The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat naan. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What naan etiquette is

Naan etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat naan. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve naan to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat naan at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat naan

What you should know about naan

Naan is a traditional bread that is popular in Indian cuisine. It is typically made from a combination of flour, water, yeast, and sometimes yogurt, and then baked in a tandoor oven. Naan is a delicious and versatile bread that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a base for a variety of dishes.

Naan bread is usually round and flattened, with a slightly chewy texture and a charred exterior. It has a golden-brown color and a slightly nutty and tangy flavor, which is due to the use of yogurt in the dough. Naan can be plain or flavored with herbs and spices, or even stuffed with ingredients like cheese or vegetables.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat naan

1) How to store naan

Naan is best stored at room temperature in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 2-3 days. If you need to store it longer, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. When freezing, wrap each naan individually in plastic wrap or foil, then place them in a freezer-safe container. To reheat, thaw the naan in the refrigerator overnight, then warm it in the oven or on a skillet.

Sliced or cooked naan should be stored in the same manner as whole naan. They will last for up to 2-3 days in the pantry, 1 week in the fridge, and 3 months in the freezer.

Signs of bad naan include a stale or sour smell, mold growth, or an off taste. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to discard the naan.

2) How to clean naan

To clean naan, simply wipe any crumbs or debris off with a clean, damp cloth. Avoid using soap or any cleaning agents, as these can leave a residue and affect the flavor of the bread.

3) How to prepare & cook naan

Naan should always be cooked before eating. You can prepare naan using a traditional tandoor oven, but it can also be cooked on a skillet or grill. To prepare the dough, you will need a mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, and a rolling pin. Once the dough is ready, you can cook it on a skillet or grill using a spatula or tongs to flip it over as it cooks.

It is a versatile bread that can be used in a variety of dishes. It pairs well with curries, stews, and other spicy dishes, and can also be used to make sandwiches or served as a side with salads.

Naan can be enjoyed by people on a vegan or vegetarian diet, but it is not suitable for those following a keto or paleo diet due to its high carb content. Naan does not typically contain any common allergens, but it is important to check the ingredient list to be sure. There are no religious dietary restrictions that forbid eating naan.

4) How to serve & present naan

Naan can be served in a variety of settings, from casual to formal. It is often served as a side dish with meals, but can also be served as a main course or appetizer. It is suitable for breakfast, brunch, or as a snack.

To serve naan, it is best to heat it up slightly before serving to enhance its flavor and texture. It can be presented on a plate or in a basket lined with a cloth napkin. A pair of tongs or a bread basket is a good serving tool for naan.

Naan is a common accompaniment for Indian dishes such as curries, kebabs, and tandoori chicken. You can also serve it with dips like hummus or tzatziki, or use it as a base for flatbread pizzas. Common seasonings include garlic, cilantro, cumin, and yogurt.

5) Food and wine to pair naan with

Naan pairs well with vegetables like roasted eggplant, sautéed spinach, or grilled peppers. Fruits like mango, papaya, or pomegranate can add a sweet and tangy contrast to the savory naan. It is best to avoid pairing naan with fruits that are too tart or acidic, like citrus.

Cheese and dairy can be a great addition to naan. Paneer is a popular Indian cheese that is common in naan dishes, as well as feta or goat cheese. Yogurt or raita are also common pairings. It is best to avoid pairing naan with strong or pungent cheeses that can overpower the flavors of the bread.

Naan can pair with various types of meat such as lamb, mutton, chicken, or beef. Tandoori chicken is a classic pairing with naan. It is best to avoid pairing naan with meats that are too salty or fatty, as this can overpower the flavors of the bread. Naan can also accompany well fish and seafood.

6) How to eat naan

Traditionally, naan is eaten with the hands, tearing off small pieces and using them to scoop up food. It is polite to use the right hand for eating and avoid touching food with the left hand. You can eat the whole naan, including the edges.

Naan etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common naan etiquette mistakes:

  • 9/10. Using the left hand to handle food.
  • 8/10. Letting the naan become too soggy.
  • 8/10. Double-dipping.
  • 7/10. Not tearing off small enough pieces for easy scooping.

Additional information for properly serving naan

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

The number of calories in naan can vary depending on the recipe and serving size. One serving of naan can range from 100 to 350 calories, while 100 grams of naan contains around 300-350 calories. The exact calorie count will depend on the ingredients used in the recipe.

How to buy the best naan

A crucial factor in naan etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Naan is available year-round.

Choose the best

Naan is typically available fresh at Indian grocery stores or restaurants. You can also find it packaged in some grocery stores or online retailers.

Plain naan is the most popular variety of naan, but there are also variations like garlic naan, cheese naan, and keema naan (stuffed with minced meat). The most prized varieties of naan will depend on personal taste preferences.

When buying naan, look for bread that is soft and pliable with a slightly crispy exterior. The bread should be evenly cooked with no burnt spots. Good quality naan should also have a light and fluffy texture.

Alternatives to naan

Some common alternatives to naan include pita bread, tortillas, and roti. These types of flat bread are similar in texture and can be used as substitutes in many dishes.