Soft and flexible Gluten Free Indian Flatbread (roti) made without psyllium husk. Perfect to serve with curries and dips. Optional dairy free and vegan.
Originally Published 8th May 2013… Recipe Updated and Re-Published 22nd June 2023
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Gluten Free Indian Flatbread – A recipe updated
I first published this recipe for gluten free Indian Flatbread back in 2013. I say ‘this’ recipe… Actually, it has been updated and improved to make it better than it ever was. Why? Because my understanding of gluten free cooking and baking has come a long way in the last 10 years. And if there’s room for improvement, I’m the first to jump at the chance to make it better!
The changes made are relatively small: The gluten free flour blend is fundamentally the same but with a slight alteration of ratios; I reduced the xanthan gum; The bicarb has been switched for baking powder; And the water is reduced, but with added soured cream for richness and better softness.
I’m happy. The resulting flatbread (or roti) is more pliable, with a better flavour and texture.
I hope you love it too. xx
Does this recipe contain psyllium husk?
No. This particular Indian Flatbread does NOT contain psyllium husk. While psyllium can work magic with bread recipes of all types, it is not right for everyone (or for every bake). Given that this particular flatbread was originally created before I had discovered psyllium husk, I have left it that way.
Nonetheless, for anyone who cannot tolerate xanthan gum, but does ‘do’ psyllium, my alternative (very popular) recipe for Gluten Free Roti, is perfect!
The magic of India – Inspiration to cook great Roti
As with ALL my recipes, the need to create roti that are authentic in flavour and texture is my priority. I am picky and have a pedantic memory of food and having eaten in India pre-Coeliac, I wanted to get as close to those memories as possible.
I LOVE India… The colours, aromas, people, city chaos vs rural peace, subtly spiced food and all that is different excite me.
From the back streets of Mumbai to the beach huts of Goa, the curries are like nothing I have ever tasted in the UK. The sheer variety of spices, each individually distinguishable as they hit the taste buds next to each other is a culinary delight. And while rice is always a safe option to accompany a curry feast, I yearn for a good Indian Flatbread alongside to mop up the delicious sauces at the end.
And so my flatbread was created…
Why choose THIS Indian Flatbread recipe
There are a plethora of gluten free flatbread recipes on the internet. Most use a commercial gluten free flour blend (either self-raising or with added baking powder) and yoghurt as their base. They rightly sell themselves on their simplicity… and yes having two (or 3) ingredients is a positive. But I’ve tried them many times. And (if I’m honest) they don’t meet my exacting standards for softness, flavour, texture and pliability.
So that’s NOT what I’m giving you. If it’s not good enough for me, then it’s not good enough for you either… This recipe (even without psyllium husk) makes the perfect accompaniment to curry and is equally at home folded around a kebab. It’s tender and smooth in texture with no grittiness from excessive rice flour. The flavour is neutral to meet all expected pairings. And it stays soft and moist enough not to instantly crack when bent.
What ingredients are used to make this Indian Flatbread recipe?
The basic ingredients needed to make my Indian Flatbread are a gluten free flour blend; a little xanthan gum; some salt; baking powder; warm water; and a combination of soured cream (or full-fat yoghurt) and a drop of oil. Below is what you need to know about the why and the what of each ingredient…
Gluten Free Flour Blend
To be clear at the outset, the gluten free flour used to make Indian Roti matters. Seriously. I tried making flatbread using bog-standard packet flour and the results were gritty, dry, hard or all three!
So… this flour blend is a combination of gram flour (also known as Besan or chickpea flour) and fine brown rice flour giving authentic flavour and protein structure to the flatbread; And tapioca and potato starches (for hydration and flexibility).
(For more information on individual gluten free flours and to explore possible alternatives, check out my ‘What is Gluten Free Flour?’ page.)
There may be commercial flour blends you have discovered that are different. In this case, use them (combining the full flour weight) alongside the other ingredients. You can even use a self-raising flour that already contains xanthan gum and baking powder, and exclude those ingredients from the recipe as well… But I think that what I’m offering (in my opinion) is altogether more flavoursome, authentic in texture and doesn’t turn into a frisbee the moment it’s cold.
Xanthan gum is used to bind the dough and bring a little fluffiness. If you can’t tolerate xanthan gum, it can be subbed for your usual alternative binder. And if the flour blend you use already contains a binder, don’t add more.
Or… you can use psyllium husk and make flatbreads from my alternative soft Gluten Free Roti recipe.
Salt offers depth of flavour.
Although flatbreads are often unleavened, using a little baking powder alongside gluten free flour makes them lighter. Be sure to check the baking powder is gluten free and safe for Coeliacs (Celiacs). And if you use self-raising flour, leave it out altogether.
Use water that is warm as it will support quicker hydration.
A drop of oil gives the flatbread better flexibility and tenderness. I use sunflower oil because it’s neutral in flavour. But feel free to use another neutrally-flavoured alternative.
I specifically use soured cream (rather than yoghurt) when I make Indian Flatbread. Why? Because it offers a higher fat content which makes a big difference to texture and flexibility.
You can use yoghurt as an alternative. But be sure to use a full-fat variety (eg traditional full fat Greek yoghurt). I did a comparison of fat content between a bunch of yoghurt brands vs soured cream and this is what I found…
Note: Table ordered from highest to lowest fat content per 100g. Colour coded blue = dairy; green = dairy free/plant-based
I was amazed at the difference between both different styles and brands which we often consider ‘like for like’. The ‘take-out’ is this? If you use yoghurt instead of soured cream, check the fat content via the ingredient label… Aim for a minimum of 9+g fat per 100g.
And absolutely add the additional oil!
Tips for making the BEST gluten free Indian Flatbread
Making great gluten free Indian Flatbread is REALLY easy. It’s honestly a case of mix well… knead a bit… roll out… and cook. So what tips and advice can I offer on this one?
- Follow the recipe (as always!) – Not following the recipe is often the reason for a recipe not coming out like it ‘looks in the picture’.
- Read the ingredient information above – Some ingredients are chosen for their specific qualities to ensure your gluten free flatbread has the right texture, flavour and shelf-life. Making switches without knowing why may significantly alter the result.
- Hydrate the dough as instructed – Gluten free flours do not behave like wheat. They need time to absorb moisture for the best texture and flexibility. Setting the dough aside to hydrate for a short time is important.
- Try not to add too much extra flour when kneading. Although you want a little sprinkle to help handle the dough, too much and the dough will get dry.
- Cover the dough when it is set aside (either as a block, balls or after rolling). This too prevents drying.
- Dust off excess flour before cooking. To prevent sticking, the dough needs to be rolled on a floured surface. Use a clean pastry brush to dust off any excess from the uncooked flatbreads so it doesn’t burn in the pan!
- Do NOT use oil when cooking. Indian Flatbread is cooked in a dry pan.
- Gently press the top of each side during cooking. I cook using a ‘double flip’ method for the best ‘char’ and puffiness. Pressing gently down on the dough as it cooks encourages it to puff. I’ve explained the method clearly on the recipe card.
How to serve Gluten Free Indian Flatbread
Indian Flatbread is always delicious when served authentically with Indian curries… It’s a carrier for the curry and to mop up all the delicious sauces at the end. At Gluten Free Alchemist, we have some favourite curries that I think you’ll love too:
- Saag Paneer (Indian Spinach and Cheese Curry)
- Red Lentil Dahl (Dal) with Roasted Pumpkin
- Vegan Keema Matar (Keema with Peas)
- Peanut Butter Chicken Curry
But why stop there? Gluten free flatbread is also a wonderful accompaniment to so many other dishes. Anything that is good for dipping, wrapping or enjoys a ‘bread side’ pairs perfectly. Try it with:
- Shakshuka (Middle-Eastern eggs and tomatoes)
- Baked Greek Feta (with tomatoes and pepper)
- Dipped in Homemade Houmous or Hummus with Caramelised Onion and Turmeric
- Served with Italian Green Beans and Tomatoes
- Wrapped around some BBQ Halloumi Skewers
- Dipped in Guatemalan Guacamole
- Served alongside North African Baba Ganoush
- As a side with Soups and Salads
How long do these flatbreads stay ‘fresh’?
Like all homemade flatbread (that is pure with no chemical preservatives), these Indian Roti are best eaten freshly made.
I have eaten them the next day and they still (surprisingly) carried a little softness. However… they can also be gently warmed either in the microwave (for literally a few seconds) or wrapped in foil and placed in a hot oven for a few minutes to bring back the warmth and flexibility.
Ready to make my Gluten Free Indian Flatbread recipe?
The recipe for my Indian Flatbread is just below (scroll an inch or two further). Enjoy! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. You can do this by leaving a comment at the bottom; sending an email; or messaging me through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest). Let me know what you think too! It’s always great to hear from you.
For all our other bread recipes, did you know we have a dedicated Gluten Free Bread Recipes index? How cool is that?!
And for everything else, our main Gluten Free Recipe Index is the perfect starting point for your gluten free journey. All the recipes are shared for free with my love to the gluten free community.
Indian Flatbread (gluten free)
- flat-bladed knife
- damp cloth/cling film
- Rolling Pin (optional)
- large frying pan/skillet
- flat silicone spatula
- 65 g potato starch
- 60 g gram flour aka Besan or chickpea flour
- 20 g brown rice flour
- 35 g tapioca flour
- ¾ tsp xanthan gum
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- ¾ tsp baking powder gluten free
- 1 tsp sunflower oil or alternative neutral oil of choice
- 70 g soured cream or high fat yoghurt – dairy free or plant-based (see post for discussion)
- 65 g warm water
- Weigh and mix together the flours, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.
- Make a well in the centre and add the oil, soured cream and warm water.
- Mix all the ingredients together with a flat knife until fully combined and coming together as a ball.
- Cover and set aside for 20 minutes (minimum) to hydrate at room temperature, so that excess moisture is absorbed by the flour.
- Once hydrated, use lightly floured hands to knead the mixture until smooth and pliable.
- Divide and roll the mixture into even-sized dough balls (the standard recipe makes 6 flatbreads).
- Set aside covered with cling film or a damp cloth (to prevent them drying out), until ready to shape and cook.
- On a floured surface and with flour lightly sprinkled on top of the dough, flatten each ball (using a rolling pin or the pressure of hands) into a rough circle, lifting frequently to check it’s not sticking. Each dough flatbread should be about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter.
- Either cook the flatbreads as they are flattened or set aside with a layer of baking paper between each and covered to keep them moist until ready to cook.
- Heat a large flat-bottomed frying pan or skillet until very hot. Do NOT add any oil.
- Before each flatbread is cooked, use a clean pastry brush to brush off any excess flour from each side of the dough.
- Place the dough breads in the centre of the pan to cook, one at a time.
- When the top side of the dough develops lots of air bubbles, turn it over using an angled spatula and cook the other side.
- Using the flat side of the spatula, gently and briefly press down several times across the top of the flatbread. You may feel resistance as the bread starts to puff underneath the spatula. When this happens, lift the spatula from that area and let it puff!
- When the underside of the flatbread is starting to develop areas of char or darker brown patches, flip it back over to cook the first side for a little longer. Again, gently press on the top to encourage puffing.
- If the flatbreads cook either too fast or too slow, adjust the temperature of the hob as necessary. But remember, the pan NEEDS to be hot for the best cook and flavour. A few charred patches are a good thing!
- As each flatbread is cooked, transfer to a board or plate (layering them up) and cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm (or serve immediately as they are cooked).
- If the flatbreads get too cold, they can be either eaten that way (they should still be soft and pliable) or pop them in a microwave for 5 to 10 seconds to re-warm).
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist