From Roti To Appam: The Diversity Of Indian Bread Basket

Bread plays a significant role in Indian cuisine as an essential accompaniment to a wide variety of curries and dishes. Various types of bread are cherished across the diverse regions of India, each with its own unique taste, texture, and preparation method. Roti and chapati, made from whole wheat flour, are dietary staples in almost every Indian household. They provide a simple yet essential accompaniment to a wide array of curries, vegetables, and dals and provide a balanced and nutritious meal. 

Breads add a crucial textural contrast, offering a balance to the spiciness and flavours of the main courses. Additionally, they are often used to wrap and enjoy delicious fillings in street food like kebabs and kathi rolls. The presence of bread elevates the Indian dining experience, making it wholesome and satisfying.  

There are several bread options that Indian cuisine has to offer. Here are 10 varieties of Indian breads:

Roti or Chapati  

Roti, or chapati, holds immense importance as a staple in Indian cuisine and daily life. These simple flatbreads, made from whole wheat flour, are not just a dietary necessity but a cultural symbol of sustenance and tradition. They are at the core of Indian meals, providing a wholesome and nutritious accompaniment to a wide range of curries, vegetables, and dals. The process of making roti, from kneading the dough to cooking it on a hot griddle, is a skill passed down through generations, fostering a strong sense of familial and cultural connection. 

Bajre Ka Rotla 

Bajre ka rotla, a traditional flatbread made from pearl millet flour, holds significant cultural and nutritional importance, particularly in regions like Gujarat and Rajasthan. Culturally, it represents a deep connection to the land and heritage, as pearl millet has been a drought-resistant staple crop in arid regions for centuries. The process of making these rotlas involves hand-rolling the dough and cooking it on an open flame, reflecting the skills and traditions of the region.

Nutritionally, bajre ka rotla is a powerhouse of health benefits. Pearl millet is rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, making these rotlas an excellent source of energy and essential nutrients, especially in areas where other grains may be scarce. They are gluten-free and have a lower glycemic index, making them suitable for individuals with dietary restrictions or diabetes.  


Parathas are a beloved and versatile type of Indian flatbread that holds a special place in Indian cuisine and culture. Made from wheat dough, they are rolled out, stuffed with a variety of delicious fillings like spiced potatoes, paneer, grated radish, cauliflower, or even onions, and then pan-fried to golden perfection.

Parathas are not just a staple food but a culinary art form, with each region and household having its own unique recipes and variations. They are a symbol of comfort and satiety, often served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and accompanied by chutneys, yoghurt, or pickles. They are a vital and cherished part of Indian culture and daily life. 


Naan, a soft and pillowy flatbread, is a culinary creation celebrated for its versatility, rich flavour, and widespread popularity. To prepare naan, a dough is crafted from all-purpose flour, yoghurt, and a leavening agent and traditionally left to ferment for hours, imparting its characteristic airy texture. The dough is then either rolled out or shaped by hand into thin rounds, which are cooked in a tandoor clay oven, resulting in a slightly charred and blistered exterior.

Naan can be enjoyed plain or customised with various toppings like garlic, butter, herbs, or seeds, adding layers of taste and aroma. Naan can even be adorned with stuffings like aloo, gobhi, or paneer. Its ability to complement a wide range of dishes, from spicy curries to grilled meats, makes naan an integral part of Indian cuisine and a beloved staple on tables worldwide. Its adaptability and the option to personalise its flavour profile contribute to its enduring popularity among food enthusiasts. 


Puri is a deep-fried bread made from wheat dough. It is not only a delicious and versatile food item but also holds deep cultural and spiritual significance in India. Puri is often offered to deities in temples and homes as part of religious rituals, symbolising devotion and purity. It is a key component of prasad, the sacred food offered to gods during religious ceremonies, and is distributed to devotees as a blessed offering. In traditional Indian sacred meals, such as those served in temples and during festivals, puris are an integral part. Puri can be paired with a variety of things like chole, aamras, kheer, halwa, or the very famous aloo puri. 

Rumali Roti  

Rumali roti, a thin and soft flatbread with a paper-thin appearance, has its origins in the Indian subcontinent, specifically in the northern regions. It is said to have originated in the Mughal era and is closely associated with the cuisine of North India, particularly in places like Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. To craft these delicate, paper-thin flatbreads, skilled chefs engage in a mesmerising process that starts with a ball of soft dough. The dough is meticulously rolled out into a large disc, after which it's placed on a hot griddle or inverted tava.  

Here's where the magic happens: the chef skillfully stretches and twirls the dough in mid-air, coaxing it into an incredibly thin, translucent sheet that resembles a delicate handkerchief. This impressive technique requires precision, finesse, and years of practice. The result is not just a flatbread but a work of edible art, so thin you can almost see through it, making the process of creating rumali roti both a culinary spectacle and a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of Indian chefs. Rumali roti is typically had with kathi kebabs or shawarmas, letting their bursting flavours dominate. 

Lachha Paratha  

Lachha paratha is a unique and visually stunning Indian flatbread that stands out for its distinct texture. What sets it apart is its intricate layering technique, where the dough is repeatedly folded and rolled, creating numerous thin layers within the bread. This process results in a paratha with a flaky, almost pastry-like texture with crispy, golden-brown edges and soft, tender layers on the inside.

When cooked, the layers separate, resembling the pages of a book, giving lachha paratha its name ("lachha" means layered). Its combination of crispiness and softness, along with the butter or ghee-infused layers, makes it a must-try bread that pairs beautifully with a variety of north Indian dals, curries, and chutneys like dal makhani, shahi paneer, dal tadka, and many more. 

Malabar Parotta  

Malabar parotta, also known as Kerala parotta or simply parotta, is a south Indian flatbread that is renowned for its unique preparation method. To make this flaky and layered bread, chefs start by mixing all-purpose flour with a pinch of salt and kneading it into a soft, smooth dough using water. The dough is then divided into small portions and rolled out thinly into individual discs.

What makes the cooking method fascinating is the process of folding and pleating the thinly rolled dough into layers, somewhat like folding a paper fan or an accordion. These layered dough portions are then shallow-fried on a hot griddle with ghee or oil until they puff up, turn golden brown, and develop crispy, flaky layers. The result is a mouthwatering, slightly crispy on the outside yet soft and layered on the inside bread that pairs wonderfully with a wide range of south Indian curries and gravies. 


Sheermal is known for its opulent ingredients, which include saffron-infused milk, ghee, sugar, and sometimes ground nuts or seeds. These luxurious components give sheermal its golden hue and a slightly sweet, aromatic flavour profile. Traditionally prepared during special occasions and festive celebrations, sheermal is often associated with the Mughlai and Awadhi cuisines of North India.

It is typically served as a sweet accompaniment, pairing beautifully with rich gravies like nihari or kebabs, and can also be enjoyed with a cup of chai as a delightful snack. This bread is not just a culinary delight; it represents the depth of tradition and the fusion of cultures that have shaped India's diverse and flavourful culinary landscape. 


Appam, a beloved South Indian pancake, has a rich history and origins that trace back to the coastal regions of Kerala. This unique dish is characterised by its lacy, crispy edges and soft, spongy centre, achieved through a fermentation process involving rice batter and coconut milk. Traditionally made using a special curved pan known as an "appachatti," the batter is poured into the pan, and the appam is cooked with a lid, allowing the edges to become beautifully crisp while maintaining a tender, fluffy interior.

Appam's accompaniments vary, but it is most commonly enjoyed with a variety of side dishes. The classic pairing is with coconut milk, sugar, or jaggery, creating a sweet and creamy contrast to the slightly tangy and airy appam. It also pairs well with savoury options like vegetable stew or a spicy coconut chutney.