You love your Indian food, but can’t find any naan?
Luckily there are a few quick and easy-to-make Indian alternatives you can try for your next meal.
There are other familiar recipes you can use to replace the starchy naan bread found in Indian meals without sacrificing too much flavor. These naan substitutes will take your favorite Indian dishes from mediocre to mouthwatering in no time!
Try using roti, puri, tortillas, or pitas as perfect naan substitutes.
What is Special About Naan Bread?
This puffy, soft bread is a staple in Sri Lankan cuisine and parts of Southeast Asia.
Traditionally, it’s cooked in a clay oven but at extremely high temperatures giving a crispy bottom to the bread with a fluffy soft top.
While being a little saltier than regular bread, naan has a mild flavor that goes with just about anything.
A tandoor oven is basically a clay pot dug into the soil and fuelled with firewood. The internal temperature can reach around 900 degrees F! Naan are baked inside for around 30 seconds by sticking the dough to the inside wall.
The art of cooking naan in the tandoor or clay oven is giving it the perfect charred spots and edges. These strong spots of flavor combined with the milder interior make naan the best pairing with any dish whether spicy or deeply savory.
What Do You Eat With Naan?
Naan is designed to mop up all those lovely sauces in your favorite dishes, like curry.
They make great pizza crust substitutes.
You can even use them as a side for any course. They’re especially good alongside basmati rice.
How Is Naan Different from Indian Bread?
Naan is a type of Indian bread. In India, there are a wide variety of breads to choose from as each region has its own style and flavor.
There are over 30 varieties of Indian flatbreads!
Naan is 1 of the 12 most popular leavened and unleavened breads of the Indian subcontinent:
- South Indian roti
- South Indian pancakes
What Can I Replace Naan Bread With?
Roti, or chapati, is an excellent, healthier naan substitute. Rice may be the staple of south India, but roti is the staple of north India.
The main difference between roti and naan is that while naan is leavened bread, with yeast, roti is not.
This makes it an excellent option for those who can’t eat yeast. As a simple bread with flour, salt, and water, roti is a daily staple in Indian cuisine. Naan is usually reserved for special occasions, while roti is lighter and simpler for regular use.
This unleavened flatbread, also called poori, is made from whole wheat.
Puri is a common snack or side that accompanies savory and sweet dishes from the Indian subcontinent. Puri is a common side served with chana masala or chickpea curry.
If you’re a big fan of fried food, then puri is your naan replacement. Puri is cooked in hot oil rather than in a very hot oven and gets a crispy yet puffy texture.
Paratha is a whole wheat fry bread. This flatbread is fried in oil or ghee rather than placed in a clay oven.
This method of cooking gives it a flakier, chewy texture compared to naan, but still makes it a great naan substitute.
It’s not just the frying either. Paratha is rolled and folded several times before frying, very similar to the production of puff pastry. This extended prep makes for a denser flatbread.
Paratha is even served as a stand-alone dish rather than a side like naans.
Definitely not a traditional naan replacement, but handy nonetheless, tortillas are easy to find and easy to adapt to your favorite Indian recipes.
Tortillas are a great alternative to serve with some favorite classics like butter chicken or chicken tikka.
There’s no denying that the flavor and textures are vastly different. Tortillas are made with maize rather than flour and are unleavened.
If you’re looking for similar flavors and textures, you may want to look into one of the other excellent naan substitutes.
If you’re willing to try something different that will serve the same purpose, then give a tortilla a try.
Pita bread and naan are incredibly similar. Both of these leavened, wheat flatbreads are used as common sides with many dishes.
Naan usually has a softer texture compared to the drier and tougher texture of pitas, but they are a good naan substitute.
Pitas can be filled with your favorite meats, used to sop up your favorite curry, or serve as a pizza crust.
- Homemade Naan Bread
If you’re handy in the kitchen or would like to try your hand at something new, why not make your own naan bread?
The hardest part is waiting for the dough to rise!
Don’t worry, you don’t have to possess a clay oven to make your own naan bread. Make your own on the stovetop in your favorite skillet.
How Can I Make Naan at Home?
Making naan at home isn’t hard at all. To make it even easier, this recipe excludes the traditional yeast process. This cuts your time and makes it a great naan alternative for those who can’t eat yeast, but still want that fluffy flatbread.
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt
- Combine your dry ingredients in your mixing bowl.
- Heat your butter and milk in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat when the butter melts. Allow this mixture to cool slightly.
- In a separate bowl mix together the butter/milk mixture with your yogurt. Slowly stir this into your dry ingredients.
- Knead your dough on a lightly floured surface until it becomes smooth.
- Your dough must sit and ‘rest’ for 30 minutes covered in cling wrap.
- Once rested, divide your dough into 8 equal parts and roll each out into an oval shape. Make sure to flip your dough several times during the rolling process. Finished ovals should be around ⅛-inch thick and about 6×9 inches in size.
- Heat your skillet without any oil or butter over medium-high heat. These naans are cooked dry, when your naan has browned lightly on the bottom and bubbles begin to form on the top, it’s time to flip it over. About a minute later, it’s done.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is naan bread good for weight loss?
When it comes to weight loss, naan can be a good option. You’ll need to compare the fat and carbohydrate content with the rest of your macros.
Restaurant-made naan is commonly served with large quantities of garlic butter. If you didn’t make the naan yourself, you’ll want to eat it in moderation while on a weight loss diet.
If you want to include naan in your meal plan, try making it at home. Dry cooking your own naan helps you control the amount of added fats. You can also experiment with what flour you use.
What is the healthiest naan bread?
If you’re eating at an Indian restaurant the healthiest option would be to choose a plain naan.
While there are other options like garlic, or filled naans, plain naan is the easiest way to control the amount of fat and calories you’re ingesting outside of the typical bread.
The healthiest option isn’t always available. Whole wheat naans are the healthiest choice due to the added fiber. Added fiber slows digestion and therefore the glycemic index of the naan. With all the other added nutrients through whole wheat flour, these naans are the best choice.
What is the most popular Indian bread?
The most famous type of bread from India would be naan bread.
However, the most common bread in India are made of atta flour. This whole wheat flour is very finely ground and combined with salt, water, and sometimes ghee into a fine soft flatbread.
Rolled into small circles and stretched, this common bread in the north and central India is usually served with gravies and stews.
The most common names for it are Roti, Chapati, and Phulka.
Naan is a quick-bread that’s commonly made in India and other parts of the subcontinent.
Unlike other quick breads, naan has a yeast-based process of fermentation, which produces more flavor and a more tender texture.
It can be found in many Indian restaurants and even in some supermarkets. It’s a popular side dish with many dishes, especially as a bhuna-kachchi/bread topper.
If you’re up for a little challenge, try making it from scratch at home. It’s not very difficult and can be a fun weekend project for you and your family/friends.
While you don’t have to live without naan bread at home, you can still switch things up by using roti and some of the other excellent naan substitutes on this list.
Tiffany McCauley is a celebrated food and travel journalist and cookbook author known for her engaging stories on culinary adventures and cultural insights. With a background featuring collaborations with notable brands and publications, Tiffany brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to Fanatically Food, where she champions taste, sustainability, and the art of cooking. Read More Here