Naan bread is an iconic Indian flatbread that is easy to whip up at home. It is excellent as part of a breakfast, or served alongside a meal to soak up any leftover juices or sauces.
If you have worked your way through a naan bread recipe, only to realize that you don’t have any yogurt, the search for a replacement ingredient is at hand. Or, perhaps you are looking to make a vegan or dairy free version of naan bread. What are some substitutes for yogurt in naan?
A few substitutes for yogurt in naan include lactose-free yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream. You can also use milk or creme fraiche in your favorite naan recipe.
Substitutes For Yogurt In Naan Bread
When baking naan bread, most recipes require yogurt or milk. This is a traditional, standard technique, passed down through the centuries. The proteins in yogurt allow naan dough to keep a soft, elastic consistency. Naan bread dough should be slightly sticky, and getting a rise is necessary for creating air pockets.
Not using yogurt in your naan bread will result in a dough that is crumbly and dry. It will be difficult to form the dough at all, much less have the correct eating consistency once it is baked.
Another important piece that yogurt brings to the table in a naan recipe is lactic acid. The lactic acid will provide the unique sourdough-like flavor that naan bread is known for.
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Lactic acid additionally activates the yeast, allowing it to grow faster and create carbon dioxide gas. Those gasses are what cause the dough to rise.
It is important then when you are looking for a substitute for yogurt in naan bread that you use something that will either take the place of lactic acid, or that will serve the same purpose.
1. Dairy-Free Yogurt
If you are replacing yogurt in naan bread because you are trying to avoid dairy, your favorite brand of non-dairy or lactose-free yogurt can take its place.
Non-dairy yogurt will not have lactic acid, as is its nature. However, it usually has a different form of acid in order to replicate the slight tanginess of yogurt.
This acid will activate the yeast as needed, and the proteins and calcium within the dairy-free yogurt will help create a rise. Lactose-free yogurt usually has the same consistency and texture of dairy yogurt, meaning your dough will not dry out.
Buttermilk is an excellent substitute for yogurt in naan bread. What makes it so good is the tankiness of it. Buttermilk is known for its unique, slightly acidic flavor – a flavor that will allow the naan bread to retain its desired taste.
Buttermilk has the necessary lactic acid, which will benefit the yeast. When you are using buttermilk in place of yogurt in naan bread, be aware that it will ferment faster. This may impact how your yeast blooms, and if it is left to ferment too long, the altered flavor of your bread will be noticeable.
Naan made with buttermilk instead of yogurt will be slightly softer. This may be a good thing if you prefer your flatbreads to be on the more pillowy side.
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3. Sour Cream
A tub of sour cream is easy to find in most refrigerators. That makes it another good replacement for yogurt when making naan bread. Sour cream will also allow for the needed tankiness, and the end result will be softer and fluffier.
Do not be over generous when using sour cream in place of yogurt in naan. If you add too much, the man will be too dense and claggy.
The most simple alternative to yogurt and naan bread is milk. Whole milk will be the most helpful in this case, as it has a higher fat content. You will still get the needed lactic acid, however you may miss some of the desired acidity.
When replacing yogurt with milk in a non recipe, double the amount. For every 1 cup of yogurt, use two cups of warm milk. Since milk will not be as thick as yogurt, you may need to adjust other elements of the bread, like flour, to achieve the ideal consistency.
5. Creme Fraiche
Creme fraiche is thick, rich, and silky smooth and texture. It has a slight tanginess, and is made from cultured cream. Cultured cream is made by adding lactic acid bacteria to cream. The bacteria will ferment the lactose in the cream, thickening it to the desired consistency.
Because of this. It is an excellent replacement for yogurt in a lot of different recipes. This includes naan bread. The Taste will be extremely similar, even indistinguishable.
However, it is missing some of the components, such as proteins, that come into play in generating the chewy, crispy, air-pocket-filled texture of naan.
For vegan recipes, silken tofu is an excellent substitute for yogurt in naan. The consistency of tofu, as creamy, makes the dough pliable and smooth.
However, it lacks the characteristic tanginess that’s almost synonymous with traditional naan. To remedy this, consider squeezing a touch of lemon juice into the dough,to recreate that authentic sourness.
The result? A naan that retains its softness, with the tangy flavor profile brought back to life. For anyone eager to experiment with tofu in naan, don’t forget that hint of citrus to elevate the taste!
7. Coconut Cream Chronicles
Inspired by tropical flavors and the versatility of coconut, you can replace yogurt with coconut cream in your naan recipe. The thick consistency of coconut cream feels promising, and the aroma captivating. We like Thai kitchen unsweetened coconut cream.
On baking, the naan has a rich texture and a delicate coconut undertone, which complemented spicy Indian dishes beautifully. However, a note of caution: adjusting the quantity of coconut cream is crucial.
Too much can make your dough overly moist, leading to a heavy naan. But get the balance right, and you have a tropical twist to your traditional flatbread.
8. Almond Milk
Seeking more dairy-free avenues, almond milk is an enticing option. It’s naturally thinner than yogurt, so you might need to tweak the flour content.
The resulting naan has a lighter texture with subtle nutty undertones, setting it apart from the conventional naan.
This almond-infused variant is particularly delightful when paired with rich, creamy Indian gravies. It may require a few trials to perfect the dough consistency, but the unique flavor profile is worth the effort.
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A deep dive into fermented foods, kefir is as a potential yogurt substitute for naan. With its rich lactic acid content, it feels like the perfect ingredient.
The naans will turn out soft and airy, with a delightful tang. Kefir not only maintains the traditional flavors but also adds its own subtle fermented notes, making it a refreshing alternative. If you have kefir at hand, I highly recommend giving it a try.
10. Non-Traditional Flavors
You can as well turn to unconventional substitutes like avocado and pumpkin puree. Although these might alter the very essence of naan’s flavor, they introduce a delightful twist.
Avocado gives a buttery richness, while pumpkin adds a subtle sweetness and earthiness. They might not align with the traditional taste of naan, but they offer a fresh, unique take that’s worth a culinary exploration.
Additional Tips For The Perfect Taste
A few additional tweaks can take your naan to a whole new level. We’ll show you how to infuse your bread with incredible taste, making each bite a culinary delight.
Storage and Shelf Life
One of the most common questions is, “How do you store naans made with different substitutes?” From my experience, naans with buttermilk tend to dry out faster than those made with creme fraiche.
My trick is to wrap them in a clean cloth before storing them in an airtight container. Depending on your substitute, you might also notice slight variations in shelf life, so always enjoy them while they’re fresh!
Pairings and Uses
The perfect naan elevates any meal. For instance, almond milk naans complement spicy North Indian gravies, while coconut cream naan has this unique ability to beautifully pair with tangy South Indian curries.
It’s fascinating how a slight change in the base ingredient can open up a world of flavor pairings. So next time you experiment with a yogurt substitute, think about the curries or dishes you’re pairing it with!
When substituting yogurt in naan, it’s essential to be wary of potential allergens. For instance, some almond milk brands can contain traces of cashews. Always double-check ingredient lists, especially if you’re baking for someone with specific allergies.
For a more exciting culinary experience, why not make ingredients from scratch? Why buy almond milk when you can make it at home with just almonds and water?
Homemade substitutes not only taste better, but they also allow you to control what goes into your naan. Plus, they’re super easy!
For instance, for a quick cultured cashew cream, blend soaked cashews with a bit of lemon juice and a splash of water. Let it sit overnight, and voila! Homemade, cultured, dairy-free cream ready for your naan.
Naan bread takes a lot of work to make, but the end result is worth every minute. However, if you are hours into the process and only now realizing that you don’t have any yogurt, you will find yourself searching the kitchen for something else to use.
Buttermilk makes for an excellent replacement for yogurt and naan bread. It has the needed lactic acid and will allow for the tanginess to come through in the final taste of your flatbread.
Sour cream or creme fraiche will also come in handy. Finally, if you have nothing else, using milk will at least help the dough rise.
Tiffany McCauley is a celebrated food and travel journalist and cookbook author known for her engaging stories on culinary adventures and cultural insights. With a background featuring collaborations with notable brands and publications, Tiffany brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to Fanatically Food, where she champions taste, sustainability, and the art of cooking. Read More Here