North Indian Punjabi flatbread is called kulcha. Kulcha is ideally served with spicy pulses, dals and (most famously) choley, which are spice-braised chickpeas. Naan has had its day in the sun, and it seemed last year I couldn’t open a book or magazine without seeing a recipe for it. Kulcha is less well known, but it’s easier and simpler to make because it doesn’t include yeast. Both breads are ideally made in a tandoor oven, but I make mine on a griddle on the stovetop or on a flattop on my wood-burning grill. If you develop the right touch, you can even make them using your broiler.
I serve kulcha with everything you can think of: as a flatbread for shashlik (a form of shish kebab), for tacos al pastor, and rolled around grilled sausage with peppers and onions (my most recent favorite).
The Best Indian Flatbread to Make at Home
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup minced shallots
- 2 scallions, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced serrano with seeds
- 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Ghee or clarified butter, for brushing
In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the yogurt, water and oil until the dough starts to come together. Using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
In a medium bowl, mix the shallots with the scallions, serrano, ginger, sesame seeds, fennel, cumin and oregano.
Unwrap the dough and roll it into an 8-inch log, then cut the log into 8 pieces. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle. Work with one piece of dough at a time: Roll out a piece of dough to an 8-inch round. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the shallot mixture in the center of the round. Fold the edges of the dough into the center, covering the filling. Using your palm, gently press to flatten. Carefully roll out the filled dough to a 7-inch round.
Brush the kulcha with ghee and add to the hot skillet. Cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until puffed and charred in spots, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough and shallot mixture. Serve warm.
Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.
Photograph by Madeleine Hill.