Friday, April 4, 2014

新疆馕 Xinjiang Naan Bread

To date Xinjiang Naan is the most popular recipe on this blog with the highest number of views. The post was looking pretty rough as it was among my first posts on this blog which I started 4 years ago. So I gave it a new photo shoot as well as step-by step pictures and I have moved the post to the top so that all those who are have just recently started following this blog will notice it. It is most definitely a must try recipe. Just looked at how airy, light and soft the inside is and how brown and crispy the exterior is. And loaded with flavorful seasoning to boot.
Look and see as my daughter takes a bite at the chewy, yet fluffy texture.
Oh, and she is back for some more!
Xinjiang is the western most province of China. Xinjiang is also known as Eastern Turkestan. It is an autonomous region of China. Xinjiang has a large population of Muslim Chinese known as Uygurs. Uygurs have migrated to regions all over China looking for work and many have opened restaurants. Because of this, Xinjiang cuisine can be found throughout most of China. Anyone who goes to China is likely to happen upon Xinjiang lamb kabobs being roasted over coals as they are a common street snack found all over China. Most people associate naan bread with India but as far as I know it originated in Persia, naan is actually a Persian word. There are many shapes and varieties of naan bread around the world. Xinjiang naan is cooked in a large clay pit in the ground.
Image found at
Image found at

My husband and I often ordered this at our favorite Muslim Chinese restaurant in Beijing. They would baste it with chili sauce and roast it over the coals. We would pair it with Xinjiang lamb kebabs also roasted over the coals. Very soon I plan on sharing with you how you can have your very own Xinjiang BBQ at home. Recipes for both BBQ naan and lamb kabobs are coming soon so keep checking back. It won't be long! We are planning a Xinjiang BBQ at our house this weekend!

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. milk or yogurt
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. salt
up to 4 1/2 cups flour

finely chopped green onion
white sesame seeds
whole caraway or fennel seeds
whole cumin seeds

In a large bowl dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let set until a tall foam has formed, 10-20 minutes. Mix in egg and milk or yogurt. Beat in 3 cups of flour and salt for 1 minute. 
Measure out the remaining 1.5 cups of flour. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the flour over a clean surface. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes adding a little flour at a time when the dough gets too sticky to manage.
Keep the dough constantly moving. Only add as much flour as needed to get a soft and manageable but still slightly sticky dough. I used just over 3 1/2 cups flour in total.
Clean the bowl and rub a little oil around inside then form the dough into a tight ball, place in the oiled bowl and cover.
Let the dough rise until double in size and then punch down and rise again. Place your pizza stone on the top shelf in your oven and preheat your oven to the highest temperature  or 500 F. Most places online tell you the middle or even the bottom shelf gets the most even heating (even my pizza stone box said that) but I was getting poor results following that advice. The bottom of the crust would not brown and the top would. After a lot of searching I finally found a site that had a very detailed and scientific explanation on heating properties in an oven and the showed why the top shelf gets the most even heating. Moved my pizza stone to the top shelf and finally my pizza had a brown bottom! And not only that but the bottom and top were both evenly browned. I have continued to get these results for over a year now. Works great for this naan bread as well. 
 Divide the dough in two. I doubled the recipe here so that is why I have it divided into four.
Maneuver your fist to create a crater in the center of the balls of dough.
Grab onto the raised edge with both hands and work your hands around the edge gently until the dough stretches out into a 9" in diameter circle with about a 1/2 inch raised edge. If you would like to see how they are formed there is a video of some bakers from Xinjiang working in Beijing on YouTube called Beijing Naan (a).
Prepare the seasonings.
Brush the dough with water or milk and sprinkle with the seasonings to taste. Place on parchment paper. 
Use a fork to poke holes all over the inside of the circle but leaving the edge.
Place on the preheated pizza stone or upside down baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
 Mmmm...mmm...mmm...soooo good.


  1. sounds gorgeous and nice pictures with cute panada!

  2. My friend and I just visit couple cities in XinJiang including Urumqi, Kanas and Kashi (Kashgar) in June. It is fascinated to see how they make it on the street. There are different recipe in different cities. The most delicious one is from Kashi which is border to Pakistan which 85% of the population is Muslim. The Nann costs only 2 RMB, equal to 0.35 USD. Thank you for the recipe and I will sure attempt to make it.