There is no doubt that the Indians know how to make their bread. Soft, delicious and complimentary to any condiment under the sun, Indian bread is a daily food staple that is close to any Malaysians’ heart. Though Roti Canai is the commonly known one, Aishah Azali went out discover the lesser known breads of Indian cuisine that are equally as delectable.
My love for bread stemmed during my younger years as I remember eating it more than eating rice. Take rice out of my daily menu and I’ll be fine but omitting bread is a different story. Malaysia’s variety of bread I noticed is mastered in Indian cuisine. It does not matter whether it’s northern or southern Indian, bread in all its glorious form; circular, square, cone-like or even chopped up to be drenched in gravy is a cuisine that reigns supreme in Malaysia. But what else is out there besides the common roti canai, tosai and roti boom? Well, chapati has always been my favourite and was I surprised that there are many types of chapati made from various ingredients and seasoned with a plethora of spices. I interviewed Meeta Sheth of Ganga Café at Bangsar to find out the lesser known breads in Indian cuisine. Boy was I in for a treat.
Also known as the ‘traveller’s chapati’, this flatbread is pretty similar to a typical chapati but with some added goodness. Wheat flour is used for the dough but other spices like chilli powder and cumin are added to the mix for that punch of flavour. It is a traditional Gujarati dish that can be eaten on its own or even dipped in a variety of curries and even pickled mango.
The rotala is something like your average chapati but instead is made from millet flour. Millet is a type of gluten-free grain that is widely grown in India that creates a denser chapati. It also varies in colour as the rotala has a slightly greyish tone similar to the colour of raw millet. Back in India, it was once considered a poor man’s food because millet was easy to grow and store. Nowadays it is known more for its health benefits that are packed with manganese and phosphorus.
The super chapati of the lot, ayurvedic chapati is packed with more healthy grains in one flatbread. An ordinary chapati uses wheat flour but this one is mixed with corn, soy, wheat and a sprinkle of chickpeas to name a few. The taste is heartier, making you feel like you are eating a meal of superfoods like that bowl of quinoa and flax seed.
A light dinner staple eaten by the Gujaratis is the bhakari bread which is accompanied with side dishes made with vegetables like aubergine or squash. It is made from wheat flour but is kneaded a little thicker than your normal chapati. It is best eaten with ‘baingan bharta’ which are roasted aubergines cooked with spices.
The puri is different from the families of chapati due to its method of cooking. Its dough is still kneaded using wheat flour but after shaping them into circular portions, it is deep fried in hot oil. The result is this balloon-like bread, crispy, golden and ready to be dipped in curry or dal. When served, it is best eaten immediately while the bread is still filled with air because no one wants to eat a deflated puri.
The juice to wake you up in the morning featuring a hefty dose of mint leaves, some spices and even a version with added tea.
Fresh mangoes are blended with yoghurt for a glass of sour and sweetness that transcends your average smoothie.
The Indian beverage staple, this milk tea is loaded with spices like cinnamon and cardamom. The one served at Ganga Café is the right balance of milky and spicy for a perfect cup of tea in the morning.
About Ganga Café
Located in the quiet neighbourhood of Pantai Dalam in Bangsar, Meeta’s café was one of the first restaurants to pop up there before other trendy eateries came about. Her vegetarian restaurant is definitely the homey one of the block, serving simple popular Indian dishes that will make you feel like you are being served by the Indian mother you never had.
For an authentic taste of Ganga Café’s hospitality and food, try the Sunday Family Buffet. It is quite an event as for RM25, you get a feast of five different types of chapati, a variety of dal gravy, masala tea and dessert. Bring your whole family as this Indian version of a Sunday roast will make you a fan of the restaurant and Meeta’s vegetarian dishes.
THE GANGA CAFÉ
19 Lorong Kurau, Taman Bukit Pantai, Bangsar 59100 Kuala Lumpur
9am till 11pm (Monday to Saturday) 10am till 3pm (Sunday)
Other Indian restaurants that served a mean plate of chapati
WTF | 98, Lorong Maarof, Bangsar 59000 KL
Tasty Chapathi | Viva Residensy, Suppiah Pillay off Jalan Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Ipoh 51200 KL
Santa Restaurant Chapati House | 11, Jalan Tun HS Lee 50000 KL