Naans and doodhpatti at the dhaba

December 21, 2015


These hot toasted flatbreads are best had when they are fresh out of the tandoor. — Photos by Mahhah Qayyum
These hot toasted flatbreads are best had when they are fresh out of the tandoor. — Photos by Mahhah Qayyum

ISLAMABAD: Given the Capital Development Authority’s propensity to raze all roadside cafes and dhabas in Islamabad, there is hardly any place left where one can sit in the open and enjoy a hot meal with a piping cup of doodh patti.

Naan Stop does not only promise such an environment, it takes it to the next level with its mouth-watering menu. This establishment is a part of a new wave of entrepreneurial food ventures that have cropped up around the capital. Here, as the name suggests, the speciality on offer is naans.

A staple of the Pakistani diet, these piping hot toasted flatbreads are best had when they are fresh out of the tandoor. Many a youth have been tempted to sample a morsel or two while fetching naan for the family dinner.

A new roadside café in F-10 offers a very filling take on the traditional flatbread

Walking in, the first thing that strikes you is the establishment’s penchant for truck art. Everything from the walls to the decorative lanterns and tea kettles, is in the traditional truck art style.

Located on Sumbal Road in F-10 Markaz, the shop’s corner location leaves ample room for patrons to sit on the roadside and enjoy their food oven fresh.

But the naan at Naan Stop are not the everyday, run-of-the-mill flatbreads that are available from your corner tandoor.

The menu includes a vast variety of naans; cheese, jalapeño, chicken, achari, garlic, and the pleasantly surprising Nutella naan. The prices range between Rs150-Rs250 apiece, which sounds quite steep.

But as the owner Usama Farooq explains, “Customers were initially sceptical about the price, but once they see how filling our naans were, they told us that the price was perfectly fine.”

“We are still in the beta-testing phase; we will be officially launching on Jan 1, that’s when we will be launching more products, such as a pizza naan.”

One of the most popular items at this outlet is the cheese naan, which ooze stringy cheese as soon as you dig in. Be warned, there is no way to eat these naan without losing a little dignity; a small price to pay for the assault on your taste buds that will ensue.

There are also two other variants of the cheese naan: the garlic cheese naan and the chicken cheese naan.

However, since the garlic is a little overpowering, better to steering clear of this one if one is not a fan of garlic.

The achari naan, though it sounds promising, is actually rather disappointing except for those fond of eating sada roti with achaar.

However, the taste of pickle is rather sour and overwhelming.

No visit to Naan Stop can be complete without sampling the Nutella naan. Even if you do not have much of a sweet-tooth, you would want to grab a slice of this naan which has melting hot Nutella dripping from the seams, making it a good way to end a wholesome meal.

Of course, every naan must be married with a steaming hot cup of doodh-patti, and this is the place to come to if you are a connoisseur.

It is served in a cute little kettle that’s painted like a truck that you’d see on G.T. Road.

Saad Rehman, a resident of F-10, told Dawn: “I come here for the cheese naan. Earlier, we would have to go all the way to Monal to get a good cheese naan.”

For Rabia Khalid, this place is a way of reclaiming public spaces for women. “With all the hype about the #GirlsatDhabas campaign, I think this place makes it easier for girls to just sit on the road side and enjoy the dhaba environment without fear of harassment.”

“I have brought my nieces and nephews here, while my sister is out shopping in the markaz,” said Zuhair Ahmed, who had placed an order for Nutella naans.

“I’ve been here many times, but what I have noticed lately is they are somewhat understaffed. The orders take too long to prepare and it’s hard to wait 40 minutes for naan in this cold weather!”

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2015