An important component of Indian cuisine is flatbread. You simply cannot have an Indian meal without it. Indian flatbread is the perfect thing for soaking up all the delicious curries and sauces Indian cuisine is so famous for. There are more than 30 types of Indian flatbreads that vary from one region to the next. That can sound daunting if you are not terribly familiar with Indian food or have not cooked it much, if ever. If you are interested in learning how to make Indian flatbread, these 5 easy flatbreads are the best way to start.
If you are familiar with any Indian flatbread, it is probably Naan. It is one of the more common Indian flatbreads. Naan is a soft, leavened flatbread that uses yeast and all-purpose flour. It is cooked until it has puffed up a little and is slightly charred. Traditionally, this Indian flatbread is made in a tandoor, a specially designed cylindrical clay oven (that is also now often found made of metal). However, naan can be easily made at home without this specialized oven.
This simple naan recipe combines sugar, water, yeast, flour, yogurt, salt, and oil. The key to good naan is giving the yeast time to do its work and letting the dough rise. It should double in size before you divide it and roll it out.
If you own an Instant Pot, you can use the yogurt function to create a proofing drawer to encourage your yeast to grow and get the perfect environment for your dough to rise. Just grease the pot, place the dough inside, and cover it with a wet cloth so it does not dry out. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and set it to yogurt mode on normal heat for one hour or until your dough has doubled in size.
Once your dough is rolled out, cook it in a heated skillet until it puffs up and blisters. Flip it over once burned spots appear and repeat on the other side. When it is done, brush it with butter or ghee and sprinkle it with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley. Eat it by itself or serve it alongside a dal, curry, or tikka masala.
Roti is another common Indian flatbread. It is an everyday staple in many Indian households, especially in northern India. It is sort of the equivalent of serving bread with dinner. Roti is an unleavened Indian flatbread made with two ingredients – whole wheat flour and water. It is also known in other parts of India by other names such as chapati or rotli. Depending on the recipe and where in India it is from, the cooking method is sometimes a little different and the bread may have differences in thickness but the flatbread is quite similar.
There are a few tricky things about making roti. First, you need to add the water little by little until you get the right dough consistency. Depending on the flour, you may need slightly more or slightly less than what the recipe calls for. The dough needs to be nice and soft, so sometimes you have to add more water or flour as you start to knead to get it just right. Once you start rolling out the roti, it needs to be rolled evenly, which can be tricky.
This roti recipe is absolutely legit. Read through the step-by-step instructions and tips before jumping down to the actual recipe at the bottom. It will make your life much easier by explaining the process in an easy-to-understand format. Get the best result by cooking your roti on a tawa or a flat skillet that is similar to what you would use to cook a crepe or tortilla. It may take a few batches before you get the hang of it and this Indian flatbread turns out right but once it does you will not be able to get enough of it.
Another unleavened Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour, paratha is flaky and wonderfully chewy. It is made using a similar technique as is used to make puff pastry that results in a deliciously crisp flatbread. There are two types of paratha – plain and stuffed. Plain parathas are made by making a soft wheat flour dough that is rolled out and covered with ghee before being folded several times and then cooked on a griddle. They are sometimes seasoned with spices. Stuffed parathas are made by stuffing the dough with vegetables, eggs, or meat during the rolling out and folding process.
Plain parathas are easy to make. Do not let the sound of layering and folding scare you away from this Indian flatbread. Simply start with flour, water, salt, and oil to make a dough and knead it until it is soft and pliable. After letting the dough rest and dividing it, roll out each piece of dough and spread them with ghee before starting the layering process of folding and spreading ghee on the dough. You can either make square or triangle parthas, depending on which folding technique you prefer.
Once your dough is ready, cook it in a hot griddle and drizzle ghee or oil on them to finish. This yummy Indian flatbread pairs perfectly with a curry or stir fry, but is also wonderful spread with chutney, yogurt, or jam.
READ MORE: All Things Ghee
Kulcha is a slightly leavened Indian flatbread typical of Punjabi cuisine from northern India. It can be made in a tandoor or on a tawa or griddle and is made with all-purpose flour. Kulcha does not use yeast for the leavening, so you do not have to worry about that finicky ingredient. Instead, it uses yogurt, baking powder, and baking soda to do the heavy lifting.
This kulcha recipe is so easy to make. Mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix until the dough starts to come together. Knead until a soft, smooth dough forms, and then let it rest for two hours. Roll out the dough and cook it on a hot griddle until golden spots form. This Indian flatbread can simply be served warm because it is so soft and yummy.
Once you get the hang of it and if you are a little more adventurous, try a stuffed version of kulcha made with potato filling.
Bhakri is an unleavened Indian flatbread typical of Maharashtrian cuisine from the southern part of India. It is cooked on a hot tava and typically uses jowar flour, which may or may be readily available in your area. If you cannot find it online or at a local Indian market, its next best substitute is sorghum flour. Since that is also not a common flour you always find in the grocery store, other substitutes include tapioca flour, rice flour, chickpea flour, or buckwheat flour, but keep in mind that your bhakri might not come out quite the same if you are using a substitute flour.
Unique flour aside, everything else about this recipe is simple. Start by making a stiff dough of flour and water. Knead it well. Make small dough balls and with wet hands, pat the dough into a thick, flat disk. Place the discs on a hot griddle and sprinkle the dough with sesame seeds. When the bottom of the dough turns crispy brown, turn it over and cook the other side. Finish your Indian flatbread with a drizzle or spread of ghee.
Indian flatbread is delicious. Some of it seems a little complicated at first. Anytime there is a recipe that involves yeast or layering and folding things a certain way, it can seem daunting but these recipes are so straightforward and have such easy-to-follow directions that you will be a master of Indian flatbread in no time!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 15 Easy Plant-based Recipes for Beginners
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