We reached out to Akshay Bhardwaj, longtime executive chef at famed NYC Indian fine eatery Junoon, to loan us his recipe for the spiced cheese naan we just can’t get enough of. Thankfully, Chef Akshay believes that cheese naan recipes belong to everyone.
“At Junoon, we are constantly trying to come up with modernist twists to traditional Indian dishes. We wanted to make eating our naan bread a fun adventure, so adding cheese and a flavorful spice to top it off seemed like a solid starting point,” says Bhardwaj. “Six years after putting it on the menu, it seems like the cheese naan is destined to stay on the menu for another six years or more.”
If you’ve never made naan before, it’s not difficult! But heed these words from the chef:
“When working with dough, you must use common sense and feel it. If it is very sticky after you let it rest, add some flour. Keep an eye on the heat of the pan and amount of oil used, it can burn the bread if too hot.”
- 1/2 cup gruyere cheese, finely grated
- 1/2 cup paneer cheese, finely grated
- 1/3 cup sumac
- 3 tablespoons dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 2 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
For the cheese
Mix in a bowl.
For the za'atar
Grind to a fine powder and mix together.
For the dough
In a bowl combine the yeast, sugar and water. Once frothy, whisk in the oil, yogurt and egg until evenly combined.
In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the salt and baking powder.
Pour the wet ingredients to the flour and salt mixture and stir until combined. Keep adding flour (1/2 cup at a time) until you can no long stir with a spoon. It should be 1 to 1 1/2 cups of flour.
Knead the ball of dough for 3 minutes in the mixing bowl, adding small amount of flour to keep the dough from sticking. Total amount of flour used should be 2 1/2 cups.
Loosely cover dough with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.
Shape 8 pieces of dough into small balls. Add a little bit of flour so it doesn’t stick to surface.
Add 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture in the center of the dough and and fold the dough over to cover the cheese inside the dough like a stuffing.
Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Working with one ball at a time, roll it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick or approximately 6 inches in diameter. Place the rolled out dough onto the hot skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown and large bubbles have formed on the surface. Flip the dough and cook the other side until golden brown as well.
Brush with butter and sprinkle zataar spice on top.