Indian breads are a ubiquitous item served alongside the country's famous dishes, especially curries, and are an integral part of Indian cuisine. There is a huge variety of Indian breads, ranging from flatbreads to crepes, using dough that is either unleavened or one that has risen. Some Indian breads are fried while others are cooked on a griddle (which is called a tava). Different regions of India have their own ingredients and style of baking breads, creating several types and variations served throughout India. Here are six of the most popular.
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Naan is probably the most famous of Indian bread. This fluffy, leavened Indian flatbread is best served hot, and even though it is ideal for sopping up the gravy in curry dishes, it also the perfect accompaniment for other popular dishes like tandoori chicken. Although traditionally made in a tandoor (clay oven), you can easily make naan in your oven at home. Just be sure to begin the recipe ahead as the dough needs time to proof.
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The beauty of chapatis is that they can be eaten with anything. Chapati is unleavened Indian flatbread traditionally cooked on a tava (flat skillet) but you can use a griddle or cast iron pan. The secret to getting soft chapatis is to knead the dough thoroughly—the longer you knead the dough, the softer the bread will be. Using milk or fresh yogurt instead of water will also result in a soft chapati that no one will be able to resist. Serve with chicken sukka, lime pickle, or nimbu ka achaar.
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Parathas are pan-fried Indian flatbread that are crispy and flaky. They go well with most Indian dishes, be it a gravied curry or a dry stir-fry. Parathas do take a few steps to make but are easy to prepare and definitely worth the time. The more layers you create by folding the dough over itself, the flakier the flatbread will be. And it crisps up from oiling and flipping the bread a few times in a hot pan.
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Aaloo parathas are parathas made with potato. A dough of flour, oil, and water is rolled out into a circle, and then a mashed potato mixture is combined into the pancake by gently rolling out the flatbread. The paratha is then ready to fry on a griddle. Aaloo parathas taste delicious with fresh, thick cream or a knob of unsalted, homemade butter.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Serve this crispy, golden fried Indian flatbread with any dish—vegetarian or otherwise—and your favorite pickle. Puffed up like a somewhat deflated ball, the perfect poori is light golden in color. With the ingredients being whole wheat flour, water, salt, and oil, you can whip up some poori without a special trip to the supermarket.
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Bhaturas are leavened, fried bread that are best eaten piping hot right as they are made. Bhatura dough needs up to five hours to rise before being made into larger circles and deep fried. The dough puffs up, similar to a poori, and is perfect served alongside chole (chickpea curry), a popular North Indian dish.