Burns Night: ‘Naan O’Shanter’ takes centre stage for eat-off

Ally Burns tucks into a haggis naan. Picture: Toby Williams
Ally Burns tucks into a haggis naan. Picture: Toby Williams
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IT is the quintessentially Scottish dish that inspired the Bard himself and is eaten all over the world in his honour every January.

But in a unique twist on the traditional Burns Night Supper, one Leith-based curry restaurant is preparing for Scotland’s first haggis naan-eating contest, entitled “Man v Naan”.

The combination of cheese, haggis and bread has the ability to trigger something in the Scottish DNA.

Spencer Barrie

The competition on January 25 will see will see six challengers stuff as much haggis and cheese-covered naan down their necks as possible in three minutes. The “Naan O’Shanter”, which combines the Burns Night staple with Indian flatbreads, is made using Campbells Haggis, Orkney cheddar, chillies and salt.

Cooked from fresh ingredients in three minutes in the tandoor oven, staff have insisted the creation is so good that Burns himself would have waxed lyrical about it.

Head chef Spencer Barrie, 37, said: “While Burns’s work is famous for [expressing] his love of women and whisky, there’s no doubt that haggis naan bread could easily have inspired poems like ‘To a Naan’ or ‘Naan O’Shanter’. The combination of cheese, haggis and bread has the ability to trigger something in the Scottish DNA but you’ll have to try our haggis naan to understand.”

His wife Maxine, who is the general manager, added: “The chefs came up with the idea and I kind of thought instead of the TV show Man v Food we could do Man v Naan. So we came up with the idea of a massive naan bread with haggis on it to incorporate Robert Burns. He is a local hero and may be we can find another local hero who can eat this massive haggis naan bread.

“I think Robbie Burns would find this absolutely fantastic. He would probably try it out himself and then make up a poem about it. The naan bread is absolutely delicious but it will take a lot to eat it in three minutes and the competitors probably won’t eat for a few days afterwards.”

Ally Burns, the reigning champion of VDeep’s “Hot Wing Challenge” will return to the restaurant in a bid to win this latest contest.

The 37-year-old from Abbeyhill – who is no relation of the Bard – said he would perfect his technique using naan breads from the supermarket.

Ally, who works as a website developer for Blonde Digital in Leith, said: “This is more about volume than spiciness, but I am a fast eater. When I finish up, my girlfriend’s still got most of her meal left.

“There might be some more serious contenders this time around because of the press attention but I’m going to give it my best. I am going to buy some naan bread from the supermarket and see how much I can eat.”

The competitor who has eaten the most naan bread after three minutes will win a dinner for three at the restaurant on Henderson Street.

Meanwhile, spectators can enjoy a three-course Indian Burns Supper featuring Neep Pakora, Haggis Naan and Chai Cranachan alongside a selection of curry house favourites.

An Address to the Naan – a homage to the Burns’s poem Address to a Haggis – and bagpiping will round of the evening in true Burns style.

The haggis naan started out as a meal for staff after they had tried every curry on the menu more than once and decided to experiment with different flavour combinations.

SEE ALSO

• Burns Night recipes, with a twist

• If haggis naan isn’t your thing, how about a haggis cocktail?

• Celebrate Burns Night ... with a Union Jack emoji?

john.connell@edinburghnews.com