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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


Bakarkhani is a spongy, thick, round bread that has its origins in ethnic Muslim cuisine. Made with leavened flour, mawa and eggs, it is baked in an oven and is usually eaten with mutton dishes such as Nihari or Korma. The preperation process is quite time consuming as the dough needs to be kneaded for hours then rolled out and folded over (with clarified butter and flour sprinkled on every fold) several times before it is ready. When the dough is ready, it is rolled into disc about a centimeter thick and 4 to 5 inches in diameter. These are then sprinkled with sesame seeds and baked. While baking they are basted twice with whole milk. The texture of Bakarkhani can be a bit dry at times, however, considering it is eaten with curries in most part, this feature actually helps soak up and retain flavor while eating.

This bread too has a Kashmiri variation called the Katlam. The only difference is in the size, where the Kashmiri version is usually smaller and crisper than its mainline cousin. Like many Kashmiri breads, it is eaten with hot tea.


The Bhati is quite unlike any other Indian bread. Predominantly eaten in the state of Rajasthan, Bhatis are made with unleavened wholemeal flour dough into which a little salt and clarified butter have been mixed. The dough is shaped into small balls and baked in a moderately hot oven until brown on the outside and soft on the inside. Bhatis are traditionally served in a container that is then filled with clarified butter. They are eaten after being allowed to soak for a while.

Tel Varu

This bread is Kashmiri in origin. Tel Varu closely resembles a bun and is sprinkled with sesame seeds on the crust, which is quite crisp. Slightly salty in taste, it is made with normal bread dough – really a local variation of bread as we all know and love. Tel Varu is usually eaten with Sheer Chai, which is salty Kashmiri tea.