The Everyday Life of a Naan Seller

I love watching the naan sellers in our city.  Theirs is not an easy job.  As the ovens are always outdoors;  in the winter, they freeze, and in the summer it is doubly difficult, as not only is the weather hot, but they have the heat of the oven to contend with as well.  They stand in front of their oven all day long, on their feet, making naan, over and over and over again.  But it is interesting to watch!

There are actually two people involved in the process of making the naan.  You will notice that the ovens are always beside a building of some sort.  Inside that building is where they make the dough, form the naan into round shapes, and stamp it with the design that makes the naan beautiful as well as delicious.  After they are finished with it inside, they pass it through a small window to the baker outside.  I don’t think I have ever seen a woman naan baker.  Sometimes the dough makers (inside) are women, but the ones who bake the bread outside are always men.

After the baker has the bread, he takes the dough and dips it into a “secret sauce”.  This is unique to every naan seller, and varies according to the type of naan being made as well.  It can be sesame seeds, onions, spices or a combination thereof.  Every naan sellers’ naan and “sauce” is slightly different.  The size of the naan also can vary widely…from itty-bitty cookie size up to the gigantic rounds that you see here.  They can also vary from very thin, almost pancake-like, to thick, loaf-like types.  Whatever kind of naan you want, you can probably find it!

Here he is dipping the dough into the “secret sauce” mixture.

After this, he takes the dough and places it on the domed towel covered mold beside him. The purpose of the mold is to form the dough into the slightly domed shape that is the same as the inside of the oven and it is also the tool that is used to get the naan into the oven.

At this point, he gently shapes it and sprinkles it with water (from the bowl in front of the mold) and gently rubs the water over the surface of the naan.

He then lifts the entire mold, with the naan stuck to its surface…

and swiftly stamps it onto the inner wall of the oven.   It looks like this:

There it will stay as the baker begins work on the next piece of dough.

He keeps an eye on it, and when it is done, he grabs his two long prongs, stabs the naan, and whirls it out of the oven onto the pile of steaming, fresh naan waiting to be sold.

After this, you can’t help but buy one and eat it as you walk away…warm, fragrant, crisp on the edges, soft in the middle…perfect!

3 comments on “The Everyday Life of a Naan Seller

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