Naan (Persian: نان, Pashto, Urdu /Hindi/Punjabi: नान, نان ,ਨਾਨ) is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread. It is one of the most popular varieties of South Asian breads and is particularly popular in India,Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, and Indian restaurants in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States of America, Australia, and New Zealand. Influenced by the large influx of Pakistani, Afghan and Indian labour, Naan has also became popular in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. It is considered a typical bread of the northern Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan.
Originally, naan is a generic term for various flat-breads from different parts of the world. In Turkic languages, such as Uzbek, Kazakh and Uyghur, the flat-breads are known as nan. The name stems from (New) Persian, a generic word for bread. In Burmese, flat-breads are known as nan bya (; pronounced [naɴbja]). In South Asian languages, naan appears as नान (Hindi), نان (Urdu), ਨਾਨ (Punjabi), نان (Persian). It is known to the Chinese as nang (馕).
The earliest appearance of "naan" in English literature dates back to 1780, viz. in a travelogue of William Tooke. The originally Persian word naan 'bread' (= Tajik non (нон)) is already attested in Middle-Persian / Pahlavi as n'n 'bread, food'. The form itself is either of Iranian or even Indo-Iranian origin, cognate forms include Parthian ngn, Balochi nagan, Sogdian nγn-, Pashto nəγan - "bread". The form naan has a widespread distribution, having been borrowed in a range of languages spoken in Central-Asia, and in the aftermath of Muslim conquests, also in South-Asia, i.e. present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the surrounding regions. In these countries and regions, the generic designation "naan" refers to a kind of (in most cases) flatbread, baked according to locally adapted recipes.
A bakery near Kabul, Afghanistan - wikipedia.org
An Uyghur naan baker, Kashga - wikipedia.org
Peshwari naan freshly prepared in Tandoor oven. - wikipedia.org
The most familiar and readily available varieties of "naan" in Britain (and other Western countries) are the South-Asian ones. In Iran, from which the word "naan" has ultimately originated, nan (نان) does not carry any special significance, as it is merely the everyday word for "(any kind of) bread". On the other hand, naan in South-Asia usually refers to a specific kind of thick flatbread (another well-known kind of flatbread is chapati). Generally, it resembles pita bread and, like pita bread, is usually leavened with yeast; unleavened dough (similar to that used for roti) is also used. Naan is cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven, from which tandoori cooking takes its name. This distinguishes it from roti which is usually cooked on a flat or slightly concave iron griddle called a tava. Modern recipes sometimes substitute baking powder for the yeast. Milk or yoghurt may also be used to give greater volume and thickness to the naan. Typically, the naan will be served hot and brushed with ghee or butter. It can be used to scoop other foods, or served stuffed with a filling: for example, keema naan is stuffed with a minced meat mixture (usually lamb or mutton); Another variation is peshwari or peshawari naan. Peshawari naan and Kashmiri naan are filled with a mixture of nuts and raisins; Kulcha is another type of Naan. Amritsari naan also called as Amritsari kulcha is stuffed with mashed potatoes, onion (optional) and lots of spices. Possible seasonings in the Naan dough include cumin and nigella seeds. The Indian dish of balti, popular in Birmingham, England is always eaten with a naan and this has given rise to the huge "Karack" or table naan, easy to share amongst large groups.
A typical naan recipe involves mixing white flour with salt, a yeast culture, and enough yogurt to make a smooth, elastic dough. The dough is kneaded for a few minutes, then set aside to rise for a few hours. Once risen, the dough is divided into balls (about 100 grams or 3½ oz each), which are flattened and cooked. In Pakistani cuisine, naans are typically graced with fragrant essences, such as rose, khus (vetiver), with butter or ghee melted on them. Nigella seeds are commonly added in Naan Breads as cooked in Indian restaurants throughout the UK.
A cheese naan - wikipedia.org
Raisins and spices can be added to the bread to add to the flavour. Naan can also be covered with various toppings of meat, vegetables, and/or cheese. This version is sometimes prepared as fast food. It can also be dipped into such "soups" as dal and goes well with sabzis (also known as shaakh).
Naan bya in Burma is a popular breakfast choice served usually with tea or coffee. It is round, soft, and blistered, often buttered, or with pe byouk (boiled peas) on top, or dipped in hseiksoup (mutton soup).