If you have ever tried any Indian food in Vancouver, chances are you have mopped up gravies of Indian cuisine with a folded wedge of Naan.
Like other food items of Indian cuisine, even the bread traditions vary along a North-south axis. The astounding diversity of India’s breads reflect a long history of trade and invasion of culture as well as culinary amalgamation.
Here’s a rundown of the different types of traditional Indian breads that will keep you craving for more right away:
Roti is the most basic flatbread served with different subzis as a pairing. Made out of a well-knead dough using ingredients like wheat flour, water and salt, rolled into round shapes and cooked on a utensil called Tawa. The Roti itself does not possess any flavor in particular as it is supposed to be eaten with lentils, dry vegetable subzis, and meat salads.
Paratha is another well-known flatbread of Indian kitchens that hails natively from North-India. North-Indians take pride in indulging in ghee poured parathas. Ghee is considered to be healthier than edible oil. Parathas are layered and hence fluffier than Rotis, which makes it thicker than Roti. Parathas can also be stuffed with vegetables or spices like aloo parathas made with potato filling and that they can be eaten with solely pickle and yogurt as well.
A rare leavened bread in the Indian cuisine is Naan. This flour-based bread isn’t made round like its companions; it can be shaped in any way, even triangles. The texture of Naan makes it a perfect accompaniment to runny dishes like paneer tikka masala and butter chicken. Occasionally, naans are also flavored with garlic or black pepper for an extra kick.
Bhatura is another fermented Indian bread type like Naan, it is kneaded instead of rolled out and made thick. Bhaturas, for a change, are deep-fried and made crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Bhatura is often served with chana masala making one of the most loved North-Indian dishes called chole-bhature. You will often find bhaturas leading on the menus of restaurants serving authentic Indian food.
Theplas are native to the western part of India; the Gujaratis make theplas out of fenugreek leaves and wheat flour. Methi (fenugreek) leaves are directly mixed into the flour while kneading dough. Theplas are sweetened a little by adding some jaggery, adding to the Gujarati flavour. These scrumptious theplas turn out to be thick and slightly crispy after being cooked, so they also make a filling snack and often served with a pickle on the side.
Bhakri is a Maharashtrian flatbread which also rolled into a round shape like most flatbreads of Indian cuisine. However, it is made with gluten-free millet flour instead of wheat flour. Bhakris tend to be drier and crispier than basic Rotis, which makes it a great pairing of Dals and amtis.
Rumali roti is an unleavened bread that is traditionally made in the Awadhi, Mughlai and Hyderabadi cuisine. It’s often eaten with tandoori dishes like chicken. Rumali roti is named after the handkerchief (Rumal) since it is as thin as a handkerchief and folded into a rectangle like one.
Puran Poli is a sweetened Maharashtrian flatbread stuffed with sweet lentil filling that is made from husked split Bengal gram, jaggery, cardamom, nutmeg and saffron. Rolled thin and cooked on a griddle with a lot of ghee to turn it into a golden brown, aromatic and flavorful flatbread.
Shrimal or Sheermal is mildly sweet Naan made with saffron-infused milk. It is a specialty in the city of Lucknow. This flatbread traditionally came to India due to the invasion of Irans in the country. The lanes of Lucknow bazaars today have sheermal vendors stacking orange rounds of bread around open tandoors.
A deep-fried, yeast-free flatbread made of maida flour originating from the Bengal region. Luchi is rolled out with a few drops of oil added for the perfect consistency, which is not too thin or thick. It is also popular in the states of Assam, Odisha, Bihar, Tripura and West Bengal. They notably accompany aloo dum or kosha mongsho.
So that was a whole landscape of both famous and lesser-known yet equally well-loved flat breads of traditional Indian food. The country’s rich bread traditions are diverse in itself, and its vast assortment reflects its diversity.
Try these handy and delicious accompaniments paired with popular lip-smacking Indian dishes at Sula Indian Restaurant.