Nuts. Nachos. Nectarines. Food that starts with the letter N is all around us! Let’s dive in—
The List: 46 Foods that Start with N
Naan bread is a leavened flatbread that is an ancient food popular enough to make it to the modern age. It was originally served in Persia and continues to be a staple of Indian, Indonesian, and Burmese cuisine. The warm flatbread is often dipped in curries and other sauces.
Nachos have a fascinating backstory. A chef in Mexico had to make some quick food for visiting American military wives. His name was Ignacio Anaya, and after he whipped up the dish of fried tortillas topped with taco ingredients, he named his new creation after himself.
Nacho has long been the nickname given to men named Ignacio. It’s the Mexican equivalent of ‘Bill’ for ‘William.’
3. Naem Khluk
Naem khluk is a fermented pork dish from Thailand. It has a unique texture since the meat is mixed with sticky rice before the fermenting process. Naem sausage is the main ingredient in pork salad, incorporating fish sauce and lime juice. The naem khluk mixture is often served on lettuce leaves or with cut cucumbers, to help deliver the dish to your mouth.
Nagasari is a sweet, steamed cake originating from Indonesia. It has common baked food ingredients: bananas, flour, vanilla, and sugar. What makes Nagasaki stand out is the way it’s cooked. The thick dessert batter is spread on banana leaves and steamed until the mixture solidifies into one piece.
The nageia tree is also called the “Asian Bayberry.” However, the fruit of the tree isn’t edible. Instead, the seeds are where the good stuff comes from. When harvested, they produce a seed oil good for cooking. When young, the leaves are also used in dishes, much like grape leaves.
6. Nashi Pear
The nashi pear is often referred to as the ‘Asian pear.’ It’s different from other pears as they have the crisp skin and texture of an apple but taste like a sugary, ripe pear. They are perfect for baking until crisp, and pair well with cardamom.
Namasu is originally a Chinese dish brought to Japan in the seventh century. It consists of thinly sliced carrots and other raw vegetables mixed with fish or fresh seafood. The mixture is soaked in vinegar for hours until slightly pickled. The dish is an everyday staple in Japanese monasteries where the monks eat the meatless version.
8. Nam Phrik Ong
Nam phrik ong is a dish from Northern Thailand. It’s a meat-based, spicy, salty, and sweet relish. Nam phrik ong roughly translates to pork and tomato chile mixture. Other foods like cucumbers, Chinese cabbage, sticky rice, and eggplant are dipped into the relish.
The traditional way of preparing the spices is to grind the chiles, garlic, and shrimp paste with a mortar and pestle.
9. Nam Tok Mu
Like the dish listed above, nam tok mu hails from Thailand (where “nam” means “pork sausage”). This is a cold salad meal, often served with sticky rice. Fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice, fundamental Thai flavors, give the dish much of its zing. Fresh mint is added toward the end of the cooking process and provides the dish with a bright taste.
This is a Japanese dish cooked at home and served in restaurants throughout the Japanese islands. It’s typically made with salmon that has been marinated and fried. Even though the meat is fried, the dish itself is normally served cold.
11. Nan Gyi Thohk
Nan gyi thohk is a noodle-based Burmese salad. Its flavor comes from the chicken curry and spicy chili oil mixed with the round noodles. The fresh, spicy flavor is topped off with the zest of lemon, giving the whole dish a tart finish.
The dish is from central Burma, which is particularly warm and dry. This environment has given way to the prolific growing and harvesting of nuts, represented in the salad. It is made with peanut oil and toasted chickpea flour.
Nannyberry is a common fruit that grows on bushes in North America. Its flavor is that of a hybrid plum and banana. Nannyberries have inedible seeds and the easiest way to separate the sweet flesh from the seed is to cook the berry.
Nantua is a thick cream-based sauce from the French city with the same name. It is made to pair with seafood, so the flavor comes from the inclusion of crayfish in the sauce making process.
Like all other bechamel sauces, the base of the gravy is cream, flour, and butter. The sauce is often used on top of quenelles or soft fish dumplings.
14. Napa Cabbage
Napa cabbage, aka “Chinese cabbage,” has a sweeter, milder flavor in comparison to other types of cabbage. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is used in stir fry dishes for that pop of freshness. Several people also boil it, using it and other veggies for a soup.
The naranjilla has a lot in common with the pomegranate in that its outer skin isn’t edible, and its flesh is bitter. Because of this, the naranjilla, which is orange on the outside but green in the center, tends to be sliced down the middle and slurped out. In South American countries, naranjilla is often called “lulo.”
16. Nasi Kuning
Nasi kuning is an Indonesian rice dish with a distinct color that is often eaten for breakfast. The golden gleam of the rice makes it a perfect dish to serve on holidays since the color represents wealth and prosperity. This lucky color is imparted to the rice by turmeric, and the rice can be cooked in a thousand different ways.
People make it on the stove, in pressure cookers and in rice cookers. There are even recipes for the Instant Pot and Ninja.
17. Nasi Lemak
Nasi lemak is a Malay dish made thick and creamy with coconut milk. The dish itself refers to the sticky, rich rice combination, though it all depends on what type of food is served with it. Traditionally, people eat Nasi Lemak with anchovies, cucumbers, eggs, and fried meats.
Nasturtium is a flowering plant on which both the leaves and red petaled flowers are edible. These two parts are often eaten in salads and are known to have a peppery flavor. Especially savvy chefs have infused their vinegars with nasturtium, adding another flavor note to the sour pantry essential.
What makes nasturtium a super supplement is its dense antiseptic properties. If ground into a thick paste, nasturtium leaves can be used to treat wounds and fungal infections on nails.
If eaten or drunk in hot water, the scent released by the leaves can help with uncomfortable inflammation of the lungs. Think of it like edible Vapor Rub.
19. Nata de Coco
Nata de Coco translates to “coconut cream,” although that can be a bit misleading. The product is a gel, not a dairy-based cream, and comes into being by fermenting coconut milk or water. Once it is solid, the gel is pressed and cut into cubes. These are sweet and traditionally blended into several South Asian desserts and drinks.
Nataing is a Cambodian pork-based dish. It has a unique red hue, imparted by the addition of paprika and chili powder. Both spices give the dish a bit of bite, but the inclusion of sugar mellows out the heat. Nataing is a scoopable, spreadable mixture, often served with rice cakes or bread.
21. Natal Orange
The natal orange is quite interesting in that the flesh of the fruit is edible, but the inner seeds are toxic. The soft part of the fruit is sweet and ripens from a grassy green color to yellow. The fruit is indigenous to Africa, and, in Nigeria, a minority group known as the Tiv people use it for medicinal cocktails.
One use of the natal orange in Africa is for treating venomous snake bites. The plant is particularly suited for this because of the unripe fruit’s high levels of strychnine, a stimulant that effects the central nervous system. This is especially helpful to counteract the constriction of the respiratory system caused by snake venom like the mamba’s.
While those of us residing in the west don’t typically think of beans as a breakfast food, that’s how natto is served in Japan. Natto is a fermented whole bean product that some have claimed tastes like a cross between salty cheese and bacon. The fermented beans clump together in a sort of self-made sauce and are typically served over rice.
This is a French dish that typically incorporates turnips or “navet” in French. It’s a stewed meat dish, primarily prepared with lamb, and is thought to be as old as French civilization. It’s a slow cooked meat with easily available spring vegetables that can be cooked over nearly any heat source.
The navette is a uniquely shaped French cookie. It has simple ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, flower, and its signature orange blossom.
The cookie comes from Provence and has a wonderful legend behind it. They have a special relationship to Mary Magdalene and the somewhat regional belief that she fled to France after the events of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
Ndole comes from Cameroon and is a dip made primarily from spinach. However, many families add shrimp and beef to punch up the dish. Like chips and salsa, ndole is a get-together must-have and is often served with plantains. The dish itself can be time-consuming to make, as there are several steps in the prep process.
26. Neapolitan Pizza
Neapolitan pizza is different from other pizza styles in two ways. The first is a crust that is quite thin in the center but puffs up around the perimeter, making it light and crispy. The second is the cheese. Neapolitan pizza still relies on mozzarella, but this mozzarella tends to come from buffalo milk.
The nectarine has an interesting origin story. They developed naturally, in China, by mutation due to good ol’ mother nature. This happened early in the anno domini years.
Speaking genetically, it is the same as its parent peach except for one crucial trait, peaches have that famous fuzz, whereas nectarines are smooth. Nectarines have taken a page from pineapple’s book and are often cooked in upside-down cakes.
Nectarines make great snacks. This is because they clock in under a hundred calories but provide the body with plenty of dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium. They also gel well with low carb diets since a medium sized fruit has around 15 grams of simple carbs.
Neem is a leafy tree that is bitter in flavor. It can be boiled into a tea or ground into a bright green paste. Several claims have been made about neem’s medicinal benefits, from healing skin lesions to calming a nervous digestive system. The jury is still out on whether these tree compounds have any real scientific basis.
Beef negimaki has been described colloquially as “meat sushi.” The dish consists of cooked scallions wrapped with shaved steak, which have been marinated in nearly anything to impart different flavors. Many chefs infuse the marinade with teriyaki, giving the rolls that classic Japanese flavor.
Negus is a drink served in Ethiopia. The spiced drink is meant to be enjoyed hot and is a bit like the spiced wine you can find around the holidays. Making negus involves mixing wine, water, sugar, and citrus fruit like lemon or orange. Star anise and cinnamon can be used as a garnish and for extra zest.
31. Nepali Hog Plum
This shockingly sour fruit also goes by lapsi. The fruit mainly grows in Nepal and Bhutan, making it a specialty item. After harvesting, the Nepali hog plum is used to make candies, is pickled as a sour condiment, and baked into sweet/sour tarts.
Nesselrode is a dessert that had its heyday in the 1940s. Some make it into a pie, while others go the pie route. It’s made primarily of chestnut custard (which makes it decadently creamy) and cherries soaked in rum. The dessert gets its name not from the chef who created it but from who it was made for, a Russian count.
Ngari is fermented fish specifically from the Manipur region of India where families eat it daily. It’s the bedrock to that culture as salt and pepper are to western cooking. This is ironic since ngari itself is not salted. It is simply sun dried and exposed to open air until it achieves the correct color.
Ngome is a simple flatbread that hails from Mali. It is meant to be a carrier of flavors but not flavorful itself. This is because the only ingredients in ngome are vegetable oil and millet combined in water. The bread itself has a remarkable shelf life, especially compared to yeast-based, rising loaves of bread.
Nguri is a cheese, specifically made from buffalo’s milk in Fujian, China. The overall flavor profile of the leathery cheese is salty, making it the perfect companion for rice congee. Nguri is one of three kinds of cheese made in China; despite the overwhelming number of the Chinese population who are lactose intolerant.
36. Nicoise Salad
This salad gets its name from the city of Nice in France. It incorporates lettuce, boiled eggs, and frequently tuna and anchovies, tomatoes, black olives, anchovies, and garlic. While those based out of the US don’t typically consider potatoes to be salad ingredients, potatoes are often served in nicoise salad.
Nigella seeds are tiny, tear-shaped black seeds often used as a garnish in Middle Eastern and Asian dishes. When ground into a spice, nigella seeds taste like toasted onions. They have minimal aroma and were originally discovered in King Tut’s tomb. They are rumored to have healing and preservative qualities and are also known as “black cumin.”
This is a heavy dish, much akin to a winter stew in western countries. It’s primarily potatoes and meat, though onions and pea pods are sometimes used. The slow-cooked meal is seasoned with soy sauce and mirin, giving it sweet and savory notes.
Nikuman are Japanese steamed pork buns and are often considered a filling winter snack. The meat inside the buns is flavored with scallion and shitake mushrooms. In the western areas of Japan, Nikuman goes by the name “Buta Man.” These fluffy, chewy buns are a customary snack on Bonfire Night.
Noni is a fruit that tends to be green and lumpy. It is not a sweet fruit and calling it “odorous” is gentle. The smell has been compared to stinky cheese, but Polynesian people have been juicing the flesh and using it in holistic medicine for hundreds of years.
Nopalito gets its name from the nopales that are its primary ingredient. Nopal is the name given to the edible prickly pear cactus. The texture of fresh nopal is similar to okra and tends to be crunchy and slimy. This can be lessened by buying the product canned or bottled. Its citrusy flavor pairs well with the tomatoes and onions in nopalito.
Nori is the dark green wrapping on the outside of sushi. At least, that’s how most people have sampled it. It’s made from a specific seaweed, dried, and formed into flat sheets. It’s the main ingredient in onigiri, known in English-speaking countries as “rice balls”.
Since it comes from the sea, many claim it tastes like seafood. It can also be toasted, roasted, or infused into salt mixtures.
43. Norman Tart
A norman tart is a French shortbread apple dessert. It gets its name from the distinctive custard that gives the pie its rich flavor and luxurious taste in the mouth. Like many complex French dishes, the prep time for making a norman tart is long, and the baking time is usually around an hour.
Nougat is a frequent addition to desserts, although it’s delicious eaten on its own. Nougat is a nut and sugar combination processed into a paste. This candy bar mainstay was initially created in the Mediterranean when the ancients combined honey, nuts, and beaten egg whites. The mixture was left out to sun-dry and eaten when brittle.
Nutella is a spreadable blend of hazelnut and chocolate. It was first made in Italy and is now a global product that’s been fully embraced in places like the United States. Nutella can be served on toast, flavor icings for cakes, and even appear in hot drinks. There’s a day for you if you’re a fan: World Nutella Day, celebrated on February the fifth.
If you hear the word “nutmeg” and immediately think of the fall season and everything pumpkin-spiced, there’s a reason. In the leadup to autumn baking, nutmeg sales soar. It’s in all those beloved seasonal staples: brown sugar maple cookies, apple cake, spiced banana bread, and even cider.
Nutmeg is made from the seed of an evergreen tree, Myristica fragrans. The same tree gives us another spice, mace.
Nutmeg is what we get after drying the seed from a fruit of a nutmeg tree. Eventually, the nut portion can be harvested from the dried husk of the fruit, giving us nutmeg.
However, before the seed is dried, its outer membrane is processed. This outer covering is where mace comes from. Mace has a lot of holistic medicinal uses. Stomach ailments are a popular target for mace’s anti-bloating effects. Those with digestive issues or oral diseases are encouraged to incorporate mace into their daily diets.