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Your Guide to North Indian Bread

Your Guide to North Indian Bread

Kulcha bread, one type of North Indian bread (photo by Creative Commons user Jasonlam)

Sid Khullar | Chef's Blade

Lachha Paratha

A Lachha Paratha is composed of many layers – many more than a normal paratha. Also, the layers here are horizontal as well as vertical, as opposed to only vertical in a normal Paratha. This is made by rolling out a Roti, spreading oil or ghee on the surface and then cutting it into strips. These strips are place one on top of the other and holding the pile by both ends, twisted into a roundish shape. This is then rolled flat and cooked on a griddle. Another way of making this is to make a long cylindrical shape with the dough, coating it with oil and starting from one end, making it into a wheel shape with concentric circles. As with technique #1, this is then rolled flat and cooked on a hot griddle, or in a Tandoor.

In the context of Muslim cuisine, this is also known as a Warqui Paratha, where Warqui means ‘leaves’ and is similar to the word Warq, which refers to the beaten silver or gold sheets that are used to decorate sweets.

Roomali Roti

This is more of a technique than a recipe. Literally translated ‘Roomal’ means ‘Handkerchief’ and the Roomali Roti is just that. A very soft, thin and large bread that folds and bends just like cloth. While it can be eaten with just about anything, it is a particular favorite when it comes to making rolls or wraps.


Cheela is a variant of the Roti that is made with gram flour instead of the normal wholemeal wheat flour. However, unlike the humble Roti, there’s considerable scope for creativity here. Various additions can be made to the basic gram flour mixture like finely chopped onions, green chilli, coriander and just about anything else that has been well drained, like the outer flesh of tomatoes for example. The Cheela is also quite well seasoned, usually with Ajowan (carom, ajwain, or bishop’s weed), powdered black pepper, red chilli powder and coriander powder (dhania). After mixing everything together with a little water to make the dough, Cheelas are cooking just like Parathas, on a hot, flat griddle, brushing each side with a little oil before turning over.


The Kulcha is a variety of baked flat bread that is made using refined flour. It is leavened with baking powder and active, whole milk yoghurt. It can be eaten as is or lightly toasted in a pan or toaster. It tastes slightly sour and is sometimes garnished with chopped coriander leaves on top. Kulchas are usually eaten with a chickpea curry and are also good with Indian pickles for breakfast.

Another variant is the Kashmiri Kulcha. Made with a dough that is quite similar to the one used for Tel Varu, the Kashmiri Kulcha is quite different from the normal Kulcha. While the normal Kulcha is slightly sour tasting and quite soft, the Kashmiri Kulcha is quite crisp and rusk-like. It comes in two flavors – sweet and salty with a spot of cumin seed. The Kashmiri Kulcha too is normally eaten with tea – Sheer Chai, Kahwa or normal tea.

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