Naan is a form of flatbread common throughout Southeast and Central Asia, particularly India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan. It comes in the form of a flat, generally circular piece of bread. The dough of this bread is made with wheat flour, which is traditionally cooked on the walls of a tandoori oven. After cooking, a chef will generally brush the bread with ghee butter and serve it hot. Different forms of the bread will be mixed with garlic, yogurt, milk, or other ingredients to make it sweet, spicy, or savory.
There are numerous ways to enjoy naan. It is common to find it served by itself as an appetizer, much in the same way a restaurant might offer a basket of complimentary rolls. It is also commonly used as part of a larger dish, serving as a wrap for meat, the bread for a kind of open-faced sandwich, a dipping bread, or a base upon which a stew may be served.
The word “naan” itself is a derivation of the Persian word for bread, “non”. It goes by different names in other languages, including “nan” in Turkish languages and “nan bya” in Burmese.
A Brief History of Naan
Naan traces its origins back to India. The process for using yeast to make bread rise would not be fully understood for hundreds of years, so unleavened bread was common throughout the world. The earliest record of naan’s use comes to us in the form of a set of notes from 1300 AD, written by an Indo-Persian poet by the name of Amir Kushrau. This iconic flatbread was evidently first cooked at the Imperial Court in Delhi, where it was served as naan-e-tunuk (“light bread”) or naan-e-tanuri (“bread cooked in a tandoor oven”). It became popular among the royals, who would often eat it with keema or kebob for breakfast.
Over time, naan evolved in its style and preparation. It was embraced as a staple throughout South Asia, eventually making it to the West in 1926 when Veeraswamy, the oldest Indian restaurant in Britain, opened. By the 1970’s, it became popular throughout North America and Britain. Today, you can find naan in many different varieties in Indian restaurants throughout the globe.
Naan-Based Indian Cuisine in Bellevue
At MokSHA, you can partake of this Indian classic in several different forms. Try our plain naan, butter naan, garlic naan, or spiced naan as a side dish. It’s a great complement to all of our Bellevue Indian cuisine.