A roti for every season, every reason!

Roti, Parantha and Naan are such fixtures on our dining tables that we take their presence for granted, almost. It is only when we look West, where the only breads available are in loaves, that we realise how gifted our Indian cuisine is. There is a variety for every reason and every season. For daily consumption, there is roti. When in the mood for something more extravagant, there is parantha. And on festivals, there is the lavish deep-fried poori.

And, it doesn’t stop at that. Every region of India offers a different stack of flatbreads. Go slightly westwards and you’ll find the colourful thepla and bhakri. In south India, rice bread prevails over wheat breads and there is a hugely different array of breads – dosa, appam and uttapam – to enjoy. Restaurants are also trying out variations of these flatbreads, to offer more and more to the great Indian gastronome.

Chef Anil Khurana, corporate chef at the Hyatt Regency Delhi, says, “The best thing about Indian breads is that they are very versatile. Some depend on the kind of grain used to prepare them while others depend on the fillings they contain.

Dough for Indian breads is quick to prepare. Roti is cooked on a tava or cast-iron griddle or in a tandoor. Naan is soft and fluffy and made from plain flour with a little bit of yeast. Paranthas, which are a pan-fried and layered Indian flatbread, are crispy and flaky, while Lachha parantha is rolled and pleated to give a croissant-like quality.”

Stuffed paranthas are popular too. In western India, breads are made from coarse grains such as bajra, sorghum or ragi, though wheat is the staple in these regions. In southern India, a batter of rice and black lentils is prepared for making breads.

Ram Singh, Executive Chef of Hadippa Restaurant, Rajouri Garden, says, “Indian cuisine is the most experimental of all cuisines. A lot of innovations are being done with breads as well. Papad parantha is stuffed with crushed papad and desi ghee, sugar parantha is served with a layer of honey which is a dessert in itself. For non-vegetarians, Lamb paranthas, a new hit these days, are stuffed with grilled lamb shreds. The most innovative way in which a parantha is served is in Gujarati cuisine. Besan ka parantha, which has only dry besan stuffed in it, is very tasty.”

Pooran Poli, a western India specialty, contains sweet lentil. In the south, where people are more health conscious, Carrot Onion Uttapam makes for a nutritious breakfast and Ragi Idli Dosa is a great dinner. How to forget the Mughlai parantha? Full of beaten eggs and/ or minced meat, isn’t that every hostellers’ full meal?

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