my face and it smells sooooo good. Heck, the people that own the restaurants nearly taunt me with it (see this pic) lol!

    Thank you Aarti! This rocks! Can’t wait to try it and report back.

  34. November meal plan | Making A Home And Family

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  35. Nipun

    Greetings of the day !
    I am looking for Gluten free Ready made Indian Breads ( Naan Bread, Missi Roti , Stuffed (Potato , Cottage cheeze, spinatch ) Indian Flat bread . Are these available ? if not can they be ordered specially. if so ,what would be the life of these products ? (frozen and not frozen ). and where can i purchase them ( i am happy to pay for shipping ). India

    Eagerly awaiting Your reply
    Nipun Jain

  36. Shine

    Two things:
    1. Domata has a fantastic gluten-free “living” all-purpose blend.
    2 This recipe does not have enough moisture. Do you have errata?

  37. cheap celine

    I found out I had Celiac disease and I hate to admit it but I was in denial for a long time. Why? Because there was no way I was going to give up pani puris, chapattis, hot dog buns, cakes, etc.! It eventually caught up with me and I had to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet to stay healthy. Now I’m in medical school and honestly,

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  39. Lucero De La Tierra

    Aarti, thank you so much for posting this recipe. We were at our favorite Indian restaurant last night and it pained me to see my little DD1 yearn for the panner kulcha we had in front of us. She is such a trooper though, she simply had an extra serving of the rice she loves so much and dealt with it. Now with this recipe I’m going to give gluten free naan a try and hope that she enjoys it as much as she used to enjoy the fluffy wheat laden version.

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