Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen -- Naan's new popularity: Indian/Asian flatbread gains a wider audience

By JANINE GILBERTSON August 08. 2017 11:36PM
Naan makes a simple and delicious French toast. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

If you’re looking for an easy and versatile food item to keep on hand for a fast dinner or snack, you should give naan a try.

Naan is a flatbread popular in Central and South Asia. It’s made from simple ingredients like wheat flour and water and looks a little like pita bread. If you’ve dined at an Indian restaurant, chances are you were served naan with your meal.

I noticed naan in an article I came across listing food trends for 2017 and sure enough, I’ve noticed an expanding offering of brands and flavors of naan available in grocery stores.

The first time I bought a package to try, I didn’t bother to read the instructions because, well, it’s a flat bread, right? Wouldn’t you just open the package and eat it? 

No. It should be briefly heated in an oven, on a grill, griddle, microwave or any other method that will warm it up. This makes it tender and delicious, ready to use as a scoop for bites of food or topped with a little butter. You can warm it up and spread a little mashed banana and cinnamon on it for a quick breakfast too. Delicious.

Besides using naan as an accompaniment to a meal, it can be used in many other ways. One great way is to treat it like a pizza crust and spread a little sauce on it, then add cheese and toppings. It cooks up quickly and makes a great light meal. 

If you’re into breakfast for dinner, you can whip up a French-toast style batter and dip the naan into it, then cook it on a griddle or on the stove top like you would if you were making French toast and voila! Drizzle it with a little maple syrup (from New Hampshire, of course) or sprinkle it with some powdered sugar and you’re done.

Another great way to enjoy naan is to stuff it with filling as you would a pita — think ground beef or pork, seasoned and mixed with ricotta cheese and some fresh herbs and vegetables.

If you have some day-old naan hanging around that you need to use up, you can tear it up into pieces and use it like you would use day old bread for bread pudding. Simply spread the torn bits into a buttered baking dish, mix up an egg batter with vanilla, brown sugar and milk or cream and pop it into the oven to bake. 

You can also use up those leftover pieces by turning them into “naanchos”: Bake them in the oven until they are crispy and then top them with some salsa, cheese and a little sour cream.
Ten minutes in the oven is all it takes to create these naan pizzas. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Naan Pizza

2 pieces of garlic naan flatbread

1 1/2 cups pizza sauce, divided

4 oz package fresh mozzarella cheese

3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; place the naan on the baking sheet. 

Spread half the pizza sauce on each piece of naan, then dot with cheese. Set in an oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted. 

Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh basil before serving.

French Toast Style Naan

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tbsp butter

Maple syrup or powdered sugar, if desired, for serving

In a wide bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar. 

Place the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once skillet is hot and the butter melted, dip the naan into the batter, then set it in the skillet to cook. 

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then turn over and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with powdered sugar or syrup, if desired.


1 piece of naan

1/2 cup fresh salsa

1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped

2 tbsp red onion, chopped

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Sour cream for garnish

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Cut the naan into wedges (like you would a pizza) and arrange them on the baking sheet. Set the baking sheet in an oven preheated to 375 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes, until the naan becomes slightly crispy. 

Remove from oven and arrange the wedges into a pile, then spread with salsa, cheese and onion and pepper. 

Set an oven to broil and place the baking sheet under the broiler for about 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted. 

Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro and sour cream, if desired, before serving.


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