Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Babes Bake Delicious Flatbread

Most cultures around the world have some sort of flatbread. Flatbreads are often faster than loaves and the flexible ones can be used instead of utensils to grab morsels and convey them to your mouth, usually along with some sauce or juices.

This month our wonderful Kitchen of the Month Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen has given us the challenge of making Kulchas, an Indian yeasted fluffy flatbread that is fairly easy and really delicious. She also gave us recipes for a bean dish and a chutney to go with, but I'm afraid that just making the bread was sufficient for me this month (but the recipes can be found on Aparna's post). We have been having record heat followed by over a week of smothering smoke. Much of the west coast of America is on fire and the smoke has to go somewhere.

 In August we were close to being evacuated from the fire burning near Guerneville on the Russian River but it stayed far enough away that we never had to leave home, even though our bags were packed. Some of my friends and relations were not that lucky. This is the 4th year in a row when wild fires have terrorized our area with people dying, homes and businesses burned to the ground, and millions of acres of forest lands burned, too, and we still have over two months to go before we can expect relief from regular rain. I think global warming plays a part.

Enough of my weather report. Back to bread. 

This is a delicious bread and fun to make since you cook it on a grill. I used a cast iron pan and cooked them one at a time. We had them with dinner and that included some juicy tomatoes from our garden, so I used pieces of the kulchas to sop up the tomato juices. Wonderful!

The only thing to remember about this recipe is to start it the night before you want to make the bread. I actually started it two nights before, sirred in another 1/4 cup of flour mixed with water the morning I made the bread and let that sit for a few hours before continuing with the recipe. My dough was a little too sticky, so I added another 1/2 cup flour to the final dough before letting it have the final rise.

I used a Penzey's spice I had on hand called  Charnushka from India. Then I looked at the back and it said it was nigella! It has a slight celery fragrance and was a nice addition to the bread. The leftovers reheated nicely the next evening.

Here is what Aparna wrote about the Kulchas:

"The Kulcha is a flatbread somewhat like the Naan but a bit different. A Kulcha is typically leavened with baking powder and baking soda while Naan is made with yeast. This particular Kulcha recipe, adapted from an Indian chef Ranveer Brar’s recipe, deviates from this rule as it is made with a khameer or pre-ferment which gives the Kulcha a slight tang. Khameer is an Urdu word meaning yeast. So Naans tend to be chewier while Kulchas are soft and spongier. Naans tend to be oblong in shape while Kulchas are usually round but this is more of a preference than a rule. Naanas tend to be cooked in a Tandoor while Kulchas are usually cooked on the stove top, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule either.

 The Kulcha became popular in India because of the Nizams of Hyderabad. The Nizams were 18th-through-20th-century rulers of the princely state of Hyderabad in South India. Rich and powerful, they were also famous for their cuisine.

The story goes that one Mir Qamruddin, an old courtier in Mughal court, was appointed the Deccan governor. He first went to meet his spiritual guide, the Sufi mystic Hazrat Nizamuddin Aurangabadi. Mir Qamruddin was very hungry and his spiritual guide invited him to a meal and offered him some Kulchas. Mir Qamruddin, with apologies, apparently ate seven Kulchas! Hazrat Nizamuddin prophesised that Mir Qamruddin would eventually become king and that his descendants would rule for seven generations. (Not sure why the number seven is so important. :D)

It turned out that soon after Mir Qamruddin became the Deccan governor, Delhi was attacked and the Mugal rulers were defeated. The Nizams who were governors took over in the Deccan region becoming the richest kings of the biggest kingdom in India. The Kulcha also earned its place in Nizam royal cuisine. It supposedly became a part of the royal coat of arms of Mir Qamaruddin’s Asaf Jahi dynasty and the; mso-margin-bottom-alt: auto; mso-margin-top-alt: auto;">There are different types of Kulchas, though all are flat breads. One is this type that is soft and spongy. Then there is the Bread Kulcha which has the texture of bread. 

This particular Kulcha is made from a slightly looser dough than usual for flatbreads, and it tends to be a bit sticky. You can lightly dust your working surface and palms with flour to make handling the dough easier. The Kulchas are usually topped with Nigella seeds (Kalonji; you can use black sesame seeds also) and dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi) or chopped fresh coriander/ cilantro leaves before cooking."

Do give making this bread a try. To be a Buddy, contact Aparna by email by Sept. 29th with the URL of your post and a photo so she can send your Buddy Badge and include you in the round-up.

Be sure to check out the other Bread Baking Babes posts, too, to see how they experienced making this yummy flatbread. Thanks Aparna for this lovely Kulcha recipe. Sweetie wants me to make it again soon.

 KULCHA (Flat Bread)


For the Khameer or Pre-Ferment :

1/2 tsp instant or active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water

 For Kulcha Dough :

All of the Khameer/ Pre-ferment
1/2 tsp instant or active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp ghee (or soft unsalted butter)
More water, if needed for a soft dough

 For the Topping :

Nigella seeds or black sesame seeds
Dried Fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi) or chopped fresh coriander leaves/ cilantro

Ghee or unsalted butter for cooking the Kulchas



For the Khameer/ Pre-ferment (previous night) :

Mix together the yeast, water, sugar and all-purpose flour till smooth in a big bowl. Cover and leave on the kitchen counter overnight to ferment.

If you want to make Kulchas for dinner, then do this early in the morning and allow it to ferment for about 8 to 10 hours depending on your ambient room temperature. A word of caution though - Kulchas can be a little heavy for dinner.

 For the Kulcha Dough (some time next morning) :

The Khameer/ pre-ferment should have risen well and will appear quite stringy. Mix in the other 1/2 tsp of yeast, all-purpose flour, yogurt, salt and a little water. Knead till you have a soft, sticky and loose dough. You don’t need a mixer for this. Your hand or a dough whisk is enough.

Add the ghee or soft butter and knead once again till well incorporated. Shape into a round and leave in the bowl. Cover loosely and let it rise till almost double in volume.  This should take between an hour and two.

Knead the dough lightly to de-gas it. Then divide into 6 equal portions. Lightly flour your working surface, if required, and roll out each portion into a circle or oblong of less than 1/4 “ thickness. Sprinkle some Nigella seeds and dried fenugreek leaves or coriander leaves/ cilantro and lightly press into the rolled out dough.

Heat a griddle or flat pan and place the rolled dough on it. Sprinkle a little water on the sides of the griddle/ pan (not on the dough) and cover. Cook the flat bread for a minute or so. Now remove the cover and cook on the other side as well. If not serving immediately, cook till here and keep aside. When ready to serve proceed further with cooking in ghee or butter as follows. 

Brush some ghee or unsalted butter on both sides and cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Repeat with remaining portions. Serve hot.


  1. So fluffy inside! Oh yes, they would be great for sopping up any soup or stew! Great idea.

  2. I like the idea of sprinkling a spice on these flatbreads. I bet they were delicious.

  3. Yours looks so fluffy!! I'm so sorry you've had to nearly evacuate. Glad it's so far so good.

  4. Yikes, yours are so perfectly fluffy! Mine were painfully flat.
    I must try again for fluffy and make the salsa.
    It is amazing how many cultures/countries have some version of a flat bread.

  5. How scary to be so close to out-of-control fires!! I sure hope that rain comes soon to drown them out AND take the horrible smoke away too. The photos from your side of the world are pretty devastating. I'm very glad you're doing okay.

    Ha. More than okay. Your kulchas look fabulous. And with juicy tomatoes just picked from the garden too? Oh my!! I am suitably envious.

  6. Love the story, the bread looks delicious, and the fires are so awful, scary, terrible.... Stay safe

  7. I'm sorry to hear that the fires were so close to you. I have been seeing the devastation on the news. Stay safe.
    Your Kulchas look lovely. Good to know you could find the seeds.