For a cuisine oozing with sumptuous spices and herbaceous flavor, it’s hard to believe bread can be such a highlight in India. But, let me tell you, it most certainly is.
The variety of bread differs depending on where you are in the country, but no matter where you are you will certainly not have a lack of options. It’s not uncommon to find a whole page of the menu in India dedicated just to the bread section. Different types of bread include: Chapati, Phulka, Puri, Roti, Paratha, Naan, Kulcha, Bhatoora, Baqar Khani, Appam, Dosa, Luchi, Puran Poli, Pathiri, and many more. Pictured above is a plate of chapati (crispy flatbread), which is a part of everyday Indian meals.
Breads can be eaten by themselves, but are most often eaten as an accompaniment to the meal. Because Indians don’t eat with utensils and rather just with their hands, bread is the perfect way to shovel those mouthfuls in and savor every last morsel of the meal.
In search of the perfect bread, we made it a point to try as many as possible, often sampling two or three different breads at each sitting. (And we wondered why we were packing on the pounds?!). I’m happy to share the proud winners of this gluttonous competition:
Naan: Naans are made using dough made of refined flour with a leavening agent of some sort. It’s cooked in a tandoor oven so the dough will rise just so. The best is when the naan is gently charred and topped with garlic and butter.
Paratha: A thin layer of oil or clarified butter (they call ghee) is spread on the surface of rolled bread. It is then cooked on a hot griddle, with liberal splashes of oil or ghee. The final result is a crisp bread that is multi-layered and tastes quite good with just about anything. The best paratha is stuffed with a dollop of stuffing (spices, vegetables or meat) for an extra punch.