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For the kibbutz, see Na'an

Naan ( , Hindi/Urdu/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 Englandmarker, Afghanistanmarker, Iranmarker, Indiamarker, Pakistanmarker, and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of Chinamarker, where it is considered the staple food.

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 نان, see also below. In Burmese, flat-breads are known as nan bya. In South-Asian languages naan appears as नान (Hindi), نان (Urdu), ਨਾਨ (Punjabi), نان (Persian). It is known to the Chinese as náng (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 Indiamarker, Pakistanmarker, Bangladeshmarker, Afghanistanmarker 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. The best-known varieties of naan in the UK (and other European countries) are the ones that have been popularized by South-Asian (Pakistani, Kashmiri, Indian and Bangladeshi) cuisines.


A bakery near Kabul, Afghanistan
Naan bya with mutton soup - a popular breakfast choice in Burma

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, nān (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 Birminghammarker, 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.

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 Burmamarker is a popular breakfast choice served usually with tea or coffee. It is round, soft, and blistered, often buttered, or with pè byouk (boiled peas) on top, or dipped in hseiksoup (mutton soup).

See also


  1. Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads - By Bernard Clayton, Donnie Cameron
  2. Qmin - By Anil Ashokan, Greg Elms
  3. The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook - By Beth Hensperger
  4. Crust & crumb - By Peter Reinhart
  5. Russia, or a Compleat Historical Account of all the Nations which compose that Empire, London, p. 168: "The most common dishes are onoschi, or vermicelli; plav, or boiled rice; nan, pancakes, and the meats which the law permits." (referring to the eating habits of the Central Turks). Other attestations in English can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. naan.
  6. See for instance Manfred Mayrhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen, Heidelberg 1996, vol. 2, p. 6, with further references. An Indo-European origin for this typical cultural term is highly unlikely.
  7., the latest hot destination for foodies
  8. For a recipe (video clip), see .

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