Why Is My Garlic Naan Bread Green? Exploring the Science Behind the Color Change

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Naan bread has become a popular dish in many parts of the world, especially among lovers of Indian food. It is a delicious bread with a fluffy texture and is often used as an accompaniment to curry or other meals. One aspect of naan bread that has been a topic of concern for many people is its tendency to change color, especially garlic naan bread, which turns green. In this article, we will explore the science behind this color change and everything you need to know about garlic naan bread.

The History of Naan Bread and Its Various Types

Naan bread originated in Central Asia and the Middle East, and has been a staple food in India since the early 15th century. It is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, which is a cylindrical clay oven. Naan comes in different types – plain naan, garlic naan, butter naan, and many more.

Naan bread has become increasingly popular in Western countries, and is now commonly found in many restaurants and grocery stores. In recent years, there has been a rise in the popularity of fusion cuisine, which has led to the creation of new types of naan bread, such as cheese naan and pizza naan.

Despite its popularity, naan bread has faced some criticism for its high calorie and carbohydrate content. However, many people still enjoy it as a delicious and versatile accompaniment to a variety of dishes, such as curries, kebabs, and dips.

What Causes Garlic Naan Bread to Turn Green?

Garlic naan bread turns green due to a chemical reaction between the garlic and the baking soda in the bread. When garlic is chopped, crushed or minced, it releases an enzyme called alliinase, which interacts with amino acids in the dough. This interaction produces a compound called allicin, which is responsible for the color change. Allicin reacts with the baking soda in the dough and turns the bread green.

However, the green color of garlic naan bread is not harmful to consume. It is simply a result of the chemical reaction and does not affect the taste or texture of the bread. In fact, some people find the green color to be visually appealing and a sign of the freshness of the garlic used in the bread.

To prevent garlic naan bread from turning green, some recipes suggest using baking powder instead of baking soda, as it does not react with allicin. Others recommend adding lemon juice or vinegar to the dough, as the acid can neutralize the reaction between the garlic and baking soda. However, these methods may alter the taste and texture of the bread, so it is important to experiment and find the method that works best for your recipe.

The Role of Yeast in Color Change of Garlic Naan Bread

Yeast also plays a role in the color change of garlic naan bread. When yeast is added to the dough, it produces carbon dioxide, which causes the dough to rise. The carbon dioxide also reacts with the allicin in the garlic, producing a green pigment.

In addition to the role of yeast in color change, the type of flour used in the dough can also affect the final color of garlic naan bread. Whole wheat flour, for example, can produce a darker, more brownish color compared to white flour.

Furthermore, the temperature at which the bread is baked can also impact its color. Baking at a higher temperature can result in a darker, more golden color, while baking at a lower temperature can produce a lighter, more pale color.

How Different Ingredients Affect the Color of Naan Bread

Garlic is not the only ingredient that can affect the color of naan bread. Turmeric, for instance, is a common spice used in Indian cuisine and can give naan bread a yellow color. Other ingredients that can affect the color of naan bread include saffron, beetroot, and spinach.

Saffron is a spice that is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It has a distinct yellow-orange color and can be used to give naan bread a vibrant hue. However, saffron is also one of the most expensive spices in the world, so it is not commonly used in everyday cooking.

Beetroot and spinach are two vegetables that can also be used to add color to naan bread. Beetroot has a deep red color and can be used to create a pinkish-red hue in the bread. Spinach, on the other hand, has a bright green color and can be used to create a greenish tint in the bread. These vegetables not only add color but also provide additional nutrients to the bread.

Understanding the Chemical Reaction Behind the Green Hue in Garlic Naan Bread

The chemical reaction responsible for the green hue in garlic naan bread is known as the Maillard reaction. This reaction occurs when amino acids and reducing sugars are heated in the presence of moisture. The reaction produces a brown color, but in the case of garlic naan bread, the baking soda plays a role in altering the color to green.

The amount of baking soda used in the recipe can also affect the intensity of the green color. Too much baking soda can result in a darker, almost neon green color, while too little may not produce any noticeable color change. Additionally, the pH level of the dough can also impact the color. A more alkaline dough, achieved by adding more baking soda or using a higher pH water, can result in a greener color.

The Nutritional Value of Green Garlic Naan Bread

Garlic naan bread is a good source of carbohydrates, with an average of 20 grams per serving. It also contains protein and fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. However, the color change caused by the chemical reaction does not affect the nutritional value of the bread, so it is safe to consume.

Green garlic naan bread is a variation of traditional garlic naan bread, made by adding fresh green garlic to the dough. Green garlic is a good source of antioxidants and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes green garlic naan bread not only delicious but also a healthier option compared to regular garlic naan bread.

Tips for Properly Storing Garlic Naan Bread to Prevent Color Changes

If you want to store garlic naan bread in your fridge and prevent it from changing color, wrap it in a damp paper towel and reheat it in the oven or microwave when you want to eat it. This will help to prevent it from drying out and prevent further color change.

Another tip for storing garlic naan bread is to place it in an airtight container or a plastic bag with a zipper seal. This will help to keep the bread fresh and prevent it from absorbing any odors from other foods in the fridge.

It’s also important to note that garlic naan bread can be frozen for longer storage. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then place it in a freezer-safe container or bag. When you’re ready to eat it, thaw it in the fridge overnight and then reheat it in the oven or microwave.

How to Make Garlic Naan Bread That Stays White

If you prefer your garlic naan bread to stay white, there is a simple solution. Instead of using baking soda, use baking powder. Baking powder does not react with the garlic, so the bread will not turn green. However, note that this will affect the texture and taste of the bread, as baking soda is responsible for making it fluffier.

Another tip to keep your garlic naan bread white is to use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. Garlic powder contains sulfites, which can react with the baking soda and turn the bread green. Fresh garlic does not contain sulfites, so it is a safer option if you want to avoid discoloration.

Additionally, you can try adding a bit of lemon juice to the dough mixture. The acidity in the lemon juice can help prevent the garlic from reacting with the baking soda and turning the bread green. However, be careful not to add too much lemon juice, as it can also affect the taste of the bread.

Exploring Other Foods That Change Color Due to Chemical Reactions

Naan bread is not the only food that changes color due to chemical reactions. Other foods that exhibit this phenomenon include apples, potatoes, bananas, and avocados. These foods can turn brown when exposed to air due to a reaction between oxygen and enzymes.

The Cultural Significance of Naan Bread in Indian Cuisine

Naan bread is an integral part of Indian cuisine and is served with a variety of dishes, including curries and kebabs. It is a symbol of Indian culture and heritage and is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.


In conclusion, garlic naan bread turns green due to a chemical reaction between the garlic and baking soda. Yeast and other ingredients can also affect the color of naan bread. While the color change may be a concern for some people, it does not affect the nutritional value of the bread, and there are ways to prevent it from happening. Naan bread holds cultural significance in Indian cuisine and is a delicious addition to any meal.