Naan bread and pita bread are often confused, and you might be wondering whether one could stand in for the other. They have a lot in common with each other, being flat, rounded, and very tasty breads, but they certainly aren’t the same thing.
Some of the key differences between naan breads and pita breads include the flavor, the ingredients, and the nutritional values of the two. Pita breads are thought to be around 1,500 years older than naan breads, having originated in the Eastern Mediterranean about 4,000 years ago. Naan breads evolved in India about 2,500 years ago.
Differences between Naan and Pita
Both Naan and Pita bread have their unique qualities and can be enjoyed with a variety of dishes, depending on personal taste and culinary preferences.
There are many differences betwen naan and pita bread so let’s learn a bit about how they differ.
|Oval or teardrop shaped
|More rounded and hollow inside
|More ingredients, often stuffed with various fillings
|Basic ingredients without stuffing
|Rich, creamy flavor with various flavorings
|Plain and mild, intended to be paired with other foods
|Baked in a tandoor oven or on grills/baking stones
|Baked in a standard oven and puff up significantly
|Higher in fat and calories, good source of vitamin B, niacin, and iron
|Lower in calories and fat, but less protein and fiber
|Originated in India, popular in South and West Asia, and across the Caribbean
|Originated in the Middle East, popular in Eastern Mediterranean countries
|Soft, tender, and moist
|Chewy, robust, and denser
|Paired with curries and Indian dishes
|Served with hummus, tzatziki, salads, falafel, and more
|Higher in calories and fats
|Lower in calories and fats, considered healthier option
|Subjective, personal preference
|Subjective, personal preference
Although both breads are rounded and flat, if you set them side by side, you will see that they are quite different in terms of their shape. Naan breads are usually oval or teardrop shaped, and can be quite rustic – often not a very perfect curve. The inside of the bread is not hollow, and although it has lots of air pockets, it can’t be used as a pouch for other foods.
Pita breads are more rounded and uniform, and the insides are hollow. If you cut into a pita bread, you’ll be able to open it up and fill it with other ingredients, somewhat like a sandwich. Pita breads are often smaller than naan breads, too.
Pita breads are made with fewer ingredients than naan breads, even if you compare them with a plain naan. Pita breads only require:
- White flour
- Wholemeal flour
Some pita breads will contain other ingredients too, but these are the basics. By contrast, naan breads will usually be made of:
They also frequently have onion seeds, eggs, and spices included in the dough, and they may be brushed with ghee. It’s common for naan breads to be stuffed with things like garlic, paneer, sweetened coconut, or ground meat.
As you would expect, the two breads have quite different flavors. Naan tends to have a rich, somewhat creamy flavor (depending on the ingredients), and pita breads are very plain. They are usually intended to be paired with other ingredients, and on their own, they don’t taste particularly good.
Both kinds of breads are usually eaten alongside other flavorful meals – such as naan breads being paired with curries, and pita breads with things like hummus, baba ganoush, and tabouleh. However, when eaten alone, naan is generally considered a more enjoyable food, especially if it has been stuffed with garlic or ground meat.
Overall, both breads are pretty mild and don’t have bold flavors of their own, which is why they tend to accompany rich meals.
The two are made in somewhat different ways, as well. Both breads are mixed, kneaded, and then left to rise, before being shaped, but the baking method is different. Naan will usually be cooked in a special kind of oven called a tandoor, which is traditionally made of clay or metal. These ovens can be heated up to around 480 degrees.
Naans can also be cooked on grills or baking stones, which helps if you want to cook a naan at home and don’t have access to this kind of oven.
By contrast, pita breads are usually baked in a hot – but standard – oven. They are cooked at a very high heat, and they puff up significantly. When they have been cooked, they are left to cool, and the puffiness flattens into the shape you’re likely to be familiar with.
5. Nutritional Value
Because naan breads and pita breads have quite different ingredients, their nutritional value is fairly different too. Naan bread is higher in both fat and calories, but it’s a good source of vitamin B, niacin, and iron.
Of course, the nutritional value of naan bread does vary depending on the ingredients that are used. It can be an excellent source of protein if it contains ground meat, for example.
Pita bread is much lower in calories and fat, so it can be preferable if you’re on a diet. However, it’s also lower in protein, and contains slightly less fiber than naan. Both breads are fairly high in carbohydrates and need to be paired with other things in order to make up a balanced diet.
Naan and pita bread come from very different places, with naan having originated in India. It is commonly found in South and West Asia, and across the Caribbean. By contrast, pita bread originated in the Middle East, and it’s popular across Eastern Mediterranean countries.
Both breads are eaten in many parts of the world now, but they are still generally paired with their traditional cuisines. Pita bread is probably more widely used because it is more versatile, but both are popular.
As you would expect, the two breads have quite different textures. Pita breads are chewy and robust, while a naan bread is generally soft, easy to tear, and thicker. Naan tends to be particularly fluffy, and pita bread is denser.
On the whole, a naan bread will also be moister and more tender than a pita bread. If you dislike chewy foods, you’ll find naan vastly preferable to pita bread.
This is partly because of the different ways in which the breads are cooked, but naan bread’s inclusion of ingredients like yogurt also helps to give it a more tender texture. Pita, by contrast, is drier and stronger – reflecting the fact that it was intended to be stuffed with moist ingredients.
What Is The Difference Between Naan And Pita In Taste?
If you’ve ever eaten the two side by side, you’ll be aware that naan and pita don’t taste the same at all, and they can’t really be used as substitutes for each other.
Naan generally has a creamy flavor, and often a crusty, caramelized edge that makes it particularly delicious. If extra flavorings such as onion seeds, meat, garlic, coconut, etc., have been used, it will taste significantly different from pita bread.
Pita bread does not have much flavor by itself; it’s really just like eating plain bread. It has a slightly floury taste and although it’s still enjoyable, it isn’t very exciting to eat without good fillings. The flip side of this is that it’s more versatile, and its blandness means it can be paired with many different foods.
See Also: Catsup vs Ketchup: The Difference
Which Is Easiest To Make Between Naan And Pita?
Pita bread is generally easier to make from scratch than naan, for two reasons. One is that naan bread requires more ingredients, and the other is that to make proper naan bread, you need a specialized oven.
Pita bread only requires some very basic ingredients. This might be because it’s a much older recipe, from a time when people probably didn’t have as much variety, and just wanted a basic food that would fill them up.
Many people make pita breads at home using simple recipes. It is possible to make naans, but it’s difficult to make them taste as good as the real thing!
What Food To Serve With Naan Bread
Naan is generally served with traditional Indian foods, such as stews and curries. You might have naan bread with Balti and Madras, because it provides a soft, chewy aspect to the meal, and helps to mop up any excess sauce. Naan is designed to soak up the flavors.
You may also get naan bread with certain rice dishes, and with things like samosas, raita, and chutney. Naan is rarely served with other dishes, and has remained a key component of Indian cuisine.
What Food To Serve With Pita Bread
Pita bread is a much more versatile option, and can be served with a wide range of different foods. It is traditional to eat it with things like hummus, but tzatziki is another great option, and many people put it alongside a chicken caesar salad.
Another option is tabouli, or as a sandwich-like way of serving falafel and helping all the ingredients stay together. Alternatively, you could try pita bread alongside grilled vegetables, including things like bell peppers, zucchini, and broccoli.
Because pita has a plain flavor, it can be eaten with a wide range of different foods, and you can get as creative and experimental as you like! Many people use pita as an alternative to bread, and fill it with sandwich toppings, or even create mini pizzas with it.
What Is Healthier, Naan Or Pita Bread?
Pita is generally considered a healthier option than naan, because it uses only basic ingredients and it’s much lower in carbohydrates and fats. It’s low in sugar, too, which many people are trying to cut back on.
That means that you can use pita bread to replace naan bread in meals if you want to, although you should be aware that it isn’t the same, and it will not taste quite as nice. However, despite its chewier and drier texture, it can still be used to soak up juices and maximize the flavor of meals like curry.
Naan Vs Pita: Which One Do I Prefer?
Different people have different preferences when it comes to naan and pita bread. If you have never tried either, it’s worth getting them fresh and hot from a proper restaurant, rather than trying store-bought options.
Restaurant options are much more likely to give you a good representation of the food, and will help you decide which tastes better to you. I personally am partial to the softness of naan breads, but I love pitas with crispy salad and falafel, so they’ve both got a place in my heart!
You might be wondering how best to eat both of these breads.
On the whole, if you’re looking to create sandwich-like meals or enjoy dips, pita bread will be a better option. It’s robust enough to cut open and use to wrap other ingredients, and the inside is hollow, so you can stuff things into it. Sliced pita can be used to scoop up hummus and other dips.
Naan is too soft for this sort of use, and it isn’t hollow inside. It works well when it comes to soaking up sauces, but it’s floppy and tears easily, so it won’t work for creating a sandwich, and it’s a bit too messy for dipping. Use it with meals like curries for the best results.
Should they be eaten hot or cold?
Both breads can be eaten cold, but both are much better when warm and fresh. They will have a lighter, more tender texture.
Are these breads ever eaten with sweet foods?
It’s unusual to eat either naan bread or pita bread with dessert, but you might decide to try it. Naan bread’s creaminess and softness may work with some desserts.
Which is an older recipe?
It’s thought that pita breads predate naan breads by over 1,000 years, and the simplicity of the recipe indicates that they’ve probably been around for a long time!
As you can see, naan and pita breads may have some similarities, but there are also plenty of differences between the two. They are made differently and eaten differently, and come from different parts of the world. Most people enjoy both of them!