The Indian Bread Types You Need to Know
Indian cuisine is known for its leavened and unleavened flatbread. Here are Indian bread types that are quite popular across the subcontinent.
When we think about Indian cuisine, the first things that come to mind are naan and curry. Naan is leavened flatbread prepared with all-purpose flour, wheat flour or a combination of both. Traditionally, it is cooked in a tandoor (or clay oven), but these days oven-baked naan bread is quite popular. An Indian restaurant menu is incomplete without garlic naan. Learn how to make naan bread at home.
Appam, also known as rice hoppers, are soft, bowl-shaped pancakes prepared with fermented rice batter and coconut. They’re quite popular in South India, especially in the state of Kerala. They’re crispy and lacy around the edges and soft and thick in the middle. Pair with coconut milk or vegetable stew for a delicious breakfast. Learn the difference between crispy and crunchy.
Bhatoora is a famous deep-fried leavened bread made with all-purpose flour. You can make bhatoora with or without yeast. You’ll often find bhatoora paired with chickpea curry. Look for chole bhature or chana bhatura in restaurants and roadside eateries. Eat any of these breads along with these Indian main dishes.
A dosa is a rice and lentil pancake prepared with fermented rice and lentil batter. It’s a staple breakfast in many South Indian households, some varieties resembling pancakes and others resembling crepes. Coconut chutney makes a satisfying side.
While rice is the staple of South India, roti (or chapati bread) is the staple of North India. It is unleavened bread prepared with whole wheat flour on a tawa or griddle, and it’s an integral part of everyday meals. You can serve roti with simple dal or with exotic curries.
Paratha is a flaky, layered flatbread that is quite common in North Indian households. For breakfast, parathas filled with vegetables like potato, cauliflower and cabbage, as well as paneer, are quite famous. Serve your paratha with a side of pickle or yogurt and a sip of lassi or chai.
Thepla is a delicious flatbread from the Gujarati cuisine, prepared with wheat flour, gram flour or millet flour and spices. You can make thepla without veggies, but there is no harm in adding veggies and greens like fenugreek leaves or bottle gourd. Unlike the veggies stuffed inside parathas, the veggies here are mixed with dough, which is rolled out and cooked.
South Indian Roti
If you are following a gluten-free diet, you will love the gluten-free South Indian rotis like akki roti (roti with rice flour), ragi roti (roti with finger millet flour) and bajra roti (roti with pearl millet flour). This roti is prepared with the corresponding gluten-free flours mixed with onion and assorted spices.
Poori (or puri) is a deep-fried, unleavened flatbread made with whole wheat flour. Poori are smaller in size when compared to bhatoora. These puffed-up, deep-fried golden beauties are served along with aloo (potato) or chana masala (chickpea curry).
Parotta, a popular street food in South India, is a layered flatbread prepared with all-purpose flour. It’s a sight to watch how these cooks prepare the parotta dough and layer them! This flaky, addictive bread is usually served with meat-based gravies or with vegetable korma.
Papadum is a crispy flatbread or wafer. Depending on where you are, it’s also known as papad or pappadum or applam. While all the other Indian bread can be served as a main dish, papadum is always served as a side dish. Typically made with lentils, papadum can be deep-fried or roasted over an open flame. An Indian thali (meal plate) is not complete without it!
Kulcha is a mildly leavened bread prepared with all-purpose flour without any yeast, but rather leavened with yogurt and/or baking powder. Though it’s similar to naan, you don’t need a tandoor oven to make kulcha; you can easily prepare it on a griddle.
South Indian Pancakes
Apart from dosa, South India is also known for its mixed lentil pancakes like adai and pesarattu, prepared with green mung beans. These lesser-known pancakes and crepes are served with vegetable stew and assorted chutneys.
Next, find more authentic Indian recipes to make.