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Oven Baked Indian Breads

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By Author: Gynanesh
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The bread culture of India may not be as hugely dependent on yeast based leavening like that of the West but is still equally diverse with a huge variety spreading over the entire sub-continent. Indian breads are usually flat and are either oven baked or cooked on a hot griddle or grilled over hot coals or frozen for later use. The most common variety of Indian breads are made with flour, water and salt, then rolled into a soft-dough, sheeted from one millimetre to a few centimetres thick giving the possibility of eating directly without slicing.

Indian oven baked breads are a wide variety of flat breads and crepes which are an integral part of Indian cuisine. Their variation reflects the diversity of Indian culture and food habits.
The ovens used for baking breads in India can be further classified into:

1. Tandoor.
2. Conventional Oven

The oven baked Indian breads are different types like kulcha, Naan, tandoori roti, sheermal etc.
Now let us go through some of the oven baked Indian breads.
Tandoor of the Indian subcontinent is traditionally made of clay and is a bell shaped oven using which a wide variety of breads are produced. The heat in tandoor is generated by charcoal or wood fire, burning with-in the tandoor itself. Thus, exposing the food to live fire, radiant heat cooking and hot air convection cooking and smoking to temperatures as high as 400 degrees centigrade. Few examples of Tandoor baked breads include Naan, Tandoori Roti, Girda, Taftan, Khameeri roti, etc.
Multiple breads of Indian subcontinent are also cooked in a convection oven where the heat is transferred through air circulation. Examples include pav from Maharashtra, Mangalore buns. Few breads that are traditionally baked in a tandoor have also been baked in a convection oven like sheermal.

Tandoori roti is made using whole wheat flour and is handstretched thinly and is cooked in a tandoor.

Naan is a leavened dough (yoghurt) that is cooked in a tandoor. It is made in a teardrop shape. Modern variations of include garlic naan, cheese naan etc.

Kulcha with its origins in Punjab, is made of refined flour, salt and a leavening agent. It is sheeted and baked in a tandoor. Amritsari Kulcha, famous for its crunch is a popular breakfast item in the city of Amritsar. Kulcha can also be stuffed and is usually finished with a topping of butter.

Sheermal is a mildly sweet saffron infused Naan type of a bread which is famous in Hyderabad, eaten traditionally with paya.

Chochwor of Kashmir is a bread that resembles a bagel. It is generously topped with poppy seeds and is sold in bakeries known as Kannurs. It is baked in an Oven that is similar to tandoor and is eaten with salted chai.

Pav consumed in Goa and Mumbai, is a soft, yeast leavened bread made of refined flour. is the result of portugese influence in these regions. Pav bhaji is a famous dish ardently consumed all over Mumbai. Pav is also consumed in other forms like vada pav, usal pav, in the same region

Baqarkhani is the richer version of sheermal, made thinner and then cooked in a tandoor.

With wide sources varying from the Mughals to the Western conquerors, Indians have taken many different types of breads and made it to suit their own culinary preference. This has led to a rise in oven baked breads in India which majorly are of two types. Tandoor and convection based. Their presence is also majorly limited to the Northern region of India.

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