July 9, 2020
As one of the most recognisable sides to any Indian meal, Naan is a flatbread that deserves all the praise it receives. After all, it is incredibly versatile with a flavour palette that can be altered by simply changing the spices that are used in the dough. Read on as the team here at Royal Nawaab go over everything there is to know about Naan bread…
The first noted historical mention of Naan took place in 1300 AC by Indian poet and Musician Amir Khusrow, however it is thought that the flatbread is much older than that. After all, yeast from Ancient Egypt has been dated back to the year 3100 B.C! Over the years, Naan spread from country to country, including but not limited to Myanmar, Afghanistan, Iran and even the Chinese region of Xingjian. Interestingly, Naan can also be found in the 1803 travelogue of Englishman William Tooke, suggesting that the flatbread entered the U.K when Indian cuisine became a favourite of the people.
Due to the different cultures that can be found across the world, there are a lot of different varieties of Naan in terms of shape, texture, flavour and cooking process. In fact, the word itself often takes on a different meaning depending on the country it is made in. For example, in western Asia Naan is a generic term used to refer to any type of bread, whereas Southern Asia notes a specific type of flatbread that is a leavened with yeast and cooked in a tandoor. In addition to this, Naan in Indonesia is seasoned with local flavours and spices, whereas the people of Myanmar will often enjoy it as a breakfast snack.
There is truly nothing better than fresh, traditional Naan bread! After all, there is a lot of patience required in order to create the soft, pillow-y texture that this flatbread is known for. First the flour, yeast and salt are combined in one bowl, whilst warm water, yogurt and olive oil should be mixed together in another. Slowly but surely, the liquid ingredients should be added into the dry ingredients until they form a dough. After kneading it several times, the dough should be placed in a bowl to rise for around 1 hour and covered with cling film. Once it has doubled in size, divide the dough into equal sections and roll it into ovals on a floured surface before seasoning with spices like garlic, fennel, anise or even sesame seeds. The Naan should then be cooked on medium heat in a dry heavy bottom skillet, flipping half way through, until large bubbles appear, and served warm.
Interestingly, the word ‘naan’ means bread in old Persian and this means that the English phrase ‘naan bread’ humorously translates to ‘bread bread’. With this said, the team here at Royal Nawaab welcome all of our customers with open arms, regardless of any linguistical misinterpretations! To find out more information about the different types of flatbread in Indian cuisine, get in contact with the best restaurant London has to offer and speak to a member of the Royal Nawaab team today!