The role that naan plays as a side dish to many dishes needs to be more appreciated. For instance, it’s excellent at absorbing and dispersing rich sauces, making them more enjoyable and not overwhelming to consume. They also contribute a subtle milky, buttery, and rustic taste that helps elevate the meal.
Usually, naan helps Indian and Asian dishes to shine. But with its introduction to Western cultures, many variants were made, like stuffed naan or naan pizza. But despite the fusions and evolutions, naan is still the best with its original pairings: Asian cuisine, specifically Indian delicacies. If you’re running out of ideas, read this article to discover what to eat with naan bread.
1. Chana Masala
Chana means chickpeas in Hindi; thus, chana masala is what you may know as chickpea curry. It primarily consists of tender, white chickpeas soaked in water and then cooked in rich and spicy onion and tomato gravy. However, you can adjust the spice level to your preferences. This bright and eye-catching dish is made with no meat or animal-derived products, so it’s vegan-friendly too!
2. Dal Makhani
While the chickpeas in chana masala need soaking, that time-consuming phase is avoided with dishes like dal makhani. That’s because, in India, dal is a term for legumes that don’t need to be soaked before cooking. There are many ways to prepare them. For instance, this dal makhani recipe uses black lentils, butter, cream, and spices, so the final dish is rich, buttery, creamy, sweet, and spicy.
3. Dal Tadka
Another dal recipe that’s great with naan is dal tadka, which uses split pigeon pea lentils and red lentils. Like dal makhani, it’s smoky, but such tastes are achieved through a unique manner: frying spices and herbs. Doing so better releases their aromas and flavors, so the depth and quality of this dish are intense. This recipe also teaches you two ways of making dal tadka: stovetop or instant pot.
The first few recipes featured thick, rich sauces, thereby doubling as a dip for naan. This bhindi masala may not look as saucy as theirs, but such allows the crisp and delicious okra to shine. That crunch is also an excellent contrast to the tender naan, providing you with exciting textures. Also, the flavor profile isn’t subpar – a combination of sweetness, tanginess, and warm spiciness.
India has an abundance of vegetable dishes, and one such recipe is veg kolhapuri, or spicy mixed vegetable curry. It has capsicums, onions, carrots, beans, green peas, and Kashmiri red chili cooked in a kolhapuri gravy made from scratch. This gravy consists of a medley of ingredients, from spices to cream. Even its kolhapuri masala, a spice mix, is homemade; thus, the flavor dimensions are almost unfathomable.
6. Palak Paneer
For most cuisines, cheese is the ingredient or flavoring rather than the star of the show. But the Indians beg to differ with their many paneer recipes, including this verdant-colored palak paneer or Indian cottage cheese in spinach gravy. Various spices and aromatics also go into this dish. Thus, it’s creamy, spicy, fragrant, and unique, so it’s undoubtedly a must-try with your naan.
7. Malai Kofta
If you’ve had meatballs in sauce, the concept of malai kofta is similar, but for a few differences. Firstly, instead of meat, this recipe combines potatoes, paneer or Indian cottage cheese, spices, herbs, and cornstarch to make kofta balls. Then the sauce is called kofta gravy, which has onions, cashews, poppy seeds, tomatoes, turmeric, and MANY other spices. Moreover, this dish isn’t served hot, so the koftas do not soften.
India, the land of curries, makes a curry nearly out of everything – veggies, chicken, beef, and more. Preparation and seasonings vary per region, and that of the south stands out for its inclusion of coconut milk. Curries typically have so many spices the heat can be intense. However, by adding coco milk, like in this recipe, a contrast is provided to tone down such flavors, making them more enjoyable.
So far, the recipes have been vegetarian, i.e., featuring no animal protein. But that doesn’t mean naan isn’t great with meats because this delicious chicken tikka masala would like to prove that wrong. Like many other Indian dishes, it has a thick, rich, and spicy sauce eagerly sopped up by naan. The marinated chicken pieces also have a fantastic flavor and are wonderfully tender.
Another highly recommended chicken dish to eat with naan is murgh makhani or more known as butter chicken. It’s a curry with butter or ghee in its sauce, hence the name. However, that amount is nominal compared to the tomato puree and cream that makes the sauce rich and thick. Moreover, the chicken pieces are marinated, so the spicy, savory, and tangy flavors penetrate the meat.
11. Chicken Korma
Chicken korma is a curry famous not just in India but also in Pakistan. However, unlike butter chicken, chicken korma has no marination – the chicken is in ghee or oil, along with some spices and aromatics. Then, a tomato and yogurt mixture is added to serve as a sauce base. That sauce is then flavored with a wide range of whole spices, a technique distinct to the chicken korma.
12. Tandoori Chicken
Compared to the dishes above, this tandoor chicken is dry – there’s no rich, sloppy sauce you can dig your naan into. However, the flavor of the marinated meat more than makes up for it. It’s tangy, spicy, and smoky, courtesy of traditional Indian spices. Moreover, the skin is crisp, while the meat is tender. To eat with naan, take the meat off the bone and wrap it with the bread.