Wholesome and hearty flatbreads are an essential and delicious component of a truly well balanced Indian meal. There are several different types and varieties specific to the various regions of India. The Indian flatbreads can be divided into three basic categories: deep fried breads (such as pooris and bhaturas), tava breads (such as rotis, phulkas, chapatis and parathas) and lastly, tandoor breads (such as naans and tandoori roti). These breads are all found typically in northern Indian cuisine. They are made mainly of wheat and can be served either plain or stuffed. The possibilities are endless! With a little creative imagination, Indian flatbreads can add a whole new dimension to an already wonderful meal.
South Indian cuisine also has its version of flatbreads known as dosas, uttapams and idlis. These breads are often made from combinations of rice flour and lentils and are equally just as delicious as they are nutritious.
For many people, the task of making breads can be a little daunting. But I can assure you that Indian flatbreads are definitely worth it. In fact, they are quite easy to prepare and require minimal work.
The simplest and most basic of all Indian flatbreads is the phulka (or roti). The recipe below is very easy and effortless. I encourage you to try making them; you will surely enjoy the outcome. Hot & fresh Tomato Phulkas are a wonderful and delicious part of any Indian meal.
TOMATO PHULKA RECIPE (Indian Tomato Flatbread)
(Makes about 8 phulkas)
2 cups of whole wheat flour (atta)
¼ tsp ground cumin powder
pinch of salt
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
¼ cup cilantro leaves, finely minced
½-1 cup tomato puree
a few tbsp of all-purpose flour, as needed
ghee or butter
In a large mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat flour with the ground cumin powder, salt, ginger, garlic and cilantro leaves. Stir together and gradually add the tomato puree - mix well until you have a fairly stiff dough. Do not add any water. The easiest way to do this is by using clean hands. Knead the dough until it yields a smooth texture and consistency. Cover with a slightly damp cloth and let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes.
Keep aside a little all-purpose flour for dusting. Knead the dough again and divide into 8-10 equal portions. Roll the individual portions into round balls (golf ball size). Take 1 round ball at a time and flatten it into a round disk using your palms. Dust your work area and rolling pin with a little bit of flour to prevent sticking. Gently roll the flattened ball into a circle, making sure the phulka is even in thickness. Keep rolling until you have created a thin round phulka approximately 6 inches in diameter.
Heat a large frying pan on medium heat, add a little ghee or butter (or even cooking spray may be used) and carefully place the phulka in the pan. After a minute or so, turn the phulka. Both sides should be golden brown. Brush with ghee or butter and serve hot with traditional Indian vegetables or curries. Enjoy!
Feel free to use multi-grain flour instead for a super healthy roti. You can also add a tsp of ajwain or owa to the dough if you like.
To make tomato pooris, simply roll out 3-4" size circles (or you can use a poori press) & deep fry until golden brown. Drain well & serve :-)