With its chewy texture and nutty, lightly tangy taste, Sourdough Naan Bread is a yummy side dish and a great way to use your sourdough starter discard!
Serve homemade naan bread with dinner
I love using my slow cooker for those chilly winter days. The smell of long-simmering food fills the house with anticipation.
Indian cuisine lends itself to those fix-and-forget crock-pot dinners with its complex blend of spices and sauces. One such dish is Butter Chicken, something I had only found in Indian restaurants and the freezer section of Trader Joes. Little did I know how easy it was to make!
But you need naan bread with Indian cuisine. It’s in the rules. And I had my ever-present sourdough starter discard dilemma facing me.
Enter Sourdough Naan Bread!
What is naan bread?
Naan is another type of flatbread, like pita bread, that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Traditionally, homemade naan is cooked in a tandoor, but it can be cooked on a hot pan on the stove. Naan can be seasoned with garlic, herbs, and spices, and can be augmented with whole wheat flour.
And it’s very easy to make!
How to make Sourdough Naan Bread
Recipes for homemade naan abound, and adapting those recipes to use unfed sourdough starter is the same as with sourdough pretzels, sourdough bagels, and the like. Just replace some of the flour and liquid in a recipe with half the amount of discard you have (by weight). No big deal.
This recipe is adapted from a whole wheat naan recipe, where half the all-purpose flour is replaced with white whole wheat flour. This gives the naan a chewier, nuttier texture and flavor, but it also makes it a little more dense. You have been warned.
Make the naan bread dough
Mixing up the dough for the naan is so easy…whisk the wet ingredients together, add in the dry ingredients, and poof! You’re done. Now you just let the dough rest a while before cooking it.
This version of sourdough naan is a quick bread, meaning we’re leavening it with baking powder rather than yeast. The unfed sourdough starter also gives a little rise, but mostly it’s there for flavor. You can use fed sourdough starter like when making real sourdough bread, or just use yeast. The rising times will be longer though.
Cook the sourdough naan bread
I found the trickiest part of making naan is finding the correct temperature for the pan. It’s a “Goldilocks moment”…you have to find the right level for your stove so the pan isn’t too hot or too cool.
Be ready to adjust the heat so the dough doesn’t burn before the inside is cooked, or is slow to bubble and brown. The first naan might be like cooking a pancake (i.e. a tester).
After you get the temperature right, cooking up the pieces is a piece of…uhm…naan. It’ll go fairly quickly, so have dinner standing by.
Eating my homemade naan with my homemade Slow Cooker Butter Chicken was so satisfying! This is a meal that’s meant to be shared.
Set up your slow cooker in the morning, use your sourdough starter discard to make up some sourdough naan, and invite over your friends for dinner. It’ll warm up those chilly winter evenings with food, friends, and fun!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
When you maintain a sourdough starter, you have a dilemma. What do you do with your unfed sourdough starter discard? I've got lots of suggestions for sweet and savory ways to use your fed sourdough starter and the sourdough starter discard. Here are a few samples...
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Sourdough Naan Bread
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard, unfed
- ½ cup milk, warmed to 100 to 110°F
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt, plain, see Recipe Notes
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- In a large bowl, mix together the sourdough starter, milk and yogurt until smooth using a dough whisk.
- Add the baking powder, salt, and flours. Whisk to combine to a shaggy dough. It will be a bit sticky.
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours.
- Dump out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two, until the dough is smooth. Just add in enough extra flour so that the dough doesn't stick to your hands.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces, then shape into a disc and roll into a flat circle, about ⅛-inch thickness. Don't worry if it's not a perfect circle...naan can be irregular.
- Preheat a heavy cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Be ready to adjust the heat of your pan so the dough doesn't burn before the inside is cooked, or is too slow to brown.
- Brush one side of the naan with water; place water-side down on the skillet. Cover the skillet.
- Cook for about a minute, or until the dough starts to bubble and release from the skillet.
- Brush the other side with water before flipping over. Allow to cook another minute or so, until the dough releases from the pan.
- Remove the naan to a cooling rack, or wrap in a dish towel to keep warm. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Brush the naan with the melted butter, and serve. Enjoy!