What is it about homemade bread that makes it's so darn irresistible? I am willing to sacrifice all the time needed to make bread from scratch because, well, it's amazing. It really doesn't compare to store bought bread. This applies to not only white bread but also to focaccia, sourdough, pita bread, and yes, naan. If you're still not convinced maybe I can persuade you with this fusion version: szechuan style naan. Imagine soft fluffy naan brushed with homemade chili oil and fresh cilantro and that's what you have here. It's just so satisfying.
Szechuan Style Naan
- ¾ cup warm water, 100-110 degrees F (188 ml)
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (7 grams)
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (365 grams)
- ¼ cup warm milk, 100-110 degrees F
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (57 grams)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil (20 grams)
- ½ cup olive oil (125 ml)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 star anise
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- ½-inch ginger roughly sliced
- ½ cup red chili powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- Make the naan dough. Combine the warm water with 1 tsp sugar and yeast in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and the yeast is activated.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, milk, yogurt, salt, oil, and the yeast mixture. Mix until a rough dough forms and knead until smooth, about 7-8 minutes. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky. Transfer the naan to a clean bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, make the chili oil. Combine the oil with cumin, fennel, peppercorns, star anise, garlic, bay leaf, and ginger in a medium sauce pot. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees F. Lower the heat to low and continue to cook the spices until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. If the oil gets too hot, turn off the flames and let it sit.
- Put the chili powder in a large bowl and place a mesh strainer on top. Pour the hot oil through the strainer directly into the bowl with the chili powder. Add the salt and stir to combine. Let cool.
- Punch down the naan dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Lightly dust a clean work counter with flour and roll out the dough until it's ⅛-inch thick.
- Heat a skillet over high heat until it's scorching hot. Place one of the naan on the pan and cover with a lid. Cook for 1 minute or until bubbles form, flip and cook another 1-2 minutes or until browned. Remove from heat and keep warm in clean kitchen towels. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Brush the chili oil on the naan and sprinkle with chopped cilantro and sea salt. Serve warm.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Even if you never made bread from scratch before, I believe that naan is an easier dough to work with. It doesn't take as long as sourdough and there's not a bunch of rules and specifics that you need to follow. It's really just a matter of making the dough, letting it proof, and shaping it.
I like to use the stand mixer to knead the dough but you can also mix it by hand. Knead the dough until it's smooth. It should be soft and still be slightly sticky. Then, cover the dough and let it rise in a warm area until it's doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the homemade chili oil. You can also make the chili oil up to a week advance.
To make the chili oil, simply add all of the spices except for the chili powder with the oil and heat it until it heats 375 degrees F. Let it simmer until the spices become fragrant but make sure not to burn them. If the oil gets too hot, turn off the flame and let it sit.
Put the chili powder in a bowl, place a strainer over the chili and pour the oil through the strainer into the bowl with the chili powder. Let it cool.
Yes, you can technically buy chili oil but just like with bread, homemade is better.
Now let's turn our attention back to the naan. Punch down the dough and divide it into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust a work counter and roll out the dough until it's ⅛ inch thick. You can roll them into round or oblong shapes. I like to mix it up and keep it rustic with various shapes.
Unlike regular bread, we're going to cook this Szechuan style naan on the stove. Heat a pan over high heat until it's scorching hot. Then, place one of the naans on the pan, cover it with a lid, and cook it for a minute or until it starts to bubble up.
Flip the naan and cook it for another 1-2 minutes or until it's lightly charred on the bottom. That's all it takes! Repeat with the remaining dough.
Wrap the naan in a clean towel to keep it warm while you cook the remaining portions.
You can enjoy the naan just as is but we're going to take it one step further. Brush the chili oil on the naan and finish with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of sea salt.
My favorite naan was always the garlic variation but this Szechuan style naan has quickly climbed the list. It has the perfect hint of spicy and pairs perfectly with smoky babaghanoush or roasted red pepper dip. So delicious!
For more savory bread inspiration check out these bacon cheddar scallion milk buns!