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Naan

Naan and yogurt dip. Photo courtesy of Fabulous Flats.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.


 

March 2008

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Bread Products

Fabulous Flats Tandoori Naan

Indian Flatbread Gives New Heft To Everyday Meals

CAPSULE REPORT: International flatbreads like lavasch, pita and tortillas have been available for years. Now it’s time for another of the world’s great flatbreads, India’a naan, to move into mainstream America. Thanks to Fabulous Flats, they may already be at a retailer near you.

Overview

Flatbreads are on the rise. We reported a year ago in our daily Gourmet News & Views that, while sales in other categories of bread might be flat, sales in flatbreads were climbing. Flatbreads are the oldest breads on earth—they precede leavening agents,* which enable bread to rise. Today, there are unleavened flatbreads (crepes, tortillas, arepas, pita) as well as chewy leavened varieties (baladi, bruschetta, ciabatta, dosai, focaccia, inerja, mafrood, naan, pane carasau, piadine, pizza, roti, tanoor)—there are about 60 different flatbreads made worldwide.

*The first leavening agent was wild yeast, carried in the air. The bakers of ancient Egypt were the were first to master how to use it to leaven their dough: the one-cell organisms feed on carbohydrates and release carbon dioxide to cause batter to rise. When the Jews made their exodus from Egypt, they did not have time to let their dough rise using the time-consuming technique; hence, they had to bake the unleavened matzoh. Over the millennia, yeast starters were cultivated but required care. In the late 1700s, pearl ash, a crude form of potassium carbonate extracted from ashes of wood, was discovered to be an effective leavening, and became the first chemical leavening agent, making baking much easier and fail-safe. Today, packaged instant yeast is the solution for most baking, although artisan bakers still use live yeast cultures.

Flatbread, a product previously limited to specialty food stores and ethnic markets and restaurants, has gone mainstream. In the U.S., new products with the name “flatbread” more than tripled to 66 in 2006 from 20 in 2005, the most recent data available, according to research firm Mintel. Quiznos is including flatbread with much of its salad line. Arby’s is promoting flatbread melts. Dunkin’ Donuts has tested flatbread sandwiches. And Stouffer’s has its new Corner Bistro flatbread pizzas.

Which brings us to naan, the round flatbread of northern India that is also a staple in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and other neighbors in the region. It is made of white wheat flour and resembles a pocketless pita, although there are a number of styles: Some are unleavened and very flat, some are leavened and puffy and some, like the products in this review, have added milk or yogurt to create more volume, plus ghee (clarified butter) for added flavor.

Naan
Garlic Naan from Fabulous Flats. This style is leavened with added milk and ghee, so it is much fluffier than unleavened varieties.

Fabulous Flats Tandoori Naan, shown in the photo above, is Indian-style flatbread made by a specialist bakery in Canada (FGF Brands) and distributed at fine retailers throughout the U.S. (Indian bread made by a Canadian bakery for sale in the U.S.—the world is a global village, indeed.) Naan is one of the many flatbreads of India, a specialty of Northern Indian cuisine. It is made in a tandoori oven, a round clay oven heated over coals (the same type of oven also used to cook chicken and other foods). The difference between naan and a very similar-looking Indian flatbread called roti is that the latter is cooked on a flat griddle, called the tawa. While naan is not called “tandoori” naan under other circumstances, the manufacturer of Fabulous Flats has elected to use the term to emphasize that this naan is made in a tandoori oven.

Naan Flatbread
Above: Fabulous Flats’ Original flavor Tandoori Naan, shown here with raita and chutneys.

“Naan” actually means “bread” in several Asian languages, both singular and plural. You’d never ask for naan “bread” because naan already means bread. If you ask for “naan bread,” you are asking for “bread bread.”

In India, naan is served warm, brushed with ghee. It is served with toppings, like an open-faced sandwich; dipped into soups; used to scoop food; or rolled with sweet or savory fillings (raisins and nuts, minced lamb). When Indian restaurants began to appear in the West in the 1970s, to emulate Western restaurants, all of which had a bread basket on the table, baskets of naan were set out with a variety of dips and condiments such as raita (yogurt and cucumber) and various chutneys.

Varieties Of Fabulous Flats Tandoori Naan

Fabulous Flats makes three flavors of naan. They are hand-stretched, baked in tandoori ovens and all-natural (no preservatives, fillers, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, etc.). They even use authentic ghee (clarified butter) instead of regular butter.

  • Original Naan is a classic, perfect for any occasion.
  • Garlic Naan is our favorite. There’s just the right amount of garlic in here to add excitement—no extra garlic butter needed! While we’d never thought of putting garlic butter on our breakfast toast, this is a magic ingredient with eggs at breakfast, and soups, salads and wraps anytime. Garlic does not break with tradition: In India, raisins and spices can be added to naan to pick up the flavor. Here, the garlic certainly works its magic.
  • Whole Wheat Naan was our least favorite flavor, because to us, whole wheat flavors work best in heartier breads and naan is so light and airy. However, we encourage everyone to get three servings of whole grains daily. Personally, we eat oatmeal and a whole wheat bagel. lf this will do it for you, go for it!
Whole Wheat Naan
Fabulous Flats’ Whole Wheat Tandoori Naan. You can tell naan doesn’t take easily to whole wheat flour—this bread wasn’t as pretty as the others. But the whole wheat is definitely better for you (read our article on whole grains).

You can heat naan:

  • On the middle rack of a 400°F preheated oven, for 2 to 3 minutes
  • On the stovetop in a nonstick frying pan, or on a preheated grill or barbecue, on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes; sprinkle lightly with water to rehydrate and turn once
  • In the microwave.

It should be spread with butter or quality olive oil and served immediately. You can hold off on the added fat; however, two tablespoons a day of olive oil is part of a heart-healthy diet, as approved by the USDA.

Serving Suggestions

Kebab
Kebabs are traditionally served with pita. But try them with naan instead. You can roll the meat and vegetables in the naan and use raita or plain yogurt as a dressing for your “naanwich.” Photo by Kelly Cline | IST.

Of course, serve naan with any Indian or Pac Rim meals that require bread. But this naan is so delicious, we’ve been eating it daily with our morning eggs, and with salads at lunch time instead of more prosaic choices. Think of it for:

  • Wrap sandwiches: Make a regular wrap with naan, or wrap kebabs in the naan, the way you would wrap them in a pita (kebabs came to India via the Muslim invasion—that’s the reason for the similarity in Northern Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines)
  • Open-face or regular sandwiches: Try tuna melts, grilled cheese and other favorites
  • Hors d’oeuvres: Fill warm naan with any thick filling, roll and slice into bite-size pieces
  • Dips: Cut the naan into diagonal strips, like pita strips, and serve them with hummus, raita, tzatziki or other yogurt dips
  • Salads: Cut into thin strips and toast for crunchy salad toppings
  • Crust: Brush with olive oil, place in a pie pan, top with filling (quiche, scrambled eggs, white pizza, pesto) and bake
  • Luncheon or dinner bread: Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with finely-chopped onion, cumin, coriander and turmeric (for color) and bake or grill until heated through.

Check out these naan sandwich recipes.

Uneaten naan can be frozen and defrosted/warmed in the microwave. Try it, and you may find a reason to make every day a naan event.

FABULOUS FLATS
Tandoori Naan in Garlic, Original and Whole Wheat

 

  • 8.8-Ounce Package
    Any Flavor
    $2.99

 

Available at fine food stores nationwide, or check website for store locator (or use contact form to ask for a retailer near you). Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.

FGFBrands.com

Fabulous Flats Naan

© Copyright 2005-2014 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. Images are copyright of their respective owners.

 



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