Sourdough Naan

I bake sourdough because it’s delicious. But many people find its tangy flavor because they have problems digesting other breads. Get sourdough recipes at
I bake sourdough because it’s delicious. But many people discover its tangy flavor because they have problems digesting other breads. Studies have found that sourdough—particularly homemade, long-ferment sourdough—is not only easier to digest but may have bonus health benefits. It makes sense if you think about it: You feed your sourdough starter flour. It eats it, turning it into more wild yeast and healthy bacteria. When you use it to make a bread, the longer the dough sits, the more it predigests the flour for you. As it does this, the sourdough bacteria release micronutrients, neutralize phytic acid, and stabilize blood sugar levels. And this all makes the bread twice as tasty.

The upshot is that if you have a gluten sensitivity but have not been diagnosed with full-blown celiac disease, you may be able to eat homemade sourdough breads. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, so you should discuss this with yours, but there’s disagreement on whether gluten-free products, particularly commercially processed ones, are better than their homemade, wheat-based counterparts if you don’t have immune reactions to gluten.

This all came home to me with my first Twice as Tasty Live house concert. The hostess had been diagnosed as celiac but had discovered she could eat naan without problems. So I started researching naan, sourdough, and how to create a bread I could serve at her party. After much testing, I discovered I could make a light, tasty naan with a blend of chickpea and whole-wheat flours. Chickpeas are gluten free but have a distinct flavor, and whole-wheat flour has less gluten than all-purpose flour but more bran and phytic acid. By combining the two and feeding it to my sourdough starter, the wild yeast had something to chew on while creating a workable dough. I added homemade yogurt into the mix, another product that benefits from long fermentation, and ended up with a low-gluten flatbread that was the talk of the night.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 4 main ingredients plus a couple of kitchen staples.
1. Mix the dough and let it rise.
2. Divide the dough into pieces and roll it out flat.
3. Bake the naan quickly at a high temperature.
4. Brush with butter and eat hot.
Still need Sourdough Starter? Get it from me for free through January 31, 2019!

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Low-Gluten Sourdough Naan

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
200 grams Sourdough Starter (100% hydration)
120 grams Fresh Yogurt
150 grams water
1 tablespoon melted butter or ghee
125 grams chickpea flour
300 grams whole-wheat flour
8 grams (about 1 teaspoon) fine sea salt
olive oil (for rolling)
melted butter, clarified butter, or ghee (for brushing)

Set a bowl on a kitchen scale. Measure in the starter and then the yogurt, water, and butter, whisking until combined. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes while you feed your starter. Mix in the flours just until the sticky dough comes together. Cover again and let rest for 30 minutes.

Add the salt and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about a minute, until the salt is incorporated and the dough forms a ball. Place it in an oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover and set aside to rise for at least 4 hours, until doubled.

When the dough has nearly doubled in size, preheat your oven and a baking stone or sheet to the oven’s highest temperature (mine is 550°F). Once the oven is at temperature, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface. Flatten the dough ball slightly to an even height, and then cut it into 8 wedges. Separate, but don’t shape, the wedges; cover them with the damp tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Use a rolling pin or your hands to roll or stretch each dough wedge into a teardrop shape about 1/8 inch thick, adding more oil to the rolling pin and your work surface as needed.

Place 1–2 teardrops on the baking stone. Bake for 2 minutes, flip, and bake 1 additional minute. Place the flatbreads on a plate or cutting board and continue baking the remaining dough. While the naan is still hot, brush it with melted butter. Serve immediately while still warm. Makes 8 flatbreads.

Tips & Tricks
  • I call this low-gluten bread because the ingredients and process ensure it has less gluten than my other sourdough flatbreads or commercial full-wheat products. But I haven’t tested the final gluten content; if gluten is a concern for you, talk with your doctor before trying the recipe.
  • Ghee is more traditional, but unless you use it often enough to keep a supply on hand, melted butter is an easy substitute. If you aren’t yet making your own yogurt, you can substitute commercial yogurt—or sign up for one of my workshops!
  • If the kitchen is warm and the dough seems to rise too quickly, you can transfer it to the fridge to slow its progression. You could bake it earlier if it rapidly doubles in size, but you won’t get quite as strong of a sourdough flavor and may get a chewier texture.
  • You can also postpone your baking by placing the dough in the fridge. This is easiest after you’ve cut the dough into wedges; just wrap each wedge in a piece of waxed paper, place them in a zip-close bag, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  • Because I developed this recipe to make in a low-gluten house, I wanted to limit the amount of flour I was throwing around the kitchen. Oiling your rolling surface and tools requires a heavier hand during cleanup, but it works almost as well as flouring your surfaces to prevent sticking.
  • Sourdough naan is best when made fresh and served hot. It’s delicious on its own or as a base. Serve it as a flatbread topped with fresh herbs and crumbled Dry-Salted Feta. Or cut it into pieces to serve with an Indian-inspired dip (see below) at a party or alongside an Indian meal.

I bake sourdough because it’s delicious. But many people find its tangy flavor because they have problems digesting other breads. Get sourdough recipes at

Twice as Tasty

Many cultures create leavened, oven-baked flatbreads—pizza, pita, naan, and so many more. I tend to mix the breads I make with whatever cultural flavors suit my fancy: pizza dough into empanadas, pita bread alongside Asian White Bean Dip, naan under Quick-Pickled Beet Snacks. But sometimes you want to stick with a more traditional theme. So I developed a dip recipe that calls on Indian flavors to bring out the best of naan.

Although I was inspired by the eminent Madhur Jaffrey, I found her technique for cooking lentils gave me more soup than dip. So I tweaked and adapted until a found a more appealing texture. I’m also drawn to ingredients more easily found in my climate. My recipe here may not be quite traditional, but it’s quick and easy to make and suitable for a wide audience: gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and clean. It’s also so yummy that you’ll want to eat it all in one sitting but so filling that you might get to save some for later.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 1 main ingredient plus a bunch of spices and aromatics.
1. Cook the lentils.
2. Cook the flavorings in the oil.
3. Stir them together and enjoy.

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Spiced Red Lentil Dip

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
1 cup lentils
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 dried chili, crushed
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil, slivered or crushed
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 lime

Pour the lentils into a fine-mesh sieve, remove any debris, and rinse under running water. Add the lentils and water to a medium saucepan. Bring them to a boil, skimming off any foam to ensure the pot doesn’t boil over. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and stir in the turmeric. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape. Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the pan, checking for your desired texture toward the end of the cooking time. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt; cover the saucepan with a lid and set it aside.

Prepare the remaining ingredients so that they’re ready to add quickly. Pour the oil to a small frying pan and heat it over medium-high heat until just below smoking point. Stir in the mustard seeds; wait a few seconds until they start to pop, and then stir in the chili, quickly followed by the garlic. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly to keep the mustard seeds under control, until the garlic is golden on both sides. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dried or fresh basil.

Pour the infused oil over the lentils and stir to distribute evenly. Squeeze in the lime juice, and stir again; for a thinner dip, stir in a tablespoon or two of warm water. Serve immediately. Makes about 2 cups.

Tips & Tricks
  • Red lentils don’t need soaking and cook more quickly than other beans: 10–15 minutes keeps some shape, another 10 minutes turns them to mush, and 50 minutes makes them baby food. Lentils keep cooking a bit after you remove them from the heat, so err on the side of slightly undercooked.
  • You can cook the lentils ahead of time and store them in the fridge for 3–4 days. They’ll stiffen up the longer they sit, so reheat them over low heat with a bit of warm water.
  • Want other flavors? Add more, or hotter, chilies, or go heavy on the fresh basil in summer. Instead of just juicing the lime, you can stir in its zest. Other flavor options include curry leaves, bay leaves, curry powder, tahini, or any spices you would add to hummus.
  • Low-Gluten Sourdough Naan dips smoothly into these lentils, but it has many uses. Raw vegetables can handle this sturdy dip, or it makes a savory sandwich spread under smoked beets.

Like what you’ve learned here but don’t have a sourdough starter? Now’s your chance! The 2nd Annual Sourdough Giveaway runs through January 31, 2019. Learn how to get your free sourdough starter here.


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