IN THIS week's edition of the Keighley News I will be outlining the recipe for the famous, and enduringly popular British Indian restaurant staple – garlic naan.

In a previous column I explained the recipe for plain naan, but following a request from one of my regular customers I decided I wanted to delve into what makes a great garlic naan.

The naan is one of the most common flat breads served with South Asian food. It is particularly well known as an accompaniment for food from the northern areas of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and some surrounding regions.

Globally and historically, naan bread comes in a huge variety of combinations. We at Shimla Spice like to reflect this diversity by offering customers many different combinations such as the plain naan, garlic naan, chili naan, mushroom naan, peshwari naan (which comes with sultans and almonds) and keema naan (which contains mince meat).

Although the naan originates in India it is today eaten in most types of South Asian restaurants and in homes around the globe.

It has been transformed from a relatively humble, basic form of bread into a dazzling range of experimental creations by chefs and food enthusiasts, who have tried out many different fillings and flavours.

The first recorded history of naan can be found in the notes of the Indo-Persian poet Amir Kushrau in 1300 AD.

Naan was originally cooked at the Imperial Court in Delhi as naan-e-tunuk (light bread) and naan-e-tanuri (cooked in a tandoor oven). During the Mughal era in India from around 1526, naan, accompanied by keema or kebab, was a popular breakfast food for members of the Mughal royal family.

As far back as 1926, overlooking the hustle and bustle of London's Regent Street, Veeraswamy, Britain’s oldest Indian restaurant is known to have served naan to its customers.

Founded in 1984, Honeytop Speciality Foods became the first company in Europe to supply authentic naan bread on a commercial scale to major retailers and restaurants. They introduced the first 13 week shelf-life flatbread.

The most familiar and readily available varieties of naan in Western countries are the South Asian versions.

Naan is cooked in a tandoor, from which tandoori cooking takes its name. This distinguishes it from roti, which is usually cooked on a flat or slightly concave iron griddle called a tava.

Typically, naan will be served hot and brushed with ghee or butter. It can be used to scoop other foods, or served stuffed with a filling.

The Pakistani dish of balti is usually eaten with a naan, and this has given rise to the huge karack or table naan, easy to share amongst large groups.

Raisins and spices can be added to the bread to add to the flavour. Naan can also be covered with, or serve as a wrap for, various toppings of meat, vegetables, or cheeses. This version is sometimes prepared as fast food. It can also be dipped into such soups as dal, and goes well with sabzis.