HYDERABAD: It was a dish synonymous with the common Hyderabadi’s palate for the last two centuries -- soft baked maida with an earthen smell of the tandoor, best accompanied with gracious servings of lamb chops and rich gravy. Any wonder then that 150 years on, the makers of Mughal Naan continue to do brisk business.
Their new age patrons who make this possible come from all walks of life - businessmen, corporates and the ubiquitous tourists of Charminar-all eager to buy the naan in bulk. And lined up in a row along the Purani Haveli Road, the shops from where these naans come alive have undergone very little interior changes, even as the exteriors spot bright display boards, calling attention to the recipe being prepared inside.
“My forefathers had set up shop first near the Charminar Chowk around 200 years ago. But we shifted to this lane some 150 years ago. We are the sixth generation of naan makers in our family,” says Abbas whose Abbasi Naan Shop spots the byline ‘Heritage Shop’ outside.
A day in the life of these naan makers starts at six in the morning or much earlier, depending on the order for the day and goes up to nine at night. “A major part of our sales is through orders for corporates, or marriage functions. So work timing is irregular, though on an average we work for 2-3 hours at a stretch before taking a break of equal duration,” he explains.
Each of the half-a-dozen shops here sell close to 3000 naan every day, of which the square variety costing `8 per piece is the favourite among buyers. That’s equal to a cool `24,000 in sales per day, for the staff comprising four workers who handle the tandoor, two men for packaging and two family members who help oversee the delivery and tandoor. “We also have five other different shapes such as star, heart, flower etc. The rate depends on which shape the customer prefers,” chips in a worker at the nearby Hussaini Naan Shop. The tandoor, which occupies place of pride at these shops, can accommodate 42 rotis at any given point of time, and according to Abbas, “It takes just 3-4 minutes for one batch to be made.”
The Mughal roti is made with maida, oil and a dash of salt, and the recipe has passed on without change over years. Ask them the reason for the same and the response is as heritage as the naan itself, “We haven’t improvised or brought in our own additions yet. Our customers want us to retain the authentic taste of the naan. And we give them just that.”