From the Roti/Chapati section on the menu card, to the Breads section, our restaurants (and in the process our awareness and preferences) have come a long way. Lately, with increasing awareness about food and travel on social media and otherwise, we hear a lot about the various types of breads, especially the flat breads. A flat bread is made of the usual ingredients—water, salt and flour. The mix of ingredients is then rolled into a flat dough, which is then baked as bread. Wicked Spoon confessions gives an insight on some of such flat breads made across the world.
1. Roti/Fulka/Chapati, India: Of course, this would not be new for most you our readers. This humble bread is made on a traditional hot plate called a tava. A tortilla like bread, this is a part of the staple food, especially in north and central India. The roti is accompanied with curd, cooked veggies and curries and can be eaten in any meal of the day.
2. Msemmen/Mesamen, Algeria: This flatbread is made with semolina or white flour. The bread, usually served in breakfast, is layered with melted butter and accompanies a hot cup of coffee or tea. The pancake-like bread can be stuffed with a variety of condiments, vegetables and also with meat.
3. Torta Sul Testo, Italy: The bread from one of the most romantic countries of the world is also considered as one of the first breads to have been baked. An authentic torta sul testo is baked on earthenware (utensils made of clay and mud) and can be stuffed with leafy greens like spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli etc. You can also serve it with the hard Italian specialty cheese, Pecorino or just with some green olives.
4. Pita, Greece: Pita is considered the most famous and the most popular of all flatbreads around the world. In addition to being popular in Greece, the bread is in high demand in Lebanon, Syria and many other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. Although a flat bread, pita gets puffed up in the oven and is usually used as a scoop for hummus or falafel.
5. Naan, India/Pakistan: Another popular delight from the Indian subcontinent is the Naan. This puffed flat bread is common across India and Pakistan and even across Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Made with white flour, naan is commonly eaten in lunch or dinner with curries or cooked lentils and vegetables. It is also gaining popularity in the American and European food circuit because of the huge desi diaspora present there. The naan is baked as a large-sized bread and is cut in 2 or 3 parts when served. This flat bread is known to have been served to the royalty during the 14th century. It is usually brushed with butter and garnished with coriander for a delightful taste.
6. Focaccia, Italy: Another gem from Italy is the Focaccia bread. This is similar in look and texture to a pizza base and topped with numerous herbs, spices and veggies, such as thyme, parsley, pepper, rosemary, capsicum, tomato and olives. However, a pizza base is much flatter than the focaccia bread. The main ingredients in focaccia is high-gluten flour, salt, water and yeast. The dough is buttered with olive oil before baking. Focaccia also has a sweet variant, where the sugar is sprinkled on top of the bread. The topping may also include raisins to make the bread sweet. This variant is known as “Sweet Focaccia”.
7. Crumpet, UK: England’s has its own favourite flatbread, the crumpet. These fancy flatbreads are made of flour and yeast and usually served during tea time along with cream and jam or a spread of butter. These look like small pan cakes and have a chewy, spongy texture with small holes on top.
8. Injera, Ethiopia: Teff is Ethiopia’s staple food and injera is a flatbread made from Teff, thereby, making it the staple flatbread. Injera has a lot of holes on its surface and similar to a roti in India, it is eaten in lunch or dinner along and is used to scoop up cooked vegetables and curries. The bread can also be stuffed with dry but cooked vegetables or salad to make an injera roll.
9. Lefse, Norway: This interesting flatbread is made of mashed potato flour, butter, milk or cream and is cooked on a griddle (flat hot plate). Lefse is served with butter and cinnamon sugar, thus giving doughnuts a run for the money. It looks similar to a tortilla in form and shape and is usually preferred to be as thin as possible.
10. Gozleme, Turkey: This Turkish delight is a flat bread that is usually stuffed with nutritious food, such as eggs and butter, feta cheese, lamb meat, fish, spinach, onions and potatoes. Goz in Turkish means a pocket or a pouch. The flat bread derives its name from goz because of the pouch in the flat bread which is filled with the stuffing and sealed and cooked. Gozleme can be served either as a flat bread or a roll with further stuffings within.
There are many more flatbreads from across the world and even naming them in one place is not possible, let alone describing. Further, all flatbreads have regional variations depending on culinary habits of each region. However, with this knowledge and the descriptions of a few flatbreads above, at least you won’t be clueless the next time you read through the Breads section of a multi-cuisine restaurant. Hopefully, you will now call for a bread that you know about the next time you dine out. :)