What is a Naan?

Naan is a white leavened flatbread that is traditionally cooked in a tandoor. By baking the naan in a tandoor, the distinct charred sections and crispy edges are created; two things that make naan such a well-known and loved addition to speciality food.

How is Naan made?

The dough for naan is prepared with refined flour & curds/milk and salt, It is then baked in a tandoor, which is over 1.5 metres in height with a narrow neck at the top and a small hole at its base for air to enter.

The base is filled with charcoal and the fire in the oven can reach a maximum temperature of about 371 degrees Celsius.

After the ingredients have been added to the dough, it is kneaded vigorously until it is springy to the touch and left to rise, kept moist by a damp cloth.

The dough is then shaped into balls and flattened into pancakes before one side is pulled to form a teardrop shape. The flattened dough is then plastered onto the inside walls of the tandoor.

It takes slightly under four minutes for the naan to bake. The chef then skillfully manipulates two skewers to retrieve the naan from the tandoor. One skewer scrapes the naan away from the wall of the tandoor while the other is used to hook the naan out.

What is the taste of Naan?

The taste & flavour of naan is traditionally mild, making it a versatile addition to spicy and flavourful traditional dishes like kebabs & curries.

What is the origin of Naan?

Naan is first mentioned in 1300 AC by the Indian poet and musician Amir Khusrow. Still, its origin is almost certainly older: probably since the arrival of yeast & tandoor in India from Egypt. During the Mughal era, Naan was served as breakfast by noble families.

Naan in old Persian means bread, and in Iran indicates any kind of bread. The Naan bread served in all the Indian restaurants from all over the world has been likely invented between India and Pakistan.

Over the centuries, Naan spread into Myanmar, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran, and the Chinese region of Xingjian. As a result of the migration flows, Naan also reached the Persian Gulf.

In 1799 the Western world knew the Naan, thanks to William Tooke, an English historian, and clergyman who mentioned this bread on his logs and then in his etymological Encyclopedia of Russia.

What are the different types of Naan?

Types of naan prepared and available in India.

  • Plain Naan – simplest form which is brushed with ghee or butter
  • Garlic Naan – topped with crushed garlic and butter
  • Keema Naan – includes a filling of minced lamb, mutton or goat meat
  • Roghani Naan – sprinkled with sesame seeds, and is popular in Pakistan
  • Peshawari Naan and Kashmiri Naan –  filled with a mixture of nuts and raisins including pistachios
  • Paneer Naan – stuffed with a filling of paneer (cheese) flavoured with ground coriander and paprika
  • Amritsari Naan – stuffed with mashed potatoes and spices and also known as ‘Aloo Naan,’ originating from Amritsar, India

Kinds of regional naan

  • Balochi Nagan
  • Parthian Non
  • Sogdian Nyn
  • Pashto Neyan
  • Lahori Naan

Whether you favour plain, garlic, or other variants,  naan is an almost universal favourite for American lovers of Desi – an umbrella term for persons or items of Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi origin – cuisine.

The Naan has become a very popular flatbread to accompany Indian and Pakistani cuisine worldwide.

Interesting Facts About Naan

Naan is being used as the base flatbread for many different toppings such as mixed vegetables (sabzi), and grilled meats and even the advent of ‘Naan Pizza’ is seen in stores and at dinner tables.

In the UK, in 1926, overlooking the hustle and bustle of Regent Street, Veeraswamy, Britain’s oldest Indian restaurant served Naan on its menu.

Founded in 1984, Honeytop Speciality Foods became the first company in Europe to supply authentic Naan bread on a commercial scale to major retailers and restaurants. They introduced the first 13-week shelf-life flatbread.

The ‘World’s Biggest Naan Bread’ was made in 2004 by Honeytop Speciality Foods. It measured exactly 10ft by 4ft and celebrated the launch of Brewers Fayre’s Curry Nights in the UK. It took over five hours to make and required eight staff to carry it!

Another major record broken was by the restaurant called The Indian Ocean. They broke the Naan World Record by making 640 flatbreads in just one hour.

n Birmingham’s Balti restaurants in the UK, a ‘Family Naan’ can be ordered, which is a large table-sized flatbread cooked for everyone to share with their balti curry.

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