This recipe was originally published as part of our Indian Spring dinner party.
TT Test Kitchen Tip: Nigella, sometimes called black cumin, adds an onion flavor and beautiful color contrast to the naan. Black sesame seeds are a good substitute.
Naan with Nigella Seeds and Cilantro
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 8 pieces
Cook Time: 20 minutes (plus overnight chilling and 1 hour of proofing)
½ cup warm water, divided
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
¾ cup warm milk
½ cup plain yogurt
6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for baking
2 tablespoons ghee (available in Indian markets) or unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons nigella (available in Indian and Middle Eastern markets) or black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
½ cup cold water, divided
1. In a large bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of the water, the sugar and the yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes (after 5 minutes, the mixture should look cloudy and bloomy at the surface).
2. To the yeast mixture, add the milk, yogurt and remaining ¼ cup of warm water, then stir in 2 cups of the flour until nearly incorporated. Add the salt and continue to stir until no dry spots of flour remain (the mixture will be very loose and wet and not dough-like). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
3. The next day, flour a cutting board with ¾ cup of the flour and place 3 cups in a large bowl. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, discard the plastic and turn the dough out onto the floured board. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the remaining ¼ cup of flour and gently roll and shape the dough (use a lot of flour from the board--the dough is sticky) into a 12- to 14-inch-long log. Using a knife or bench scraper, divide the dough in half, then into quarters so you have 8 pieces of dough.
4. Turn each piece of dough onto a cut side and fold the corners of each piece of dough up and onto the middle of the piece. Turn the ball over, cup your hands around the dough and push it in a circular motion to form a ball. Sprinkle with more flour from the board, then cover with a kitchen towel or damp paper towel. Set aside for 1 hour.
5. Place a pizza stone on the middle oven rack and a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest oven rack. Preheat the oven to 500°. Place a dough ball in the bowl of flour and turn to coat so it isn’t sticky. Repeat with 3 more balls.
6. Remove one piece of naan and flatten it between your palms, then open the oven and gently stretch the piece of naan so it’s slightly oblong. Place the dough on the hot stone. Repeat with 3 more pieces of dough, then brush each with ghee and sprinkle with nigella, cilantro and salt. Pour ¼ cup of the cold water onto the sheet pan on the bottom rack and quickly close the oven door.
7. Bake until the naan is puffed and just starting to become golden brown in spots, about 8 minutes. Turn the broiler to high and continue cooking the naan until it is golden all over and has a few darker brown spots, about 2 minutes (broiler intensities vary, so watch the naan closely). Use a metal spatula to transfer the naan to a kitchen-towel-lined plate, then wrap the towel over the naan to enclose it. Repeat with the remaining naan, ghee, nigella, cilantro and salt. Serve the naan warm.