6 Indian Breads You Need To Try
One thing we know for certain is that curries don’t belong on their own.
The unique vibrancy of the Indian dinner table demands a variety of side dishes, pickles and breads to complete the aesthetic and aromatic experience we know and love.
Indian breads like parathas, rotis and naans play a crucial role in a shared culinary tradition and without them we would be bereaved of savouring leftover sauce and of course, the all-important dipping.
From breakfast to dinner, these breads are prepared with as great a passion as anything else at the table and although they look simple enough, in reality they require plenty of affection and expertise to master.
We have listed our six best Indian breads served at our Sanskruti Restaurants, bringing together culinary history, ingredients and dish pairings so next time you can make the best choice.
1) Fulka (Phulka) Roti, Chapati and Tandoori Roti
Roti is a very traditional, wholemeal Indian flatbread. Roti is usually in 3 varieties all made with wheat flour, oil and water (roti literally meaning bread) and often fulka, chapati and tandoori roti are used interchangeably – but there is a difference. Let’s look at the difference below.
Fulka or Phulka : – Fulka means ‘the one that puffs up’. First the fulka is cooked on tava (concave shaped griddle) for a few seconds on both sides and then it’s cooked directly on the flame – that’s when it puffs up into a balloon shape.
When in direct contact with fire the steam traps in between the two layers; it puffs up, and they say if your fulka doesn’t puff up then you are not a good cook! Fulkas are very thin and smaller in diameter – it’s a real art to make them.
Chapati : – Chapatis are also made on tava, it is a bit wider in diameter and thicker than the fulka roti. The major difference is that a chapati is cooked solely on tava and no direct fire is needed, thus it may not puff up in the same manner as fulka.
Tandoori Roti : – The name gives it away, tandoori roti are almost the same size as a chapati but it’s made in Tandoor. Tandoor is a very traditional bell-shaped oven of the Indian subcontinent, made up of clay where the temperature is maintained between 300 to 500 degrees Celsius.
Roti is made in every part of India but it is a staple food in the North and goes well with any curry or dal. At Sanskruti we only have the fulka and the tandoori roti. Our rotis are made using the original ingredients of flour, water and oil.
2) Methi Thepla
Vegan flatbreads don’t get much better than a classic methi thepla recipe. This soft and healthy bread surpasses anything you could buy at your local supermarket and is carefully crafted from wheat flour, salt, turmeric, ginger, garlic and fresh fenugreek leaves.
As a very popular Gujarati dish, Indians enjoy methi thepla pretty much anytime of the day and often serve it alongside sukhi bhaji (a dry potatoes curry), fresh yogurt, pickle or chutney for an utterly splendid finish.
It is known by different names in different regions of India like parotta, porotta, barotta, parantha, and parotha, but they are all the same.
The uniqueness of this bread is that it has layers, a minimum of two layers can be cooked on the tava or tandoor. There are two famous types; a lachha paratha and a stuffed paratha. The lachha means multi layered and making it is a real art.
The stuffed paratha is the bread stuffed with something, so if the paratha is stuffed with aloo (potatoes) it becomes aloo paratha and if stuffed with mooli (white radish), mooli paratha. At Sanskruti we make lachha paratha and stuffed (aloo) paratha. Multi-layering is a classic technique when it comes to sub-continental baking, creating a texture that is crispy and flaky yet soft in the mouth.
Whilst supermarket breads use a range of additives and flavorings, both the lachha and stuffed spicy potato flatbreads are made from hearty whole wheat flour, making for a more wholesome and much healthier option to accompany your curry.
4) Puran Poli
You might have known only peshawari naan as the only sweet bread in Indian cuisine but here’s a classic sweet bread famous in India.
Puran poli or pori is a sweet bread. It is famous in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and many other states and made slightly differently in each region. The common ingredients to make puran poli are lentils, sugar/jaggery and cardamom powder.
It is cooked on the tava and ‘puran’, which is the sweet filling premade and stuffed in the roti before it’s rolled. Puran poli is often prepared during festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali as a sweet Indian flatbread, though most families would find any excuse of some sort or make it just to impress the guests.
5) The Gluten Free Breads of India : Bajra, Juwar and Makki Roti
As they say the trends repeat themselves, and more nutritionists and dieticians now recommend one should include more gluten free food in our daily diets.
Again, it is known differently like bajra and juwar rotlo in Gujarat, bajrichi and jwarichi bhakri in Maharashtra and most of the other places as roti.
The Millet Story
Not only in India but throughout Asia and Africa, millet was consumed heavily in the past. It has a 7000 year old history according to Wikipedia. Evidence of millet use can be found in India, China, Korea, Japan and even ancient Greece dating back thousands of years.
Millet has different varieties such as pearl millet (bajra), kodo millet, finger millet (ragi), sorghum millet (juwar), foxtail millet etc. All of these varieties are naturally gluten free. Each of these millet grains have different nutritional values, some have more iron, some are rich in potassium and phosphorus and some rich in calcium etc.
Indian Gluten free Breads
Traditionally bajra (pearl millet), juwar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet) and makki (maize flour or cornmeal) are still used in India today to make breads.
The best way to make these breads is by tapping on the dough ball rather than using the rolling pin. The only ingredients in our gluten free breads at Sanskruti Restaurant are flour, hot water and salt.
These traditional flatbreads are deliciously gluten free, Indians tend to prepare bajra/jowar during the winter months due to the bread’s rich mineral and iron content and frequently combine it with jaggery and hot garlic chutney to complete the dish.
Easily recognizable as thicker than other flatbreads, our chefs use only hand crafting methods to bring you a delightfully healthy alternative to our wheat-based breads.
6) Naan bread
Quite possibly saving the best and most popular bread to last – naan bread a very well-known to British curry houses and is the most typical Indian side dish that goes with pretty much any curry on the menu.
Generally, naan bread is made using eggs and milk but at our vegan restaurants we opt for self-raising flour, oil, water and salt to create our own unique version of the classic.
Boasting a range of personalized options, you can make your own naan by choosing from garlic, chilli, coriander, cheese or sesame seeds to suit your taste buds or combine three of them create a unique naan of your own. And for the those with sweet tooth the peshwari naan made with coconuts and raisins.