Like all things in India, Indian cuisine even just it’s bread shows diversity and variety. You will be spoilt by choice when it comes to ordering Indian Breads to accompany your meal at any Indian restaurant and some times in just an average home. There is more to Indian breads than the usual chapatti, rotis and naans. Stuffed, puffed, steamed, fried and cooked over direct heat, discover what’s in the ‘Roti ki Tokri’ (Bread Basket) with the assorted Indian Breads on offer.
Chapatis are the most common everyday breads eaten in most households in India especially the North. Chapatis are flat unleavened round breads and can be eaten with almost any Indian dish. Made of a dough of finely ground whole wheat flour, water and salt they are very simple to make and are quick to make with practice. Sometimes called rotis, these chapattis are made when small balls of dough are rolled out thin and cooked on a griddle or a skillet. Eaten day after day, meal after meal you will never tire of this Indian bread once you have it.
Tandoori Roti/ Roti
A Roti is an unleavened flat bread usually round in shape. It’s cooked in a tandoor by sticking it to the side of the clay oven and is scooped out with a metal rod with a hook on the end. Traditionally made using whole wheat flour like chapattis, rotis are also made using refine white flour as well especially in restaurants.
Tandoori Naan/ Naan
Tandoori Naan is made in the same way as a tandoori roti but is leavened bread that is shaped oblong or triangular like ear-shaped. Naans are made out of white flour and usually leavened with yeast making it different from the Tandoori Roti. Mostly milk or yoghurt is used to give greater volume and thickness to the naan instead of plain water to make the dough. Typically, the naan is served hot and brushed with ghee or butter. Stuffed Naan is another variation of this Indian bread. The choice of stuffing can be anything from kheema (mince meat) to potatoes, paneer or even raisins or spices.
A paratha or parantha is a flat bread made from whole wheat flour like a roti but is most often stuffed with vegetables, especially boiled potatoes, radish or cauliflower or paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and pan fried in ghee or cooking oil. A parath can be eaten simply with a blob of butter spread on top or ghee (clarified butter), but it is best served with pickle and yoghurt, or thick spicy curries of meat and vegetables. They are a popular breakfast in North India.
Kulcha is again a North Indian bread made of white refined flour and instead of being stuffed like a paratha it is topped with spices, sesame seeds, onion or coriander (cilantro) among other things. They are cooked in the tandoor or an oven and smothered with butter or ghee (clarified butter) and served hot. Kulchas can also be stuffed and the only difference between a stuffed kulcha and paratha is that parathas are make of whole wheat dough and pan fried while kulchas are white flour and cooked in the tandoor.
Puris are deep fried unleavened breads served mostly for breakfast or as a snack or light meal. Made from the same dough of chapattis, when deep fried pooris puff up almost like a ball and turn a pale golden color. Puri is often served with halwa, potato masala, korma, chana masala or dal (lentil soup). A variant of the puri is the bhatoora which is three times a puri and a single bhatura served with chole (spicy chick peas), often constitutes a full meal called Chole Bhature.
A Dosa, more like a crepe is also considered an Indian Bread. It is very popular South Indian Dish and is made out of a lentil and rice fermented batter spread on a flat skillet or griddle into a thin circle and fried with oil or ghee until it turns a crisp golden brown. From an anytime snack of crisp paper thin wafers to a filling meal with wholesome stuffing, and served with chutneys and a dollop of butter, the dosa has become a favorite of most Indians and outsiders alike.
Appam is a bread more like a soft pancake made from toddy fermented rice batter, with a soft spongy middle, which is laced with crispy edges. Appams are generally eaten with either vegetable or chicken or mutton stew, thoroughly mellowed with thick coconut milk and garnished with curry leaves. A favorite in the South of India especially Kerala.