I've started routinely making naan. Wonderful stuff. ALL the baking powder recipes for naan insist that after mixing the dough (pretty much just flour, salt, yogurt/buttermilk,and baking powder), you let the dough sit for an hour before using. I can't make any sense out of this. Chemically, what's going on in that hour? I think I've seen this in other baking powder baking recipes as well.
Well it is funny indeed but as always there is a scientific reason behind this as well. The reason why most naan recipes call for the dough to rest for an hour after mixing is to allow the baking powder to fully activate and leaven the dough. Baking powder is a leavening agent consists of baking soda, cream of tartar, and a moisture-absorbing agent like cornstarch. When baking powder is mixed with a liquid and exposed to heat, a chemical reaction occurs, producing carbon dioxide gas. This gas expands and causes the dough to rise, resulting in a lighter, fluffier texture. However, if the dough is not given enough time to rest, the baking powder may not fully activate, resulting in a denser, tougher texture. Resting the dough allows the moisture in the dough to activate the baking powder, ensuring that it has enough time to release carbon dioxide and leaven the dough properly.
So, while it may seem unnecessary, letting the dough rest for an hour before using is an important step in ensuring that your naan turns out light, fluffy, and delicious.