We’ve already covered rice. The other staple of Indian food is the variety of breads available at breakfast, lunch, dinner and every meal in between. Heading with the misses for Indian food for the first time? Confused on what to order? Don’t worry, I’ve tried them all and hear are my favorites.
Thats right, the Indian bread everyone knows is a middling representation of Indian cuisine. Ok its not really bad, in fact a well made naan or garlic naan can be amazing. But to the Indian bread’s main functionality is not as a stand alone dish but as a delivery mechanism for the other incredibly flavorful dishes you’re bound to be eating. And the relative thickness of naan compared to other breads makes it slighlty inferior Also a poorly made Naan seems to dry out more often than the other breads.
Traditionally served as a standalone dish with one accompaniment such as chutney or potato curry, the paratha takes the whole-wheat character of the chapathi with a little additional heft. It’s thicker, so it works better as a snack of breakfast food as opposed to a thali portion. Generally a little greasier than other indian breads, eating a paratha helps you understand why Indians, despite their vegetarian leanings, have big bellies. It’s not just the pregnancies.
The most simple of all the breads and thus the most functional. A well-made chapathi, like a well made tortilla from your favorite Mexican food truck, can be eaten solo, or with a little bit of ghee (Indian clarified butter.) The right mixture of moisture and flakiness is key. The chapathi should seperate into tasty flakes without seeming dry.
As a tiffin (Indian snack session,) you can easily add some chutney to a chapathi for a more flavorful meal. Again, Indians make chutneys out of everything– my personal favorites being peanut chutney, tomato chutney and gooseberry chutney. I have no idea what a gooseberry is but its delcious. Chapathis also have functionality outside of Indian cuisine. Just last week, I used chapathis as a pita replacement with some leftover gyro ingredients and the results were delicious. No doubt they would also function well as part of a burrito or fajita offering.
And of course chapathis make great accompaniments to any full Indian dinner. Their increased flexibility over naan makes it slightly easier to tear up a piece of chapathi and squeeze the maximum amount of palek paneer or aloo chole into a ball and pop it into your mouth. As opposed to naan, where you end up piliing the food on top, you can be more efficient with your chapathi. Yet another reason it’s a great Indian bread.
Technically not a bread at all! Dosa is made of a mix of lentils and rice flour, so there is no wheat flour. But you know what, screw it, I’m an outcome person, not a purist and the dosa functions basically the same as other Indian breads. A breakfast speciality dosa are tradtionally served with a potato “masala” and a side of sambar, a spicy indian soup/sauce. This dosa, from a famous dosa shop in Bangalore, was probably the best thing I ate in India.
Look at how epic that thing is. Glistening in butter, you just scoop a large piece of that for the perfect savory, tangy mix, a crispier, lighter pancake. You mix in some spicy potato mix for additional flavor or dip it into some sambar for appropriate heartiness. All this combines to also make dosas one of the greatest hangover foods of all time, along with fried chicken and jian bing.
You’ve already read me wax poetic over chapathi. Let’s say you took some chapathi dough and were trying to make it even more unhealthy and delcious. What would you do? Why you’d cut the dough into little circles and then deep fry it in ghee. The deep frying process would cause the dough to expand as air gets trapped within the dough and heats up. The resulting puffed out bread would be called a poori and simply the most delicious bread on the planet. You can even make giant pooris, known as bhatooras, and serve them with chole for a fattening Indian lunch.
All the greatness of the chapathi, but deep-fried. What more can I say?