A look at the Indian breadbasket

This is in continuation of what you can find as breads when you are looking for Indian vegetarian recipes.

Bhatura: deep-fried leavened bread
A popular Punjabi deep-fried bread which is inseparable from chick peas especially in the combination of ‘chholay bhatura’. It would be more appropriate to call bhatura semi leavened as the fermentation is done with yogurt and baking powder. The downside of this bread is that is quite oily but once placed on a kitchen paper, some of the oil is absorbed.
Puri: deep-fried bread
Oddly enough the name is derived from the Hindi word puri which means complete. Be it any major occasion like a party or marriage, puris will inevitably be gracing the tables. Called the queen of all breads, many puris can be fried at one time and when there is mass preparation this is the ultimate choice. Though the puffiness settles as the puris cool down, the fact remains that the bread is soft enough to wipe off many a gravy from a dish.
Roomali roti: handkerchief bread
Now this one is an artistic presentation! The origin lies in the Mughal days. It gets its name from its texture and size, though not its shape- for it is circular and not rectangular (handkerchiefs are!). The dough is made using plain white and whole-wheat flour and kneaded well. After being put to rest for 45-60 minutes the dough is ready for further treatment. It is rolled slightly and then flicked up with the tips of the fingers so that the stretching action increases the circumference of the roti. The griddle (tawa) is to be kept inverted, convex side up, on the heat. Once the roti is placed the cooking takes seconds to complete because the roti is very thin. Roomali roti is served folded in half and then quarter. Though best had hot, in case it is to be served later the rotis should be steamed or the container placed in an oven on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. It is important to serve this bread moist otherwise it tends to become papery and of course, rather unpalatable.
Now that an extended and deep introduction has been made with Indian vegetarian recipes, let’s try out our hand at making a few more breads at home. Moong dal puri, Peshwari naanPaneer kulcha.

A look at the Indian breadbasket

Many Indian vegetarian dishes as well as non vegetarian curries call for accompaniments like breads and these come in a large variety! Curry dishes are best enjoyed with Indian breads that come in various shapes, textures and taste. The best way to research is to order a breadbasket in an Indian restaurant. The variety served is an eye opener and then once you have sampled everything, reorder one that is your favourite of the evening. A quick run of Indian vegetarian recipes that make an ideal breadbasket follows….

Phulka: puffed whole wheat bread.
The commonest and is eaten daily with meat and vegetable curries and dals. Called the chapatti sometimes but in actual terms a chapatti is generally flat and not puffed, it comes from the Hindi word ‘chapat’ which means flat. Phulka means one that is puffed as it is derived from the Hindi word ‘phulna’. One familiar but confusing usage of the term roti baffles a few. Roti is any unleavened bread like phulka, chapatti or roomali roti.

Parantha: layered fried bread
‘Parat’ means layer, and therefore parantha is a layered fried bread the layering of which is done by folding the dough while rolling it out. Depending upon the stuffing for the filling inside, many kinds of parathans are possible. Plain paranthas are usually enjoyed with various curries. The same dough as that used for the phulka may be used to prepare paranthas. To make stuffed paranthas, the stuffing is added before folding and layering the flour. The stuffing used may be boiled peas, potatoes, cauliflower, onion or radish. For non-vegetarians, a popular stuffing use is minced meat.

Naan: leavened bread
A bread which is seen more often than rotis in many Indian restaurants. Though of Persian and Afghan origins, naan is an incomparable combination of European bread and the Indian chapatti! One might think then that the recipe will be painstaking but that is not the case. In fact, the recipe works in favour of its universal appeal. White flour mixed with yeast and other ingredients gives dough that can be rolled out and put to cook in a tandoor. The final flourish is the sprinkling of nigella seeds! One test for a good cook is that if the dough for the naan is right, they should puff up.
As our knowledge of Indian vegetarian recipes keeps getting enhanced, look up some more breads such as Aloo ParanthaBhatureMissi Roti

Year ending, busy days ahead…

Back from cold and foggy Delhi after a successful launch of Sura vie. Not to mention the expected delay in flights!Anyway, a hectic few days ahead with the shoot for Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana from today. Will attend a Press Conference tomorrow morning regarding the Masterchef India show. I have a cook off with the contestants for the Press.

Simultaneously, Chef Harpal is making more episodes for Turban Tadka in our office studios and to add to the activity the interior decoration of the new office spaces is going ahead at full speed. I can finally see the end of the renovation plans!

More buzz as my team of chefs will be competing in the Christmas Cake Competition… look out for this space for their exciting presentations!

For you some special baked goodies….

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.