Indian bread is as diverse as the country they belong to; some are leavened others are unleavened; some are slapped between the palms and other are ladled out onto a tawa (a flat skillet that is typically made out of cast iron) and spread so the edges are lacy and the flatbread itself begins to take on a crisp, papery quality. Some are steamed in special pans that are placed in a pressure cooker, and others are rolled, spread with ghee or oil, and then folded and rolled again, much like how puff pastry is made. Like that pastry, these breads are flaky and delicious and perfect to pair with thick rich gravies.
There are over forty types of Indian breads that are baked, fried, or steamed across the length and breadth of India, and many of these are then adapted and made according to regional specifications, with a different set of flours being used, or another method of making them employed. But no matter what the differences, Indian breads share one thing in common: they are all delicious, and they all pair wonderfully with chutneys, gravies, and are sometimes eaten as a dessert, with either jaggery or a combination of sugar and ghee.
Every region boasts of its local breads; flatbreads are the most common, but in some parts, leavened breads are popular as well. It is impossible to cover every type of Indian bread in this article, but I hope to do justice to some of the popular types of bread.
It has a wide range of breads which are available in different parts of India. These are some popular breads.
Chapati / Roti
Chapatis are also known as rotis and are part of the everyday diet of many Indians across the country and around the world. It is made from flour, water, and salt. This unleavened flatbread is also known by the name roti marked by its amazing ability to puff up like a balloon. It is cooked on a tawa which is a flat skillet. It can be eaten with any sort of gravy.
Parathas are one of the most popular Indian flatbreads and can either be made plain or stuffed with a vegetable stuffing such as spicy potatoes (aloo), cauliflower, paneer (Indian cottage cheese), lentils, eggs, and more. It shallows fried in tawa (flat skillet) and flaky and crispy bread. It can be eaten with any sort of chutney, curd, butter or vegetables.
Naan is flat with a soft center and crispy crust. Among the ingredients are white wheat flour, yogurt, and eggs. It is traditionally baked in a charcoal-fired clay oven and cooked in a pizza stone oven to give it the desired heat. Naan comes in many flavors. From plain to stuffed ones with potatoes, cheese, and onion to add individuality. It can be served with a mixture of meat and vegetables. The delicious sweet version of it is stuffed with almonds and raisins. The hot naan is slathered in butter or ghee.
Kulchas are mildly leavened flatbreads that originated in India. Made with white flour, salt, and yeast, water is added to make a tight dough, which is left to stand for an hour. A silkier dough is possible when milk or yogurt is used instead of water. Like naans, kulchas are also baked in the tandoor and are served plain with a spicy chickpea curry known as chole.
Puri or Poori is an unleavened fried flatbread made of wheat flour. It is mostly served in ceremonial rituals and is an integral part of Indian cuisine for festivals and functions. When it puffs up during frying you will feel that a ball is in the making. It can be eaten with a potato curry called aloo bhaji, or with other vegetable-based curries.
This fluffy and deep-fried bread is Punjab’s specialty. It is made from leavened dough that consists of white flour, yogurt, ghee or oil, and yeast. After it is kneaded, the dough is left to rise. The risen dough is then divided into balls and rolled out. Once it is deep-fried in hot oil. It is yummy and eaten with chickpea curry. In Punjab, the dish is called chole bhature.
A lightly spiced Gujrati flatbread, thepla is prepared from wheat flour, gram flour, and fenugreek leaves. Delicious wholesome bread and taste lip-smacking when eaten with chunda (sweet mango pickle). it is a popular breakfast and enjoyed best with a cup of hot tea.
Battis is a traditional Rajasthani wheat bread that is first boiled in water and then baked in a tandoor (clay oven). hard in texture and round in shape, it is different from other regional bread in India. It has high nutritional value and requires a minimal amount of water. It is served with Rajasthani panchmela dal.
Idlis are steamed rice cakes that likely originated in southern India. It is made from the fermented batter of lentils and rice. The batter is filled inside the idli mould and place in boiling water for steaming. They are eaten with condiments such as coconut-based chutneys or dunked into piping hot sambhar.
Dosas are a type of pancake that originated in the south of India; batter consisting of rice and black gram is left to ferment overnight and then mixed with water to achieve the right thickness. It is cooked by ladling a thin layer of batter on a greased skillet these dosas are kept folded or rolled like a wrap. There are other variations of dosas that are stuffed with potatoes (masala dosa) or other vegetables and sauces. It is served with sambhar and coconut chutney.