Indian daily breads are called chapatti, phulka and roti and paratha. They are made of finely milled whole wheat flour and water. Some recipes call for salt or oil but I like to make mine without them. The cooks that use salt and oil say it tenderizes the dough. For me the taste of salt and oil in Indian bread dough interferes with the overall meal as the bread does not stay neutral/innocent in taste. Pooris are fried breads that are usually made on holidays, festive occasions and for entertaining. Indian flat breads are used to scoop up curries and vegetables.
Tools required for making Indian Flatbreads
Cast Iron concave griddle 8-12 inches in diameter called tawa a shallow mixing bowl A rolling pin a large plate for dusting the dough while rolling it out tongs for the beginner wok stand placed over the electric or gas burner a grilling rack which is placed over the wok stand
a wok for deep frying for Pooris and other fried breads only
Making dough for Indian Flatbreads
Put flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in a stream of water in the centre. Use one hand to mix the flour and water in a rotating motion from the centre of the bowl outward, until the dough is moist enough to be gathered into a rough mass. Wet hands and continue until the mixture cleans the sides of the bowl and has become a non-stick, kneadable dough. When the dough is kneaded, it will be elastic and silky smooth. To test the dough, press it lightly with a fingertip. If it springs back, it is ready to be rested. Resting the dough is the last step and allows the dough to relax and absorb the water and kneading. Rest for 1/2 hour in warm climates and 1.5 hours in cold climates. Cover with a wet towel so the dough does not dry out. The rested dough is light and springy, less resistant to being rolled out into the thin rounds. I like to mix, knead, rest and then refrigerated for convenience and use daily. My dough lasts in the refrigerator for about 5 days. It also makes rolling out easier than the freshly made dough.
Once you taste these unleavened, unsalted simple breads – a person is hooked. This is simple, unpretentious home cooking but very satisfying, healthy and easy on the pocket book. There are also excellent for those with a yeast allergy. Rotis are made from small balls of dough that are rolled out and then partially cooked on a hot griddle and then finished directly over high heat. The high heat makes the rotis puff up into a ball. They are then lightly coated with ghee to keep them pliable until serving time. Line a tortilla basket with a napkin and keep the rotis in it. Allow 2-3 chapattis or rotis per person. This is everyday Indian bread made in most Indian homes daily.
Ingredients to make about 6: 2.5 cups chapatti flour 1 cup water at room temperature 1 cup chapatti flour ghee,
Method to roll out the dough:
Prepare the desired amount of dough from the Basic Dough recipe. After resting for 2-2 1/2 hours, knead well. Divide the dough into peach-size balls. On a lightly floured surface, flatten one ball of dough with your hand. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a thin, round patty, about 5 inches in diameter. Roll from the centre, turning patty several times to prevent sticking. Try to make the edges slightly thinner than the centre. As you cook the chapatti/roti, one could be rolling out the next, rather than shaping all of the chapattis at one time.
Method of cooking the chapatti or roti: Preheat a cast-iron tawa over medium heat. Place the rolled dough on the palm of one hand and flip it over on to the tawa. When the colour changes on the top and bubbles appear, turn it over. When both sides are done, use kitchen tongs (chimta) to remove the chapatti from the skillet. Gas Stove: If you have a gas stove, hold the cooked chapatti over a medium flame and it will puff up immediately. Turn quickly to flame-bake the other side. Do this several times, taking care that the edges are well cooked. Electric Stove: If you have an electric stove, chapattis can be encouraged to puff by pressing them with a clean kitchen towel after the first turn on each side. Repeat the shaping and cooking process until all chapattis are cooked. To keep the chapattis warm as they are cooked, place them in a towel-lined bowl and fold over the sides of the towel. Serve hot, either completely dry or topped with a small amount of ghee or butter.
These breads, called parathas, are flaky and somewhat more elaborate than chapattis or rotis. The dough is rolled out and brushed with ghee or oil folded and brushed with ghee or oil again and folded again to form a layered slice. This is then rolled out again. This is then put on a hot griddle and brushed with oil. The heat makes the layers of dough swell and puff, resulting flaky, pastry like flat breads. They may also be used as snacks, lunch-box favourites, light brunch items or travelling munching companions. Allow 1 or 2 per person.
Ingredients: 2.5 cups chapatti flour 1 cup water at room temperature 1 cup chapatti flour ghee for brushing the bread
Method to roll out the dough
Prepare Basic dough and allow to rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. To make triangularshaped parathas, divide the dough into peach-size balls. With a rolling pin, roll out 1 ball to a circle 5 inches in diameter. Brush the circle of dough with ghee, and fold in half to from a crescent then brush again with ghee and fold into a triangle. Seal the edges well. Dust the paratha with finely sieved whole wheat flour and roll into a large, flat triangle or round paratha. Try to make the edges slightly thinner to ensure uniform cooking. Rather than shaping all the parathas at one time, cook each one as the next one is rolled out.
Method of cooking the paratha Preheat a cast-iron tawa over medium heat. Place the rolled dough on the palm of one hand and flip it over on to the tawa. When the colour changes on the top and bubbles appear, brush ghee over the surface of the paratha and turn it over. Repeat the process of brushing the paratha on the other side. Keep flipping it over till both sides are browned and spots appear on the paratha. With experience the paratha will puff on the tawa. To keep the parathas warm as they are cooked, place them in a towel-lined bowl and fold over the sides of the towel. Serve hot.
These are small round pancakes size rounds of dough that are slipped into hot oil or ghee, where they fill with steam and balloon in seconds. Pooris are soft silk like breads with which curries and vegetables are scooped up. Allow 2-3 per person, depending on the size of the breads and the accompanying dishes.
Ingredients: 2.5 cups chapatti flour 2/3 cup water at room temperature ghee Oil for deep frying
Method to roll out the dough Make stiff but pliable dough. Cover the dough with damp cloth And set aside for 30 minutes.
Knead dough a little again. Dough should be stiff enough to roll without extra flour. Make small balls of the dough and cover them with damp cloth. Take one ball of dough and dip a corner of ball in melted ghee or oil and roll it out into 4 to 5 inches round. Repeat the same process to roll out all pooris.
Frying the Pooris Heat plenty of oil in a kadhai until very hot. Put in a poori and immediately start flickering hot oil over the top of it with a spatula so that it will swell up like a ball. This should take only a few seconds. Flip the poori over and cook the other side until golden brown. Serve hot with curries or vegetables.
Parathas are sometimes stuffed with herbed potatoes, shredded radishes and cauliflower with its water squeezed out, peas and even sugar or dried fruit pastes. Cut into wedges, they are excellent finger foods for parties. Allow 1-2 per person, depending on the size of the breads and the accompanying dishes. Serve with yogurt raita and Indian pickles. Ingredients: 2 medium potatoes (boiled, peeled, mashed and cooled to room temperature) 1 tsp. Coriander powder 1 tsp. Cumin powder 1/2 tsp. amchoor powder/mango powder 1 green chilli minced (optional) 1 tsp. Chilli powder 1 tsp. lime/lemon juice salt to taste finely chopped cilantro 2 cups wheat flour ,
Method: Mix mashed potatoes, coriander powder, cumin powder, mango powder, chopped green chillies, salt, cilantro, lime juice and chilli powder. Make small balls of the mixture. Take a ball of dough slightly thicker than chapatti (large egg size or peach size) and roll it to a circle 4-5 inches in diameter. Place Potato mixture on it and again make it into a ball. Seal the edges completely so that the stuffing does not come out. Flatten these balls and roll into a 6 inch circle. Pre-heat the griddle (tawa). Turn it and spread little oil or butter and cook over low heat. Turn it again and spread butter/oil on the other side. Cook both sides till golden brown. Serve with chutney, yogurt, steamed vegetable and Indian pickles
2 cups whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1/4 cup milk 1/2 cup water Bhakari Recipe Directions: Combine the flour, salt, oil, milk, and half the water in a bowl. Mix using a wooden spoon or fingers. Add more water, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time until the dough forms a ball. Knead the dough with lightly oiled hands for 10 minutes. The dough should be fairly firm. Allow the dough to rest, covered with a dish cloth, for 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 to 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a round 1/4 inch thick. Heat a flat griddle or large skillet over moderate heat. Cook the dough, one piece at a time, pressing it down occasionally with a spatula, until cooked and lightly browned on the bottom. Turn the dough and repeat. The dough may balloon slightly during cooking. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Makes 4 to 6 pieces.
Fried Bread Puffs
1 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Directions for Fried Bread Puffs Recipe: Combine flours, salt and oil in a bowl and make a stiff dough by adding water. Knead dough for 10 to 12 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes.
Break off small pieces of dough about the size of a cherry tomato. Roll out to about 3 inches in diameter. Deep fry in vegetable oil over medium heat a few seconds. They should puff up. Drain on paper towelling and serve hot.
4 cups all-purpose flour 1 Tablespoon sugar 1 Tablespoon double acting baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 2 eggs 1 cup milk 4 to 6 teaspoons ghee or melted butter
Directions for Naan Recipe: Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the eggs, stirring them into the mixture. Add the milk in a thin stream (or a little at a time if you only have two hands), and stir until all the ingredients are well combined.
Gather the dough into a ball and knead for about 10 minutes, adding a little flour as needed to prevent sticking, until the dough is smooth and can be gathered into a soft, somewhat sticky ball. Moisten your hands with a teaspoon of ghee, rub it over the ball of dough, and place it in a bowl. Drape a kitchen towel over the bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for about 3 hours.
Place two increased baking sheets in the oven and preheat the oven and the sheets to 450F. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and flatten each into a tear drop, or leaf shape about 6 inches long and 31/2 inches across at its widest point. Use your fingers to do this, and moisten them with ghee as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. The ghee also assures the proper texture of the bread, so moisten your fingers with it even if the dough is not sticky.
Arrange the bread leaves side by side on the preheated baking sheets and bake them for about 6 minutes, or until they are firm to the touch. Slide them under the broiler for a minute or so to brown the tops lightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
You can add almost anything to a Naan bread whilst in the preparation stage like garlic, cooked minced meats, cooked potato, coconut, cooked chicken etc.