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What is Naan?

Naan is a flat Indian bread baked in Tandoor, a clay oven


The 'Naan' is a Persian word meaning bread. In Afghanistan, Tandoor was used as a community oven where people would come with the dough, the facilitator (Nanwaee meaning 'naan maker') would bake bread for a fee. Nanwaee was able to bake large quantities of bread in a short time. In the olden days these community Tandoor were built underground.

Everyone loves their own food. Arabs, Mongols, and Afghan rulers of India were no exception. Amir Khusrow (1253-1325) was associated with royal courts of more than seven rulers of Delhi Sultanate. Khusrow documented 'Naan-e-tanuk', and 'Naan-e-Tanuri' being served at the imperial court in Delhi. He describes Naan-e-Tanuk as a light bread or thin bread. This was most likely cooked on a large iron griddle (Tawa) just like a Roti. Naan-e-Tanuri was a thicker bread baked in Tanur (Tandoor). Tandoor was used to bake Naan-e-Tanuri in large quantities in a short time to serve the royal courts


Naan was eaten with Keema (Ground Mutton) or Kebab for breakfast.


Naan Shape

Naan can be shaped round (about 7" diameter) like a Roti or Pita bread. It can also be shaped triangular as if it was a slice of 18" pizza.


Naan Ingredients

The basic ingredients for Naan and Pizza are very similar. Classical Naan is made with flour, yeast, egg. A ball of dough is pinched off, stretched to a triangular form, Nigella (Kalonji) seeds were pressed in. The bread was slapped to the hot wall of the Tandoor. If the Tandoor was not hot enough, the bread will not stick to the wall. In about 7 to 10 minutes the bread will puff up with visible brown spots. A metal rod about 3 foot long with a wooden handle on one-end and and a hook on the opposite-end is used to peel the Naan off the walls.


Naan recipes vary with or without eggs (many Hindus don not eat eggs), replacing yeast with or in combination with baking powder, or a combination of baking soda and cream of Tartar.

The flour used may be Atta (regular bread flour in India), refined flour (Maida) or combination of both. In the royal kitchen of Akbar, the flour was a combination of refined flour (Maida) and regular bread flour (Atta).

Naan maybe plain or stuffed with nuts and dried fruits. Spicy Naan are made with onions, garlic.

Softer Naan can be made by kneading mashed potatoes in the dough.


Baking Naan

- Tandoor is conventional and remains the best method of baking Naan

- At home you can use two pizza stones to emulate Tandoor.

- Gas charcoal grill makes the Naan tough

- Cook on stove-top on a very heavy hot griddle. Wrought Iron griddle gives acceptable results. You may finish in broiler for better results


Naan - Classic Old Fashioned

Naan - Potato-Dough Egg-free

Naan - Traditional Egg-free

Naan - Peshawari

Naan - Onion

What is Naan Atta? How to make Naan Atta?

Tandoor History

What is a Tandoor how it works

How to use home oven as Tandoor?

Evolution of Tandoori Cuisine

Can I use Charcoal grill to make Tandoori foods?


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