RAWALPINDI: The word naan typically conjures the image of a rich meal. But Naan Chaaye in Bahria Town instead offers a new take, with fresh, flavoured naan as a light snack to accompany a steaming cup of tea.
The eatery is a recent entry to the local food scene, and a welcome break from more traditional outlets.
At present, almost all hotels, restaurants and bakeries offer two kinds of naan - traditional naan and naan sprinkled with sesame seeds. Naan Chaaye, in comparison, offers naan filled with cheese, chicken, beef, mushrooms, vegetables and even chocolate.
Apart from naan and chai, the outlet also offers flavoured coffees to go with the many kinds of naan on the menu, including a hazelnut latte, hazelnut cappuccino and Nutella cappuccino.
As you sit at your table, waiting for your order, sweet smells waft in from the kitchen. “It’s a good experience to eat naan with tea, with so many different flavours. I used to just have paratha with tea but then I heard about the Mars on Flame naan here and that’s what attracted me,” Muhammad Ahsan, a customer at the restaurant, said.
He said the cheese naan and chocolate naan were unique. “I’m used to strong tea generally, but the masala tea here has a very unique taste because of the combination of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices,” he added.
Ahmad Malik, however, said the masala tea made him feel like he was drinking gravy because of all the spices. “I usually prefer the caramel tea, or something else,” he said. He said he also prefers the vegetable naan to meat-filled ones.
He said children were also attracted to the restaurant because of the variety of naans available, as well the many types of ice cream, from fried to traditional.
“The British brought tea to the subcontinent and it was served with biscuits and other baked goods. But naan with tea is part of the local culture, and most people are used to naan at breakfast or in the evenings,” Raja Imran said.
Wajih Ashfaq, the owner of Naan Chaaye, said he opened the restaurant because he wanted to present traditional food with a modern touch.
He said the restaurant offers 12 kinds of tea and over 35 flavours of naan. He said the flavours are local variations that were devised by him and the chef. He added that the restaurant is designed so that it is comfortable for individual customers as well as families and groups.
Originally published in Dawn, March 28th, 2016