This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Nan is the persian word for “bread.” Different versions of nan are served all over Asia, from Xinjiang Province in China to Afghanistan and Lebanon, and if one counts the closely related Greek pita and perhaps even the Italian pizza, it is obvious that this sort of flatbread is a member of a family with global reach. The Indian nan that this recipe is based on is traditionally baked in a tandoor oven. I have modified the recipe for a normal household oven. Nan can serve as an alternative to rice, as an accompaniment to dips or soups, or simply as something to nibble on before the meal. You can easily make different variations of nan with different spices, or fill the breads with cheese, fruits, vegetables, or meats (see the variations below).

Makes6 breads

Cooking Methodbaking


Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, vegetarian

Mealdinner, snack

Taste and Texturebuttery, chewy

Type of Dishbread, yeast bread


  • 4 cups all purpose flour, or as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup plain full-fat yogurt
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • About 3 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Combine the yogurt and milk in a small pot and heat until the mixture reaches about 110 degrees F—no more than 120 degrees F, or you risk killing the yeast. Stir the yogurt mixture into the flour, then knead the dough for 1 to 2 minutes: let the dough rest for a couple or minutes, and repeat the kneading and resting two or three times, until the dough is smooth and soft. You may need a little more flour, but make sure not to “feed” it too much, or the nan will be hard and tough. Cover and allow to rise for about 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, raisins, and 2 teaspoons cumin seeds and sauté for 10 minutes, or until the onions are brown, Season with more cumin to taste, if desired. Remove from the heat.

  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

  4. Knead the onion mixture into the dough (alternatively, divide and roll out the dough, divide the onion mixture among the dough rounds, and fold each one over into a half-moon shape), Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Using your hands or a rolling pin, pat or roll out the dough to flat rounds (they don’t have to be perfect rounds), Rub your hands and the rolling pin generously with oil as necessary to prevent sticking.

  5. Place 1 or 2 breads at a time directly on an oven rack and bake until puffed up and with some dark brown patches, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pay close attention so the breads do not burn.

  6. Variations:

  7. Nan with Spicy Ground Meat: Sauté ground meat, preferably lamb, with onions, chiles, cardamom, cinnamon, and turmeric. Divide the dough into 6 pieces, roll out, and fill and bake as directed,

  8. Nan with Dried Fruits: Sauté onions, mixed dried fruits, and cinnamon (to taste) in oil until the onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Divide the dough into 6 pieces, roll out, and fill and bake as directed,

  9. Nan with Sesame Seeds: Sprinkle the plain nan dough, or any of the other variations, with sesame seeds before baking.


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