Naan: Making Indian Food Wonderfully ApproachableSeptember 19, 2016
The Middle East, though in the same continent, has always moved to a different beat when it came to food. Because instead of bodies of land surrounded by the Pacific, they have sprawling mountains and an arid climate. So, approaching their food may have thrown some of us off. To someone so used to fish sauce and soy prevailing the flavor profiles of their food, a bowl of curry seems like an alien creature that can be too overwhelming. And though Indian food has always had its place in the concrete jungle that is Manila, our knowledge of Indian flavors has always been to the extent curry. Naan, a modern Indian naan bar, attempts to bring the flavors of India by making it so wonderfully approachable—by making it look like a taco.
Though not intentional, the move to serve small naans instead of one large one came from a place of convenience and pragmatism. With their customers finding it quite a task to take in the larger version of the dish. They moved to make it smaller, more manageable, and it was just a coincidence that it ended up looking like the famous Mexican street food.
The small flat bread is piled up with a piece of protein and a number of condiments that add a considerable amount of dimension and texture to the dish. And though the flavors are different, the overall appeal is the same—it’s colorful, flavorful, and fits in your hand.
Fully displaying the wonderful nuances of Indian cuisine, each wrap features a myriad of flavors and textures that make for a very fulfilling meal. From their pulled pork, a slow-cooked pork shoulder that is topped off with tamarind chutney, pork rind, pickled onion, and cilantro. Sultry and vibrant, the tartness from the chutney and acid from the onions providing a serene balance to the fatty pork.
This balance holds true with their other flavors, the Chicken Tika which features mango chutney and sev (chickpea noodles,) is wonderfully spicy and bright. While the Beef Brisket Masala, served with green chutney, yogurt, and potato strings contains a charming depth and a bright finish. The same sense of equilibrium also runs through their Puri Crisps, (a dish that they will be serving up soon) a deep-fried flat bread filled with spiced potatoes and green peas, then served with yogurt, tamarind chutney and sev, using the heavily spiced potatoes as the backdrop and contrasting it with the toppings. Each dish an intelligent use of Indian flavors in a modern angle.
Naan serves a piece of modern Indian cookery that is both innovative and traditional. Still loyal to the flavors of the cuisine, but served with a different perspective. It’s a small step in modernizing how we look at Indian cuisine, but it’s one we’re more than ready to take.
A modern Indian naan bar strives for innovation while staying loyal to tradition and makes Indian cuisine approachable.