Young and Hungry

Khurmi Naan: The Indian Take on Pizza

Over the years, I've sampled garlic naan, naan stuffed with goat cheese, kashmiri naan with nuts and raisins, and, of course, regular ol' naan blackened and blistered straight from the tandoor. But until I dined recently at Spice Xing, the new Rockville restaurant opened by Passage to India's Sudhir Seth, I had never tried khurmi naan.

It's naan covered with tomato sauce and sprinkled generously with shredded cheese. It is, in other words, pizza naan.

The naan fits into Seth's precise vision of Spice Xing, which features Indian dishes influenced by those European cultures that have had a presence on the Subcontinent, whether British, Portuguese, Spanish, or French.  But since the Italians never laid a colonial finger on India, the natives had to improvise their own version of the classic Neapolitan flatbread, which wasn't so easy in a country with few pizza or conventional gas/electric ovens.

Even tandoor ovens are hard to find in certain regions in India, Seth tells me. Sometimes eight or more families will share one communal tandoor, or some enterprising soul will open a tandoori shop, where the locals will bring their own homemade dough to bake in the blazing hot clay ovens. Likewise, Seth notes, the ingredients that usually go into khurmi naan — commercial ketchup and processed cheese — are not always widely available in India.

All of which is to say that khurmi naan is typically a restaurant item in India, not something made at home.

Seth's own version doesn't stray far from the original back in the home country. About 40 percent of the sauce slathered onto his naan comes straight out of a ketchup bottle; the rest is homemade, a reduced tomato sauce infused with cloves, peppercorns, and bay leaves. The hybrid sauce is then topped with two kinds of processed shredded cheese — cheddar and white cheddar.

So how is the naan? The sauce, which is ladled on thick, immediately creates a problem for those who like their naan (or their pizza, for that matter) to be both chewy and crispy; these slices go limp. The sauce itself is rather sweet, no doubt due to the large percentage of sugar-laden ketchup. The partially melted shredded cheese adds only a cold element of fat to the bread.

The naan sort of reminds me of those Totino's frozen pizzas from the 1970s, back before Wolfgang Puck and California Pizza Kitchen got into the freezer section of your local grocery store. I suspect that khurmi naan, in its own way, must hold a certain nostalgia for Indian immigrants in America. As for me, though, the flatbread's fascination is limited pretty much to its history, not its taste.

  • Paramdeep Singh Totla

    Berry tasty, goes well with royal stag

  • PDP

    Hi. Very tasty and yummy. Totally agree with Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla that it is Berry Tasty. I enjoy it my scotch.

  • Param

    Hi. The Khurmi Naan is really very tasty and yummy.

    I totally agree with PDP and Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla that it is Berry Tasty. However, I am tee totaller and hence enjoy it with a Coke.

  • Raman Gill

    Hi. Yes, Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla.. The Khurmi Naan is really very tasty and yummy.

    Nice choice.

  • Gill

    Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla.. The Khurmi Naan is an amazing find and is really very tasty and yummy.

    Nice choice and thank you for sharing.

  • TEJA

    Mr. Paramdeep Singh.. The Khurmi Naan is an amazing find and is really very tasty and yummy.

    Nice choice and thank you for sharing.

    Teja

  • PCS

    Hi. Yes, Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla.. Nice Khurmi Naan

    PCS

  • Rajesh

    Had this at an indian resturant at Hyderabad Airport. Yes, Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla, Khurmi Naan is nice.

    Rajesh

  • Sehdev

    Dear Tim,

    Hi. This is a nice take on the very Italian Pizza and is a great find.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Sehdev

  • Randeep Gill

    Tim, Hi. The Khurmi Naan is a good copy of the very Italian Pizza andthank you for sharing this.

    Randeep Gill

  • Sandeep Sehdev

    The Khurmi Naan is nice.. Tasty cheddar cheese on top.. Sandeep Sehdev

  • Saavn Kumar

    Tim,

    Hi. This is a nice take on the Italian Pizza and many restaurants are serving this in India now. Thank you for sharing this and picking up a trend.

    Saavn Kumar

  • PCS

    Hi. Agree with Mr. Tim and Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla. Very nice Khurmi Naan.

    Thanks for sharing.

    PCS

  • Gill

    Tim,

    Like the comparison with the Italian Pizza.

    Had this at a restaurant in Hyderabad Airport along with a well cooked Korma.

    Gill

  • Sandhu

    Agree with Mr. Tim and Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla. Very nice Khurmi Naan.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Sandhu

  • Saavn

    Hi. Agree with Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla. Very nice Khurmi Naan.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Saavn Nath

  • Rajiv

    Hi. Tim Carman's Khurmi Naan is a great find. The Indian Take on Pizza is yummy and as suggested by Paramdeep Singh Totla, Saavn and Sandhu, it is really yummy and goes well with drinks.

    Rajiv

  • Teja

    Hi. Agree with Mr. Tim Carman who has got a great Indian find and has reported it in Washington City Paper. And cheers to Mr. Paramdeep Singh Totla on guiding us for the same.

    Very nice Khurmi Naan.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Teja

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