Indian breads

I love Indian food. Because I grew up in a small town, I never tried it until I was 18 or 19, when I went to college and joined our Hindu Student's Association--we'd go out for Indian food as a group on our occasional mandir visits, and we'd have it for every event we hosted. My friends in the group introduced me to different kinds of Indian food, and I loved it all. I was already vegan at that point, and it is such a vegan-friendly cuisine--when I lived in London, and later when I went to Ireland, I ate a LOT of Indian food because that was often the best option for me there.

And then, by the time I was 22, I developed my full-blown nightshade allergies, rendering Indian food among my greatest culinary enemies. Indian food that doesn't contain hot peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant is very hard to find! Especially since most Indian spice mixes involve cayenne or hot pepper of some sort. (Do you know what my FAVORITE Indian dish used to be? Baigan bharta, which is spicy eggplant in tomato sauce. All nightshades!!! I miss it.)

So I can't go out for Indian food anymore. But I can--and do--adapt some of my favorite recipes for myself at home. I make my own curry powder , and I make a lot of chana and chole dishes (because of my love for chickpeas). Many recipes are easy to adapt to nightshade free cooking just by leaving out the hot peppers.

But I miss the breads. Warm, oily breads right from the oven or fryer--those are much harder to replicate at home than curry or rice.

But I live for a challenge! Here are some Indian breads I have made at home!

Naan is the usual bread you get at Indian restaurants; it's a soft, flat, oven-baked bread. Most recipes call for yogurt, so it's rarely vegan. Definitely one advantage to making it at home!
Served here with homemade dal, a tamarind sauce, and fruit. I didn't use a specific recipe for it; I just googled "naan recipe" and read a bunch of the results, then took the amounts and techniques that appeared most often across all the recipes. It took a bit of time to make (since the dough sits over night), but surprisingly little work. I'll definitely make it again!

Bhatura was a bit more of a challenge for me, since it involves deep frying and I'd never had it before, so I didn't know if I'd gotten it right at first. It's a soft, delicious bread, with a slightly crispy outside because it's fried.
I got the recipe from the Cookery Corner blog. I went with all all-purpose flour, and used soy yogurt in place of the regular yogurt. It also takes some time (has to sit for at least 4 hours), but it is such a delicious recipe.
Because I don't like to deep fry (more for reasons of mess than of health), this is a special occasion food, but ohhhh my goodness, it does indeed make an occasion special. This is now my favorite Indian bread.

Next up, Paratha! If you've never had paratha before, it's basically a whole-wheat tortilla with a little more oil. (I think it's the same thing as Roti. I can't tell the difference, anyway, but maybe I am a philistine for thinking this?) It's quite good, and I've made it plain a couple times, but the real reason I'd got through the effort of making paratha is to stuff it! You can stuff it with any number of fillings, and it's always excellent.

For the dough, I use a recipe out of Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine cookbook. You can find it online on A Cook at Heart's blog. (I used canola oil for the ghee, by the way, and like the blog writer, didn't use a full 1/2 cup in the dough. I think I used 1/3?) I made up my own filling--it's sauteed onions, spinach, and garam masala.
I know this picture is badly lit, but I like that you can see the whole process: the empty-rolled out dough, the bottom layer with the filling on it, my filling pan, a bag of flour, the rolling pin--it tells you everything you need to know! Hee. The next step is to put it in a well-oiled pan over medium heat, then brush oil over the top.
The sides cook pretty quickly; a couple minutes on each side. Then it's ready to eat!

Finally, though Pappadum isn't really a bread, and I didn't actually cook it so much as heat it up, pappadum is one of the other things I miss about Indian restaurants. So crispy and light! And perfect to dip into the sauces they always have at the table (ohhhh do I ever miss that oniony sauce, and the tamarind sauce...).
Pappadum, with an omelet (from Vegan Brunch) and sweet potatoes. These come in a box, and all you have to do is fry them or heat them over an open flame. I think you can microwave them, too, but I don't have a microwave. Though there are many different brands that are all good, I like this brand (Sharwood's), because they're very plain--no suspicious "spices," which, because this is Indian food, inevitably means hot pepper of some sort.

Those of you who aren't nightshade-free can probably get many of these things already at Indian restaurants, but I do have to say that it feels awesome to make them yourself, too. I recommend trying it! (And then you'll feel even more grateful when you order them out, because you'll know how much work went into the awesome food in front of you.)


Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Could you please share some of your favorite dal, channa or chole recipes? What you have pictured looks so good!

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

@Anonymous--Sure, I'll do that sometime soon! In the meantime, I've made a lot of awesome-tasting food from the Lord Krishna's Cuisine cookbook. Definitely check out that book (from the library first if you want to see if you like it) for recipes for all sorts of Indian recipes!