1) Dosa - Crepe made from fermented lentil & rice paste
2) Appam - Rice pancake
3) Iddiappam - Steamed rice noodles.
None of these are anywhere close to the traditional Bread as we know them.
Dosa, Appam, and Idiappam are breads, even though even in South India, if you ask for "bread" from your local grocer, they'd give you sliced loaves. We use the word bread to refer to these other staple breakfast dishes in an anglicized context, because it maps better than any other word to the meaning we want to convey. Which is why restaurant menus categorizes them under "Indian Breads", and if you accept that language is mutable and responds to how people use it, this is as good an alternative meaning as it can get.
Love it! Spoken like a true engineer :)
The process of Baking is what makes a Bread a bread. If it's not baked in an oven, it's not Bread. I didn't make that up, that what has defined a Bread since the beginning of time :)
Dosa is fried on a stovetop pan. Appam is cooked on a stovetop pan. Iddiappam is steamed on stovetop using water. None of these are baked at any time in the process.
A bread is a solid stable foam created by heating a dough made primarily of milled plant matter and water. There are no breads that aren't foams, and there are no breads I'm aware of that made primarily of something that isn't plant matter or that hasn't been crushed or otherwise processed to create a homogenous dough with a water-based liquid.
So Matzo is what? It's unquestionably bread, yet is not a foam.
And your definition is too broad - what about a pancake?
Pancakes are quickbreads!
Because when I break off a piece and look at it it doesn't look like a foam. (Note I mean the handmade stuff, not the lightweight, cooked at a lower temperature, machine made version, which is admittedly kinda of foamy.)
But, if you consider that to be a foam, I have to ask: What cooked until mostly dry, flour/water product isn't a foam? i.e. saying "foam" doesn't actually add any additional info.
> Pancakes are quickbreads!
Well, in that case we can simplify the definition: Bread is flour plus liquid cooked until mostly dry. Flour is defined very broadly, as is liquid (for example shortening is a liquid by this definition).
The most common Indian bread, the roti, is not a foam. It's a very flat bread made of wheat flour and water with no internal structure.
The most obvious foam structure we think about with bread are the big bubbles inside a sourdough or tuscan loaf. But the foam that, say, Harold McGee is thinking about when he describes bread as foam is occurring at a smaller scale.
A communion wafer, for instance, is indisputably bread --- extremely thin, with no discernible internal structure --- but it's also basically a very thin slice of styrofoam.
(When you make roti, it usually expands like a balloon during the cooking process.)
Another engineer I'd bet :-)
As you can see, my definition of bread is functional --- it's about how the bread is constructed and how it behaves as a final product. But there are other valid definitions of bread that capture things like the setting in which they're consumed --- maybe the default for things consumed in a pastry setting shouldn't be "bread", even when the product is a culinary foam made of a dough (but then you run into trouble with sweetened breads eaten as desserts!).
I'm fine with those definitions too, but would note that they rule out none of these indian breads. I'm pushing the functional definition because the parent commenter tried to rule out dosas based on a functional definition, and that functional definition was incorrect.
(There are obviously exceptions for "cakes" that are really set custards and things like that. But birthday cake isn't such an exception.)
So, yes, a birthday cake is a special type of highly decorated, sweet "bread". Or you can take a leaf from the Swedish/Finnish book and have a savoury cake:
If you find it hard to believe, it helps to know there are many varieties of pizza in Italy that do not include tomato sauce (pizza bianca). For example, quatro formaggi is often without sauce. But the plainer pizze bianche are actually similar to focaccia, which is a cousin of the world famous pizza, and indisputably bread.
So at what point along the focaccia - pizza continuum does the dish become un-bread? At the addition of tomato sauce? Then how come is quatro formaggi so often served in pizzerias? At the addition of cheese? Marinara, one of the most classical of all pizzas, is defined by its lack of milk-based ingredients (which do not preserve at sea, hence the name.)
Clearly, pizza, too, is bread.
Stop looking for precision in words. If you want to talk about "things that are baked in an oven" then say that.
Says who? The dictionary? It can change. You forget that language is a social construct, and like it or not, India is a country of a billion people with a different cultural context and we're going to make words up, or overload new meanings to existing words. And there is nothing you can do about it. That's how language works. You could claim ownership over it and try to dictate and browbeat alternate usages, but come to India, and try telling them that Appam is not a Bread, they'll tell you "of course not, Appam is an Indian Bread".
ALWAYS thought of all these as Indian breads. So does everyone else. For example, look at the menu of a famous Indian restaurant: https://www.zomato.com/ncr/bukhara-itc-maurya-chanakyapuri-n...
There are countless other menus on that site that do the same.
The article gets it absolutely correct.
NEVER thought of dosas, idlis, idiyappam, uthappam, etc. as a "bread".
Edit: basically, India doesn't have a particularly big tradition of oven baking, so by a definition of "bread must be baked" you're gonna have a lot of things that aren't bread.
Most people I know would call English muffins a bread product.
It's not. Americans have a strangely funny way of naming things. Only in America would you find "Orange Juice" that would say in the ingredients. "Contains no juice. Artifically flavored and coloured."
English muffins are baked goods, not breads.
Skillet bread, on the other hand, is bread, as are english muffins.
I would be very, very weirded out if someone handed me bread and it does not contain ground grain.
The only thing people use the English word "bread" in India for is the sliced white bread that you can find in any store in the US or Europe. All the other words are mentioned by the article. Also, as the article clearly states, the author, for the purposes of the article, counts the following things as breads:
> It would be virtually impossible to capture the full diversity of India’s breads ... or even to say what, in India, counts as bread. But here we’ve given it a go. I went about it like this: if it’s starchy and used as a utensil, it’s bread.
At this point, it's more of a question of "foamy thing", unrelated to the rich history of cooking flour with water (and maybe some salt).
And I make moong bean roti myself.
I feel this is all a bit "we call these things bread" is like "we call these things fruit and these things vegetables" and then someone says "but what about bananas and cucumbers and strawberries" so we have to introduce "culinary fruits vs botanical fruits vs berries"
Which is not to say that whatever people speak doesn't have a word that's a superset of "bread", but it's certainly a much less useful, descriptive, and precise word.
In fact, the ONLY alternative definition of "bread" in english is actually "sweetbread" which, ironically, seems to be meat-based rather than derived from the word "bread".
That description is at least somewhat subjective. I would say Indians in India tend to eat roti (tandoori roti) as much as naan, and plain roti and chapati even more (the latter two are considered home foods, so not seen much at restaurants). Naan tends to have a slightly higher-end image (IMO/IME) and I've seen foreigners in India tending to order naan more often than rotis (particularly garlic naan, which seems to be a favorite of many). My guess it that it has been marketed to them more than tandoori rotis in the glossy magazines. on planes, etc., plus it might be/look more close to some Western breads (e.g. garlic bread like garlic naan, also the shape of naan is a bit like a French bread, maybe), so a bit more familiar to them.
But in India plenty of people eat and relish tandoori rotis, plain rotis (which are roasted on a tava in the house, not an outdoor tandoor), and chapatis (thinner version of plain rotis, but also allowed to quickly puff up on the open flame after roasting on tava). IMO tandoori roti tastes better than naan, which is made of maida (refined wheat flour).
And all of the above taste pretty good in slightly differing ways (though all except naan are made of whole-wheat flour).
particularly with an alu matar or matar paneer or a dal tadka :)
Were you thinking of "flour, water, and leavening"? Flour is any grain processed so as to make breadmaking easier. All these recipes include water. There are hundreds of different unleavened breads, and many of these breads are yeast-leavened.
Crepes and pancakes are (usually) quickbreads. A Chinese scallion pancake might not fit that bill (and might not be a quickbread), but Dosas clearly do.
The article carefully explains why naan isn't included: it's not an Indian bread. Naan is a staple throughout central Asia, which is where India imported it from.
The Sean name was my Dad's idea and I thank him for it. He didn't want me to get ragged and bullied for having a long name like 'Apu Nahasapeemapetilon'.
Lots of breads have no salt --- Tuscan, for instance --- but I think most Indian breads do.
All breads have some kind of "flour" (which again is just any plant substance processed to make it easy to make a dough out of) and some water-based liquid.
Not all breads are baked! Lots of them are griddled, including several Indian breads that nobody is contesting the bread-y-ness of, and lots of cultures have fried breads (bannock bread for instance). I think the only commonality of bread cooking techniques is that they're all dry-heat cooked... but then you get to Chinese bao and you have to wonder about that too.
Like I said, Americans like things 'dumbed down', so anything and everthing that is round and made with dough is called "____ Bread"
Pita is obviously bread. Even your definition, which requires "baking in an oven", covers pita. If pita isn't bread, neither is naan --- at which point we've reached a pretty silly place of defining one of the world's most popular breads as "not bread".
I'm mostly with you as to bread (and certainly as to "pita is bread"), but I feel like noodles are generally not considered bread, despite being made from dough.
* They're often made from dough that is identical to bread dough (perhaps minus the leavening)
* They're cooked wet (which is why they don't leaven themselves) --- but then so are bagels and pretzels!
I'm guessing the reason will go back to the original purpose of bread, which was to create a portable, palatable, readily accessible foodstuff from grain. Without bread, the only straightforward way to eat grains is porridge. So bread can (and I think maybe always is?) eaten out of hand, and is cooked often well in advance of consumption.
I tend to think that they're not considered "bread" for two reasons:
- Their form factor is not appropriate for the concept "bread".
- They don't contain perceptible air bubbles.
Really, it's mainly the first one.
Two categories can be, um, vocabularily distinguished for pretty arbitrary reasons. Noodles are just a case of the same thing from a nutritional perspective leaving the prototype for the "bread" concept far enough behind that they're perceived differently.
You're going to have a tough time explaining tyropita.
For me, it's a major detractor from something that could have been a great resource. I would love to know more about the breads of the world.
In 1984 I was in Sri Lanka as the civil war was gearing up. It was a rather exciting time, and not in the good sense of "exciting. From there I flew up to Delhi to stay with my auntie and uncle. Our entire dinner table conversation the night I arrived was the following:
Uncle: "You were in Sri Lanka?"
Uncle: "Sinhalese?" (the Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka)
Uncle: "Huh. Rice eaters."
Spices used were different too - the southern cuisines had spices catered to warmer weather while in cities like Beijing the spices cater more to colder weather. I found that interesting.
Aside: I wasn't in India in 1984 but recall being glued to the BBC world service after it happened. Crazy times
Speaking of, does anyone else think that an axis is something things rotate around, and thus that a north-south axis would divide the country into East & West?
I'll admit, though, that the best naan I've had (and I've had a lot...) was at an Afghan place I used to frequent in the basement of Sim Lim Square, rather than at any Indian restaurant.
After visiting Shenzhen and Huaqiang Bei this year I have to reconsider my future pilgrimage site.
I wish I had spent some time in the food courts though.
Now... "put some yogurt, milk, water, AP flour and X,Y,Z in a cast-iron pan and fry it"? Yes that I can handle...and will probably come back to.
I guess I've never found the right "bridge" to Indian cooking... any links would be helpful.
As for curries, they're a little tricky to do traditionally (ask me about burning whole spices in oil!), but you can make plenty delicious "American-style" Indian food in a crock pot. One of our favorites is crock pot chicken tikka, google it.
A trick my wife showed me that has sort of changed my life is that you can roll it out between two silpats to get it very thin without having it stick to the roller.
I would like to add another one in the list, `bajra roti`, which is eaten in state of Rajasthan. It's made by millet flour.
source : am gujju and grew up eating thepla.
1. Kulcha and Paratha is available in any North Indian restaurant in any part of India. It is not restricted to Kashmir / Punjab or North India as the article suggests.
2. Vade originated in South India and not Western India. It is available in any South Indian restaurant in any part of India. It is typically eaten with Idlies. If you pick any menu in a South Indian restaurant you'll find that it is written as "Idly-Vada" (not to be confused with Vada-Pav).
3. Thalipeth is also available in North Karnataka apart from Maharashtra.
4. Bhakri is also available in North Karnataka.
5. Pav is available in any North Indian restaurant in any part of India. Not restricted to Mumbai/Goa.
Also, if you're in the US, you can get most of these frozen in any medium sized Indian store.
It would be nice of Indians to stop considering the bread of settlers who came 9 centuries ago as _foreign_...
Edit: The writer seems to be American, but it's an attitude that's pervasive of the Hindu Right anyway...
EDIT: But there are entries here about "Indian breads" that originate at the Mughal court, derived from Afghan or other Islamic traditions. Those aren't Indian breads if naan isn't!
A good acid test is, did Indian culinary culture substantially alter the dish? In the case of naan, no, it probably didn't. In other cases, more so.
What makes NYC pizza its own food type? There might be some minor differences like the type of dough commonly used, but I remember NYC pizza being fairly conventional (larger than average slices, not much else to distinguish it).
If NYC pizza is American, you could use the same logic to state that curry was British. There are regional variations of curry that were popularised in Britain. However, it doesn't seem right to claim them as solely British, considering most of the culinary innovation that led up to these dishes happened elsewhere.
I'm from Chicago though so I'm probably not the best person to ask about NY pizza since we have different preferences there ;)
Similar questions can be raised about the kebab, whether its Turkish and/or German. Is the nationality of the originating chefs more or less important than the nationality of the audience they're trying to please?
Come on man, that's just a marketing thing, it doesn't have any genuine cultural significance.
>"The key issue is that the dish was developed in England, for an audience of English diners."
You're ignoring my questions. Does the origin of the chefs hold no weight in your mind?
Furthermore, I'm British, and I've had plenty of curries in my time. Tikka Masala does not stick out amongst curries as something particularly different to the rest, and if there was something 'British' about it that difference should be noticeable.
It's the same thing with NYC pizza, there's basically nothing that sets it apart from pizza found elsewhere.
I haven't seen that attitude at all. Even the worst among Shiv Sainiks seem to consider vada pau their traditional dish. As for naan, the Indians I know consider it Punjabi, and traditionally made in a tandoor oven. Looking at it from another point of view, potato, tomato and chili are now considered inseparable from Indian cuisine. And yet, naan apparently came to India long before these vegetables did.
The issue is that naan is basically one of the defining staples of Central Asian food, so it's weird to refer to it as an Indian bread.
I'm not religious but I absolutely adore the Indian rituals and festivals.
Actually if you are in any major US city, you should be able to experience annakut.
- Naans are not usually made in Indian homes. They are much more common in restaurants. They are also not considered to be as healthy as rotis or phulkas.
- Indians (mostly North Indians) eat rotis, chapatis , phulkas (basically an inflated chapati) or parathas.
- A well made phulka or paratha can be absolutely delicious.
- There are many kinds of parathas and the food has long ago spread south where they have their own kinds.
- I don't think dosas or appams can be considered breads. I think they're closer to crepes.
- There seems to be much missing from this list including some Goan breads (can't recall the names) and some other South Indian types.
Sanna or sanas is one - someone else mentioned it in this thread, the comment that has akki roti, IIRC. Sanna is a bit like Kerala appams, I think. Had it only a few times. I think they put some palm juice in it too. Tastes and feels like a light extra-fluffy idli, except a bit sweet.
Also that reminds me of bajra roti. Tasty but also heavy - just one can make an average person feel full. Mainly had it in Maharashtra but may be there in some other states too. And there is makke ki roti - a standard Punjabi favorite. Only had it a few times (it was good); a lot of people swear by it - with sarson ka saag (mustard greens).
But atta - the whole-wheat flour used to make roti and chapati and also puri - is not just unbleached - in fact I don't know if it bleached or not - hope not - it is also unrefined wheat flour - meaning they do not remove the bran, or they remove the bran (or outer layers of the wheat grain) but remove less of it than for maida, which I've read is similar to US all-purpose flour. So atta has more dietary fiber and a more noticeable taste.
In fact for Indian grain / flour products made from wheat, there is a sort of gradation - we have:
- daliya - a very coarsely broken wheat grain product - cannot call it a flour, it is too coarse for that - pretty tasty when used to make upma / uppit, even without much spices added. I think couscous may be somewhere between daliya and rava or the same as daliya in granularity - never had it, so not sure. Daliya is so coarsely broken (not finely, I mean) that you can see individual pieces of it, and it looks medium brown and you can tell that it is from wheat, which you cannot for atta just by looking at it - atta just looks like a light brown (near white) flour which could be from any of a number of grains.
- rava - I think this is like or the same as semolina - less coarse than daliya but still coarse, you can see the small individual pieces - used to make upma, also to make rava dosa (mentioned in the OP)
- atta - the whole-wheat flour used to make chapati, roti, puri - finer  than rava, this one is a flour
- maida - the refined wheat flour, finer than atta - this is used to make naan.
 finer - meaning in diameter, not in taste or quality.
I really like when someone puts in this much of effort in creating content.
# Idly - steamed buns made of lentil/rice batter
# Rava idli - Spiced semolina steamed buns
# Paddu - small griddle fried buns made of spiced lentil/rice batter
# Tellevu - crisp & thin dosa made of cucumber & rice batter
# Todadev - sweet, crisp & thin layers of jaggery/sugar cane juice, cardamom and rice baked on top a hot inverted pot
The last two are really a speciality from my community from the Western Ghats
There is another central Indian bread called "pahile" or some such, google cannot find it.
Honestly pretty tasty if you throw them in a pan with a little ghee or butter.
... I actually sub a few types of them in if I'm making a quesadilla and don't have reasonably fresh tortillas.
As an example, try having Maggie noodles (or even indomie noodles) from India, Middle east and North America - all taste different.
Is uttapam just an appam variant?
They are mentioned in the first paragraph of the article:
"Before that, North India’s unleavened wheat-based flatbreads—rotis, chapatis, and puris—would have been made from whole grains"
but don't seem to have separate entries, on a quick search of it.
>Is uttapam just an appam variant?
No. Appam is a Kerala dish. Uttapam and dosa are in the whole of South India (and of course now a lot of the world, at least dosa is). The dough for appam might be the same or similar as dosa/dosai and uttapam, though they may add other things to it, like toddy or neera (fermented or unfermented palm juice), for the consistency and a bit of a sweet taste. But uttapam is a cousin of the dosa, just thicker and often with a good amount of finely chopped onion and a bit of chopped green chili sprinkled on top, and flipped over so the top side is fried too (same with dosa, (shallow) fried on both sides).
I saw that, I more meant did they have a detailed description like the other ones, just under a different name?
Thanks for the info on the uttapam!
Not much. I think I searched for all three in it just before commenting. Though other forms of roti like rumali roti are mentioned.
>Thanks for the info on the uttapam!
Nope - the word, AFAIK means "cooked food" in this case, a pancake.
Appam is made from fermented rice and no lentils in the mix. Also it is cooked crispy on the edges in a deep wok like cooking vessel.
Uthappam is made from batter similar to dosa batter (with lentils), but is never flipped while cooking (neither is the appam, but who cares). It's more of a thick open-sandwich style pancake with toppings - come to think of it, it's a griddle pizza with rice batter.
Fermenting is perhaps common between them, but the ferment in an appam is usually sugary substances (Kallu in the morning) and the Uthappam has no added ingredients for the ferment, so is more sour.
 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/t3rmin4t0r/88102227/
Uttapam is made when dosa batter doesn't get over for 4-5 days. The bread tastes sour due to the amount of time it gets fermented. It's garnished with onions and cilantro.
Dosa batter has a life cycle of it's own.
1. Overnight after the batter is ground and left to ferment -> Idly. Steamed buns(Something that's missing in the original article)
2. Evening of day one to day 3 - Dosa
3. beyond day 3 - Uttapam
They also make a thing called Paniyaram after day 3 in the south which looks like cup capes, but tastes sour and is best eaten with chicken curry.
My favorite when done right. Keeping it from being oily is key.
I find any food less tasty when eaten not using hand.