Breads of India, especially Western India, are a function of the local geography, climate, agriculture and socio-economic conditions, as we have talked about in the first article of this series. In the Western Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa also, this is evident with the use of millet breads in drier regions and rice based breads in coastal regions. However, one more factor which is prominently evident in this region is the presence of distinctive micro-cuisines and their breads which depart from the normal gradation of the bread types of the rest of the region. This factor is the assimilation of new cultures on Indian soil by way of invasions as well as migration and trading. This includes the unique Portuguese-derived bread culture of the erstwhile Portuguese colony Goa. This includes the breads of the Sindhi, Parsi and Bohri communities.
All in all, West India is the land of some of the most diverse and unique breads of India. Let’s take a look at this West Indian Breads list.
To be honest, Gujarati breads are THE breads to look for if you are looking to make a healthy Indian bread. The state consists of assorted Indian breads made of a variety of gluten and non-gluten flours. Let’s take a look at them below.
Rotla are thick flatbreads from Gujarat which are made out of bajra or jowar. They are traditionally cooked over kanda (cow dung cakes) in Gujarati villages, but in urban homes, the rotla is made on the tawa. Here’s a rotla recipe taught by a seasoned Gujarati lady.
2. Makai No Rotlo
This is another of the various non-gluten breads of India which is made out of maize flour. Maize flour is mixed with a little wheat flour and kneaded with warm water to make a dough. Like makai ki roti, it is then shaped by hand and cooked over a tawa. To add Gujarati flavours, yoghurts, green chilli and ginger garlic paste is sometimes added to make this a standalone snack to be enjoyed with an accompanying chutney. Here’s an interesting video showing how deftly the makai no rotlo is shaped by hand.
Bhakri is a group of flatbreads made from a variety of flours including wheat, rice, bajra, jowar, etc. It is much thicker than the gujarati rotli, and thus has ghee added within the dough to keep it moist internally. It is enjoyed in Gujarat as well as adjoining regions of Maharashtra and North Karnataka. As per the region, it is enjoyed with yoghurt, garlic chutney, chilli and peanut chutneys called thecha, baigan bharta and a rustic dish called Pithla or Zunka. Here’s the recipe of a biscuit-like Gujarati bhakri.
4. Juvar no rotlo
Similar to other rotlas, juvar no rotlo is a thick sorghum flatbread. It is made by kneading a dough of jowar and boiling water. The dough is then shaped by hand and cooked on a tawa. Here is a great blog with lots of tips on how to make a juvar no rotlo.
Thepla is an extremely popular Gujarati flatbread and also one of the well-known breads of India. It is soft in texture like rotis, but are made using a mixture of whole wheat flour and besan (chickpea flour). Thepla is usually spiced and contains additional flavours like fenugreek, making it a standalone snack or breakfast dish. Check out how to make theplas here.
Dhebra is a bajra or jowar flatbread which is shaped by hand and then deep fried or shallow fried in a pan. It has a number of flavours, of which the methi/fenugreek one is the most common. Check out the recipe here.
7. Poodla / Pooda
Poodla is a chickpea flour pancake, reminiscent of the north-Indian cheela. Vegetables of choice are added to it, along with a leavening agent like baking soda to yield a fluffy crispy pancake. Watch the process here.
8. Rajgira Ni Poori
Rajgira ni puri is a navratra special fasting bread, when the use of regular grains is restricted. It is made of amaranth flour and uses boiled potatoes for binding. Check out the recipe to this crispy delight here.
9. Jalebi Paratha
Don’t be fooled by its sweet name, because jalebi paratha plays a mean game! Belonging to the lachcha paratha family of crisp and flaky breads of India, it is named uniquely for the way it is rolled before cooking to get well-defined flaky layers. The detailed steps given here are a must-see!
Perhaps the most popular flatbread from Gujarat, khakhra uses whole wheat flour dough rolled out really thin. The khakhra is then roasted slowly and pressed with a cloth to ensure crispness. Here’s the khakhra recipe from India’s top food blogger.
Popularly known as Gujarati cake, this is a thick savoury pancake made of a batter of whole wheat flour, lentils, julienned vegetables and a topping of curry leaves, sesame and mustard seeds. You can watch a traditional handvo recipe in this video.
12. Padvali Roti / Bapri Rotli / Be Padi Rotli / Two Layer Rotli
This is the roti to make if you have too much hunger and very less time. The padvali roti is essentially a simple chapati, however, two dough balls are rolled together to make two thin rotis in one go. In Gujarat, this roti is often eaten in the summer season with aamras. It is said that the technique arose to quickly make rotis and get out of the hot summer kitchen. Here’s how to make this two layered roti.
Maharashtra consists of a variety of Indian Bread, differing both in technique and main ingredient. The drier regions use coarse millets like bajra, while the breads of the coastal region of Konkan belt make use of the finer rice flour. Many breads are contiguous from the neighbouring states like bhakri of Gujarat, or the pav of Goa.
13. Puran Poli
Puran poli is one of the most well-known festive breads of India. Puran poli, also known as Bakshalu in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Obattu in Karnataka and Paruppu Boli in Tamil Nadu, is a festive bread made in Maharashtra. It is like a paratha stuffed with a decadent sweet filling called Puran, made of chana dal, jaggery and spices like nutmeg, cardamom, etc. The roti, called Poli, is made of whole wheat. The puran poli is mostly made during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali. Here the recipe for Puran poli.
Thalipeeth is a healthy savoury flatbread made of a special flour called bhajanee, consisting of roasted grains, legumes and spices. The flour used is mostly a combination of whole wheat, millets and besan. Once the final Thalipeeth is ready, holes are made in it to pour oil in and cook the thick flatbread evenly. Thalipeeth can be enjoyed as a hearty breakfast or a healthy snack. Take a look at this Thalipeeth recipe.
Similar to thalipeeth is the dhapate flatbread. It is made from a spiced dough of whole wheat and millet flours. But the difference lies in the procedure for making dhapate. Dhapate means ‘beating’ in Marathi, and the dough balls are shaped into circular rotis by pressing and patting by hand. The resultant flatbread is much thinner than the thalipeeth. Here’s the recipe for dhapate.
16. Khavyachi Satori / Khava Poli / Satorya
Like puran poli, the satori is a sweet flatbread made for festivals. The dough is made of whole wheat flour and a little besan, and is stuffed with khoya and various flavourings like cardamom.
18. Ladi Pav
Perhaps the most consistent with our idea of breads of India, the soft leavened pav is an important part of the famous street food pav bhaji. The pav looks similar to regular burger buns and uses the same ingredients. However, it uses a different baking method and has more yeast. The resultant bread has bigger holes and is softer. Also, the dough is placed more closely together on the baking tray, so that the pav clusters together in ladi, or slabs, and forms the typical ladi pav cluster of pav with a square base instead of the round bases of pav.
The story about how pav got its name remains an urban folklore. Some say it is because pav is served in bunches of four. That means one pav is one-fourth (pav means one-fourth in marathi). The second folklore is that because the bread needed more leavening, it was kneaded using feet (pav). The third story is that it is derived from the Portuguese word paozinho, which means buns. Here’s the recipe for pav.
19. Ghavan / Ghavane
Ghavan is a simple rice flour pancake from the Konkan region of Maharashtra. It is flavoured with cumin and salt and cooked on a pan. It is similar to the neer dosa of South India, however, the rice used in Ghavan is traditionally brown rice instead of white rice. Here’s how to make Ghavan. Ghavan can also be made of bajra and wheat. Eaten with simple chutneys, it serves as a breakfast dish, but sweeter versions are also available.
Another dosa-like bread from the Konkan region is the Malvani amboli. Amboli is like a thick dosa, rather like an uttapam. Like its southern counterpart, it is a mixture of rice and lentils fermented overnight. However, the rice to lentil ratio is 2:1 instead of the 3:1 in uttapam and dosa batters. The resultant bread is softer and has a pillowy texture. Here’s the recipe!
21. Tandalache Vade / Kombdi Vade / Malvani vade
The tandalache vade is a rice poori which is made in the Konkan belt. It is mixed with urad dal and spices and then fried. The uniqueness is in the shaping of the vade, which is shaped circular by patting gently by hand, instead of hand-rolling. Here’s the recipe for kombdi vade! These crispy breads are enjoyed most commonly with chicken curry.
22. Panagi / Pangi / Panki
This bread uses the most common foliage of the Konkan belt of Maharashtra— the super useful banana leaf. A sweetened dough of rice flour, milk, sugar and ghee is kneaded and shaped into a flat bread. It is then cooked in between the folds of a banana leaf, absorbing its unique flavours and nutrients. The panagi, pangi or panki is eaten with both savoury dishes like channa, and sweet dishes like kheer. Here’s a simple tutorial on how to make them.
23. Lambi Roti
Here’s my favourite roti from Maharashtra, and perhaps my favourite among all the breads of India. The Lambi roti, also known as Randnya roti or Matki roti is a fascinating bread made by the Dalit community of Vidarbha region. It is famous in Nagpur, and is made from a special wheat called lokwan wheat flour, mixed with semolina, water and salt. After kneading the dough and resting it, the dough is slammed against a hard. The process of making lambi roti is a must-watch! Watch it below.
Goa, at least, in my eyes, is the bread capital of India. A result of its past as a Portuguese colony, the bread culture of Goa is a unique aspect which I hope to study in more detail some day. But for now, let’s take a look at the amazing breads of India this wonderful state has to offer.
24. Toddy Pao
This is similar to the Maharashtrian pao. It is said that pao was initially fermented with toddy used by the Portuguese and had a much more intense taste. But nowadays, of course, yeast is used for its uniformity and easier availability. The traditional toddy pao bakers of Goa are now endangered.
25. Undo / Unndo / Ondo / Oondo / Poxe / Pokshie
Much like most of us resilient people, the unndo bread has a soft interior under its hard exterior. Ha!
The unddo is another special yeast-leavened bread from Goa. Traditionally, the starter for this bread is fermented overnight and makes the wheat flour bread very light and deeply flavourful. Because less yeast is used, the shelf life of these breads is longer as compared to other yeast-leavened breads. The buns are baked on the floor of the oven to make the base extra crisp and hard. Here’s how unndo is made.
26. Katre Pao / Katricho Pao / Kannacho Pao / Butterfly Bread
Presenting one of the prettiest breads of India! The names of the bread derives from its distinctive butterfly or bow-shaped appearance. Katre, in Konkan, means scissors, while Kannacho means ears. The Katre pao is also a yeast-leavened bread made of maida flour. It gets its distinctive shape from scissors which are used to cut it into its shape. Here’s the recipe for Katre pao.
27. Kankonn / Bangle Bread / Kaknam Bread
Kankonn is one of its kind among all the breads of India. Kankonn means bangles, and kaknam means ring. The sound of the Kankonn bread would be nostalgic to any Goan. The bangle bread is a tough and crunchy bread eaten during tea time by dipping it into the hot beverage. The amazingly unique bread uses yeast, but is made with very little fat, and is kneaded for a longer time leading to its hard texture. These differences also make it one of the longest-lasting breads in terms of shelf life. Here’s an authentic recipe for kankonn.
28. Poi / Poee / Goan Pita / Cuniachi Poee / Bakri
Much like the Lebanese pita bread, the poee is like a leavened chapati. It contains a mix of refined wheat flour (for texture) and whole wheat flour (for nutrition) and the leavening agent yeast. The risen dough is flattened like a thick roti and baked in the oven. The resultant soft poee bread has a hollow interior. Here’s a recipe for good old poee.
29. Poderacho Bol
Poderacho bol is a sweet bread as big as a plate. It is made of refined wheat flour, cononut, sugar, cardamom powder, ghee and leavened with yeast. The sweet bread is enjoyed during breakfast or tea time. Here’s how it’s made.
30. Fugiya / Fugia / Balloon Bread
This amazing bread is made in special events like marriages and is eaten with popular curries like vindaloo, baffat or sorpotel. A batter of flour, eggs, coconut milk, sugar and yeast is made and allowed to ferment overnight. It is then deep-fried the next day to give rise to the scrumptious balloon bread fugiya. Here’s the mind-boggling technique to making fugiya.
Sindhis migrated from the Sindh region of Pakistan during partition and settled in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. And with them, they brought some very interesting breads and bread-making techniques, some of which are given below.
Available in many flavours, Sindhi koki is a very interesting flatbread known for its texture. The bread is made of a spiced (including pomegranate seeds in some recipes!) dough of wheat flour and gram flour. However, the unique texture is due to the unique technique used in cooking it. The dough is kneaded and rolled as we do while making a regular roti. The raw flatbread is then cooked on a tawa partially. The semi-cooked koki is then crushed into a ball and then rolled out again. It is pricked with a fork for even cooking and this time, it is cooked with ghee to get a proper crispy koki, with a chewy interior and a crisp exterior. Here’s a koki recipe for you.
Sindhi dal pakwaan is a breakfast dish which is one of the most famous dishes of this cuisine. The bread in this famous duo is the pakwaan, a crispy, deep fried all purpose flour poori which is spiced with the digestive ajwain to deal with the overall heaviness of the meal. It is served with channa dal for a royal Sindhi breakfast. The recipe for Sindhi pakwan is here.
33. Sindhi Mitho Lolo / Mithi Loli
This is a sweet and very thick whole wheat paratha where the dough is kneaded with a mix of whole wheat flour, oil and SUGAR SYRUP! Yup, you read it right! This thick bread is enjoyed on festivals with curd or onion pickle. It is an intrinsic part of the Sindhi festival Thadri or Satain. No fire is lit on this festival day, because the Goddess of Cooling, Sheetladevi, is worshipped. Hence, Sindhi mitho lolo is cooked the day before and consumed on Thadri. Here’s the recipe.
34. Choutha / Chauthe
This flatbread is like a festive biscuit made on the festival thadri mentioned above. A dough of whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and semolina is flavoured with cardamom and deep fried. The resultant biscuity bread is divided into four halves before serving, deriving its name of chauthe (meaning one-fourth). Check out the recipe for chauthe.
35. Dhoda / Doda
This is a Sindhi bread made up of rice flour or jowar. Onions, coriander, green chilli is added to rice flour and the dough is kneaded. Sometimes a boiled potato can be used for binding. Traditionally, the dough is shaped into a thick paratha by pressing it by hand. Here’s an easier recipe for Sindhi dhoda.
Parsis are another ethnic group which migrated from Persia, or modern Iran, during its conquest by the Arabs in the 17th Century and settled in Gujarat and Maharashtra. A long period of assimilation has led to Parsi cuisine being a good mix of Gujarati, Marathi, Irani and British flavours. Their most common bread is the rotli, similar to the ubiquitous roti. Apart from that, one richer bread is the Baida roti.
36. Baida Roti
This is a close cousin of West Bengal’s Muglai paratha, and is a flaky maida paratha filled with spicy minced meat and eggs. The most famous baida roti is from the famous eatery Bademiyan in Mumbai. Here’s one recipe of the Parsi Baida Roti.
‘Vohrvu’ is a word in Gujarati language which means trade. This gave rise to the Bohra title given to the Dawoodi Bohra community of traders settled primarily in Gujarat. The Dawoodi Bohra community is said to have migrated to Gujarat in the 12th Century after their dai, or high priest, faced opposition in Yemen. The Bohra community has a unique food culture with its fair share of interesting breads.
Gakhar is a super-rich layered paratha of the Bohri cuisine. Made of whole wheat, it uses a special folding technique and lots of ghee to give multiple layers to this crispy and flaky paratha. Here is a Gakhar recipe.
38. Mithi Shitabi Roti / Gol Roti
The Mithi Shitabi roti or Gol roti is a rich flatbread made of a dough of wheatflour semolina, egg and ghee. It is served with jaggery and is a major part of auspicious days which celebrate and honour Prophet Mohammed’s daughter, Fatema. This is the recipe for Gol roti.
39. Lamba Pav
Eaten famously with delicious kebab, this is a diamond-shaped pav almost half the size of a regular pav. It has a slightly tangy taste which cuts through the rich deep flavours of the kebab. Watch the lam pav recipe in the video above.
40. Manda Roti
Rumali roti is one of the most well-known breads of India. Manda roti is like a wholewheat rumali roti. Like its northern counterpart, it is also cooked on the rounded back of a kadhai. The recipe to this whole wheat rumali roti, manda roti, is here.
And that’s it for the various breads of India from the west Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa. We’ll move on next with Central Indian breads. See you soon!