Cheese naan is a popular Indian flatbread that is stuffed with cheese. It is a tasty variation of the traditional plain naan bread. The addition of gooey, melted cheese makes this naan irresistibly delicious and satisfying.
Naan is a type of leavened bread that is traditionally baked in a tandoor, which is a cylindrical clay oven. However, naan can also be easily made on a stovetop in a skillet or griddle pan. The dough for naan is typically made from all-purpose flour, yeast, yogurt, milk, and ghee or oil. It has a distinctive teardrop shape and blistered surface from being slapped against the hot walls of the tandoor oven.
Cheese naan takes the classic naan a step further by stuffing the dough with cheese before cooking. Popular cheese choices for stuffing are mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey Jack, and paneer (a type of Indian fresh cheese). The melted cheese in the cooked naan oozes out with each bite, enhancing the flavors and textures.
How to Make Cheese Naan
Making cheese naan at home is quite easy, requiring just some simple ingredients and a few extra steps than plain naan. Here is an overview of the method:
- All-purpose flour
- Oil or ghee
- Baking powder
- Grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar etc.)
- Minced garlic (optional)
- Fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley (optional)
- Make the naan dough by mixing together flour, salt, oil, yogurt and baking powder. Knead well until smooth. Add milk as required to make a soft dough.
- Let the dough rise for 60-90 minutes until puffy. Punch it down and divide into equal balls.
- Take one dough ball and roll it out into an oval shape using a rolling pin. Place grated cheese and minced garlic in the center.
- Bring the edges of the rolled dough together and pinch to seal the cheese filling inside. Flatten it slightly and roll out again into a oval shape.
- Cook the cheese stuffed naan on a hot greased skillet for 2-3 minutes per side until golden spots appear. Baste with butter or ghee.
- Serve the hot cheese naan immediately with any Indian curry or lentils dish.
Key Takeaway: The key steps are stuffing grated cheese in the rolled naan dough and then cooking it on a skillet until crisp and golden brown. Garlic, herbs and spices can be added to flavor the filling.
Why is Cheese Naan So Popular?
There are several reasons why cheese naan is such a hit appetizer at Indian restaurants as well as a favorite for home cooking enthusiasts:
1. Contrasting textures - The crisp outer layer of the naan bread combined with the gooey melted cheese filling is simply delightful to bite into. The interplay of textures enhances the overall eating experience.
2. Strong flavors - Cheese has a strong distinctive taste and aroma. When enveloped in the charred naan bread, the cheese flavors permeate through the bread beautifully. The optional garlic also enhances taste.
3. Versatility - Cheese naan can be served as an appetizer flatbread dipping into sauces and chutneys. It can also accompany rich and spicy curries and gravies as a meal. The cheese filling makes it much more filling than plain naan.
4. Eye-catching appeal - The melted cheese oozing out through slits in the golden fried naan looks extremely appetizing and appealing to diners. This visual attraction adds to the charm.
5. Easy customization - You can really take the basic cheese naan recipe and customize it by adding different herbs, spices, chili flakes or even stuffing paneer along with the cheese for variation.
Serving Ideas for Cheese Naan
Cheese naan isn't just limited to Indian meals. Here are some serving suggestions:
- Dip into salsa, guacamole
- Pair with chili, soups or stews
- Use as sandwich bread
- Top with eggs for breakfast
- Bake mini pizzas on naan
And for Indian-style dishes, cheese naan goes excellently with:
- Butter chicken
- Chana masala
- Dal makhani
- Veg korma
- Saag paneer
- Kebabs and tikkas
When serving cheese naan with Indian food, accompany with sliced onions, lemon wedges and cucumber raita on the side along with the rich gravies or dry preparations.
Tips and Variations
- For more flavor in the filling, also add chopped cilantro, green chili or crushed garlic.
- Stuff with a combination of cheddar and mozzarella cheese for more texture.
- For extra crunch and taste, sprinkle some sesame or nigella seeds on top of the rolled dough before cooking.
- Make paneer cheese naan by stuffing crumbled paneer along with regular cheese into the dough.
- Replace all-purpose flour fully or partly with whole wheat flour for a healthier, fiber-rich version.
- Baked cheese naan in an oven on a pizza stone or baking sheet instead of using skillet.
What cheese works best for stuffing naan?
Mozzarella is the most popular choice as it melts beautifully and stretches well too. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Provolone and Colby Jack are other good options.
Can I freeze leftover cheese naan?
Yes! Allow cooked cheese naan to cool completely, then wrap tightly and freeze in ziplock bags. Thaw before use and reheat on the skillet or in the oven.
Why is my cheese naan dough not puffing up?
Check that you added enough raising agent (yeast/baking powder) and the dough was kneaded well. Also ensure it proofed sufficiently before rolling out. Undercooking on the skillet can also prevent puffing up fully.
My cheese naan is turning out dense and chewy. How can I fix it?
Too much water in the dough can make it dense. Next time add lesser water while kneading the dough or the flour quality may also need to change. Resting it well before rolling is also important.
Cheese-stuffed naan is truly the best innovation combining the beloved flavors of Indian bread and cheesy goodness.
It elevates the experience of savoring traditional naan with its appetizing contrast of crisp, flaky exterior and molten, stretchy cheese core. Extremely versatile in usage - dip it, bite it plain or pair it!