Bread of all varieties
Bread is a basic food that is devoured in many cultures around the world. Made from dough, typically consisting of flour, water, yeast, and salt, bread is one of the oldest man-made foods. Some additional ingredients are also added such as sugar, milk, eggs, and butter to enhance the flavor and texture of the bread. Bread can be baked in a variety of shapes and sizes, including buns, rolls, and flatbreads. The texture and flavor of the bread also vary depending on the type of flour used, the leavening method (yeast, sourdough, or baking powder), and the baking temperature and time. Bread can be devoured on its own or used as a base for toast, sandwiches, and other dishes. It is also often used as a side dish to accompany meals such as soups, stews, and salads.
Bread in India
Bread is not traditionally a staple food in India, as rice and various types of flatbreads are more commonly consumed. However, with the influence of Western culture and the increasing availability of bread, it has become more common in certain parts of the country. In urban areas, especially in the north, sliced bread is widely available and often consumed as a breakfast item or used to make sandwiches. Indian-style bread like naan, roti, paratha, and chapati are also widely consumed throughout the country and are often used to accompany meals or eaten as a snack.
Bread is also used in some traditional Indian dishes, such as bread pakora (deep-fried bread fritters) and bread upma (a dish made with sautéed bread and spices).
How Bread came to India?
As we all know that bread is not a traditional staple food in India, we Indians are more of a rice and heavy meal kind of a people. So where did ‘bread’ come from?
The consumption of bread in India was first introduced during the British colonial period, particularly in the early 19th century, when the British brought in bread-making techniques from Europe and set up bakeries to cater to the British population in India. The first bakeries were established in the cities of Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Madras (now Chennai) in the early 1800s. These bakeries produced bread using wheat flour, that was imported from England. Over time, the popularity of bread spread to other parts of the country, and Indian bakers began to experiment with adding local spices and flavors to create unique varieties of bread. In the early 20th century, bread production in India started to shift from artisanal bakeries to larger industrial bakeries. During World War II, bread became an essential food item for the Indian army, and the government started setting up bakeries to meet the demand.
Today, bread is widely available in India, particularly in urban areas, and is consumed as a breakfast item or used to make sandwiches. Indian-style bread such as naan, roti, paratha, and chapati are still more popular and commonly consumed, especially in rural areas. However, bread has become a part of the Indian diet, and a range of varieties, including white bread, whole wheat bread, and specialty bread, are produced and consumed across the country.
Variations of Bread
India has a rich culinary tradition that includes a wide variety of bread, each with its unique taste, texture, and cultural significance. Here are some popular varieties of bread in India:
- Naan : A leavened, oven-baked flatbread made with white flour, yeast, and milk or yogurt. Naan is typically cooked in a tandoor (clay oven) and is often brushed with butter or ghee (clarified butter) before serving. It is a popular accompaniment to Indian curries and kebabs.
- Preparation : To make naan, the dough is usually prepared by mixing flour, yeast, salt, sugar, yogurt, and water. The dough is then kneaded until it turns soft. It is then left to rise for a few hours before being divided into small balls. These balls are then rolled out into oval or teardrop shapes and cooked in a tandoor or on a stovetop using a skillet or griddle. Naan is usually brushed with ghee or butter as soon as it is taken out of the oven to keep it soft and moist.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Naan are:
- Butter Naan
- Garlic Naan
- Cheese Naan
- Keema Naan
- Peshawari Naan
- Roti : Roti is a traditional Indian flatbread that is typically made with whole wheat flour, water, and sometimes salt. It is an essential part of Indian cuisine and is served with a variety of dishes such as curries, vegetables, and lentils. Roti is usually thin and slightly chewy with a nutty flavor.
- Preparation : To make roti, whole wheat flour is mixed with water and kneaded until a soft dough is formed. The dough is then left to rest for a few minutes before being divided into small balls. These balls are then rolled out into thin circles and cooked on a tawa, a flat griddle. Roti is cooked until it puffs up and develops golden-brown spots. It is usually brushed with ghee or butter and served hot.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Roti are:
- Paratha : Paratha is a popular Indian flatbread that is usually stuffed with various fillings such as mashed potatoes, cauliflower, paneer, or radish. It is typically made with wheat flour and is fried on a griddle with oil or ghee until it is crispy and golden brown. Paratha is a adaptable dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and is often served with pickles, yogurt, or chutney.
- Preparation : To make paratha, wheat flour is mixed with water to form a soft dough. The dough is then divided into small balls, which are rolled out into circles. The filling is then placed in the center of the circle and the dough is folded over it to create a pocket. The pocket is then rolled out again into a flatbread and cooked on a griddle with oil or ghee until it is golden brown.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Paratha are:
- Bhatura : Bhatura is a popular North Indian deep-fried bread that is made with a mixture of all-purpose flour, semolina, yogurt, salt, and sugar. The dough is allowed to rest for several hours before being rolled out into large circular shapes and deep-fried until they puff up and turn golden brown. It is often served with a spicy chickpea curry called chole.
- Preparation : To prepare Bhatura, all-purpose flour, semolina, yogurt, salt, and sugar are combined to form a dough. The dough is then kneaded for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. The dough is then covered and allowed to rest for several hours to ensure that it rises and becomes soft. Once the dough has rested, it is divided into small portions and rolled out into large, circular shapes. These are then deep-fried in hot oil until they puff up and turn golden brown.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Bhatura are:
- Kulcha : Kulcha is a popular North Indian bread that is similar to Naan. It is typically made with refined flour (maida), yogurt, salt, and baking powder, and is baked in a tandoor (clay oven) or on a griddle. Kulcha is known for its soft and chewy texture and is often served with spicy curries or chole (spiced chickpeas).
- Preparation : To make Kulcha, the refined flour (maida) is mixed with yogurt, salt, baking powder, and water to form a soft dough. The dough is then allowed to rest for several hours to develop flavor and texture. The dough is then divided into small balls and rolled out into flatbreads. The flatbreads are then baked in a tandoor (clay oven) or on a griddle until they are puffy and golden brown.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Kulcha are:
- Appam : Appam is a soft and fluffy South Indian pancake that is made with a batter of fermented rice and coconut milk. It has a slightly sweet and tangy taste and is usually served for breakfast or dinner.
- Preparation : To make Appam, a batter is made by soaking raw rice and cooked rice in water for several hours. The soaked rice is then ground into a fine paste along with coconut milk and yeast. The batter is then allowed to ferment for several hours to develop a sour flavor and fluffy texture. The fermented batter is then poured into a specially designed pan called an Appam chatti and cooked over low heat until the edges turn crispy and the center is soft and spongy.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Appam are:
- Egg Appam
- Vegetable Appam
- Brioche : Brioche is a type of bread that originated in France but has gained popularity in India in recent years. It is a buttery and rich bread made with eggs, sugar, and flour. The dough is fermented overnight to develop its distinct flavor and texture, which is soft and fluffy. Brioche is often served as a sweet bread, but can also be used as a base for sandwiches or as a side to savory dishes.
- Preparation : To prepare the Brioche, the dough is mixed and kneaded until it becomes smooth and elastic. The dough is then left to rise for several hours, which allows the yeast to work its magic and create air pockets in the bread. The dough is then shaped into various forms, such as rolls or loaves, and baked until golden brown.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Brioche are:
- Cardamom brioche
- Saffron brioche
- Coconut brioche
- Pistachio brioche
- Rose brioche
- Baguette : A long, thin bread that is originally from France but has become popular in India as well. Baguette is typically made with white flour, water, yeast, and salt. The dough is then allowed to rise before being shaped into a long, thin loaf and baked in an oven until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It is often used for making sandwiches or eaten with butter and jam.
- Preparation : Baguette is typically made by mixing flour, water, salt, and yeast into a dough and then letting it rise for a few hours. The dough is then shaped into long, thin loaves and baked in a hot oven until crispy and golden brown.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Baguette are:
- Garlic Baguette
- Cheese Baguette
- Multigrain Baguette
- Olive and Rosemary Baguette
- Chocolate Baguette
- Sheermal : A saffron-flavored flatbread that is popular in the northern parts of India. Sheermal is made by mixing flour, yeast, sugar, milk, and saffron. The dough is then allowed to rise before being rolled thin and cooked on a tawa (griddle) or baked in a tandoor (clay oven). It has a slightly sweet taste and is often served with kebabs or curries.
- Preparation : Sheermal is typically made by combining flour, sugar, yeast, milk, saffron, and ghee to create a dough. The dough is then kneaded until it becomes smooth and elastic before being allowed to rise for a period of time. After the dough has risen, it is rolled out into circles and then baked in a tandoor oven until it becomes fluffy and slightly crisp on the outside. Some variations of sheermal may also include different types of spices or toppings such as sesame seeds or poppy seeds.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Sheermal are:
- Zafrani Sheermal
- Garlic Sheermal
- Nigella Sheermal
- Coconut Sheermal
- Almond Sheermal
- Thepla : Thepla is a popular flatbread from the western Indian state of Gujarat. It is made from a dough of whole wheat flour, yogurt, and spices such as turmeric, cumin, and chili powder. The dough is then rolled out into thin circles and cooked on a griddle with oil or ghee until lightly browned and crispy.
- Preparation : Thepla is typically made with a dough that includes whole wheat flour, spices, and sometimes vegetables such as fenugreek leaves. The dough is kneaded until it is soft and then rolled out into thin circles. The thepla is then cooked on a griddle or tawa until it is golden brown and slightly crispy.
- Variations : Some of the popular variations of Thepla are:
- Methi Thepla
- Masala Thepla
- Dhania Thepla
- Palak Thepla
- Mooli Thepla
Bread is now a staple food in India with a diverse range of varieties, each with its unique taste and texture. From the soft and fluffy naan to the crispy and flaky paratha, the Indian bread culture is rich and vibrant. The preparation methods vary from region to region and depend on the ingredients available. With the increasing globalization and fusion of cuisines, new variations of bread have emerged, integrating Indian flavors with international bread-making techniques. Bread remains a crucial part of the Indian diet and will continue to evolve with time, reflecting the diverse and dynamic food culture of the country.