What Is Naan?

A popular everyday Indian bread


Naan is a leavened bread made from maida, an Indian white flour that is very delicate and powdery, similar to pastry flour. It is eaten most often with curry, used instead of a spoon to sop up all of the sauce and to pick up vegetables (and meat). It is often seasoned with nigella seeds — black seeds with a slightly astringent flavor that can be found in Indian grocery stores and are sometimes mistakenly called “onion seeds,” “black sesame,” or “black cumin.”

Naan is usually cooked quickly in a hot tandoor, a cylindrical clay and brick oven with a dome-shaped top. Since this type of oven has an open flame, temperatures are often in excess of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, the dough is hurled towards the wall of the oven, where it sticks. There, the bread bakes until it puffs up and chars slightly in spots, and then is removed from the oven with a stake. If making naan at home, it’s also possible to use a regular oven; just like with a tandoor, make sure to bake until browned and crisp in spots. (Photo courtesy of flickr/Theo Wright)

So the next time curry is on the menu, and steamed basmati rice just seems like a tired option, try naan as a delicious alternative.

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