Guide to Indian breads

One of the best ways of coming up with more creative recipes in the kitchen is to become familiar with different international ingredients and recipes.

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August 13, 2014 3 min read

Naan breadOne of the best ways of coming up with more creative recipes in the kitchen is to become familiar with different international ingredients and recipes. Doing so expands your cultural reference point and gives you a more diverse set of tools to work with. Indian cuisine is a great place to look for inspiration. The food from Southeast Asia is known for its seasoning as well as the variety of chutneys and other condiments that are often served alongside main dishes. However, one of the most interesting parts of the food from this region of the world is the different kinds of bread one can find there. While chewy, puffy naan is the bread that most Westerners associate with the Indian subcontinent, there is a surprisingly large variety of flatbreads that have been produced there for centuries.


The most familiar of all Indian breads, and for good reason. Naan is a flatbread baked in a traditional clay tandoor oven. The result is a flaky, charred exterior and a soft, chewy interior. This puffy bread is perfect for sopping up every last bit of delicious curry.


The word “roti” is traditionally used to refer to all unleavened [maybe define what unleavened means?] breads (including chapati and paratha). However, there is a specific type of bread called roti that tends to be a little thicker than chapati and uses whole meal flour. Roti breads are usually used as utensils in India, simply tear off a bit and use it to scoop up your food.


This unleavened bread is often equated with roti despite its subtle differences. Chapati is made from whole wheat flour (which is different from the whole meal flour that roti are made of). Like roti, chapati bread is commonly used as an eating utensil.


This bread originates from the Indian state of Orissa in the southeast section of the country. It is the classic fried Indian bread, composed of a relatively simple dough of flour, water and salt that is then deep fried in oil or ghee (clarified butter). The frying process causes the puri to collect steam and puff up. These puffed breads are then stuffed with either meat or vegetables to make classic Indian snack foods such as pani puri?.


Parathas are a kind of layered, unleavened bread that is lightly fried and often sold stuffed with curried vegetables or other delicious filling. Stuffed parathas are some of the most popular Indian snack foods.

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