Though many Canadians believe that Naan originated in India, this flatbread was actually brought from Persia by the Mughals when they invaded Hindustan hundreds of years ago. According to the records of Amir Khusrau, an Indo-Persian poet who lived during the 1300 AD, it was cooked for the Mughal Emperors in the Imperial Court in Delhi and named as naan-e-tanuri and naan-e-tunuk. The flatbread was popularly consumed as a breakfast food along with kebab or keema.
If you think that you are getting to eat the bread once consumed by Mughal emperors, you would be right as well as wrong. This is because the basic ingredients of Naan are the same as they were before, but the cooking methods have evolved with passage of time. Dry yeast, flour, sugar, ghee, salt, yoghurt and warm water are the basic requirements. They help to prepare a smooth, elastic and stretchy dough. Some modern recipes make use of baking power as an alternative for yeast. Many chefs even utilize milk as an additional ingredient for achieving more thickness and volume.
Naan is always cooked using a tandoor oven, be it in the best restaurant in Commercial Drive or any regular Indian fast food center. Most eateries prepare multiple variants of the Naan so that visitors can have a wide range of options to choose from. The most popular ones are those made with butter, potato, garlic & basil, cilantro & onion or simply garlic. They are generally brushed with butter or ghee and served hot.
In some places within Canada and also outside the nation, Naans are being used to prepare new and unique menu items. For instance, a few European restaurants are utilizing it as a base for various toppings like grilled meat and mixed vegetables. Even something as exotic as the ‘Naan pizza’ is being offered at some restaurants and stores in the UK.
Naans that are found on the shelves of retail stores lack the subtle flavor of those prepared at any reputed Indian restaurant in Vancouver. This is because the former are mass produced in large volume, whereas the latter are carefully cooked by chefs. Irrespective of that, the Indian (or Persian) flatbread has journeyed a long way since its inception and is now enjoyed by millions of foodies across the globe. In fact, it ranks among the different types of bread most commonly consumed in Canada alone.