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Indian Bread

By: Elizabeth Hinds - Updated: 5 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Indian Bread Traditional Indian Bread

If you visit India you’ll find that most everyday breads are made with wholemeal flour. Wheat has been cultivated in the sub-continent for about 8,000 years and today’s Indian wheat flour is of a very high quality.

In the UK in Asian groceries, it’s possible to buy chapati flour, which has a comparably fine texture, but, if you can’t find this, you can use an equal mix of white and wholemeal plain flour.

Chapati (flatbread)

  • Chapati Flour or half and half white and wholemeal
  • Water
  • Salt (isn’t used in traditional chapatis but you may like to add a little to taste)
Sieve the flour into a bowl. If using wholemeal, discard the bits of bran left in the sieve. Add water to make a softish dough. Knead it well until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and set aside for an hour.

Knead the dough again and divide into walnut-sized balls. About 4 oz flour will give you 6 balls.

Pre-heat a griddle or thick-based frying pan. Work with 1 ball at a time, keeping the others covered. Roll out the ball to make a circle about 5” diameter. Pat it to remove excess flour then place it on the griddle. Cook, flipping it over a few times, for about 40 seconds.

To make it puff up, take a piece of kitchen towel and screw it up. Using the screwed-up ball, for the last 10 seconds or so of cooking, press down all over on the chapatti surface in quick succession.

Alternatively, finish cooking the chapatti and then zap in the microwave until puffed up. When cooked wrap in a tea-towel, under a plate, to keep warm. Chapatis are best eaten as soon as possible. Spread with a little butter if desired. Chapatis may be used in place of cutlery. Tear pieces off and use to wrap around or scoop up the food.

Naans are traditionally baked in a tandoor (clay oven). The flattened piece of dough is slapped onto the side of the oven and cooks at a very high temperature. As most of us don’t have tandoors at home we have to adapt what we do have.

Naan (leavened bread)

  • 1 packet quick acting yeast
  • 1 cup hand-hot water
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lb 2 oz plain white bread flour
  • Butter, melted
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the sugar, milk, egg and water. Stir then sprinkle on the yeast and mix until you have a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough back in the bowl, cover and leave in w arm spot until doubled in size. This could take 1 hour or more, depending on the temperature.

Turn the dough out again onto a floured surface and knead thoroughly. Break the dough into pieces (handfuls) and roll into balls. Place on a well-oiled baking tray, flatten slightly, cover and leave to rise again.

When the balls have doubled in size, it’s time to cook them. Melt some butter and dip your palms in it. Dip the bottom of the naan in flour, then press down to flatten and enlarge it, shaping it as you do so into the traditional tear shape. Pre-heat the grill and a heavy-based frying pan.

When you have the naan the shape you want, dab some more melted butter all over it before placing in the frying pan. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Dab some more butter over the naan then place under the grill for a few more minutes.

Wrap in a tea-towel to keep warm. The naans can be stored, wrapped in foil in the fridge. Reheat in the oven, 190oC, gas mark 5, for 15 minutes.

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