We often get asked what the difference is between all of those breads you can eat with dals or curries.
There are basically 5 main types of bread that you can make (or buy) and these are roti, chapati, puri, paratha and naan. Within each main bread type there are lots of different variants. For example, plain naan, garlic naan and peshwari naan.
A roti is an unleavened bread. In other words, it does not use yeast or any other ingredient to try and get it to rise. The word roti tends to cover all unleavened breads, including chapati and paratha although, just to confuse matters, there is a specific bread called roti. Traditionally, roti is made from whole meal flour (called atta flour).
Chapati (also known as chapatti and chapathi) is very similar to a roti with the main differences being that chapati is thinner and is made from whole wheat flour (rather than whole meal flour that a roti is made from). Like roti, chapati is unleavened.
Puri (also known as poori) is very similar to chapati with the main difference being that puri is deep fried, rather than pan fried. Again, puri is unleavened.
Paratha is layered chapati that is lightly fried in ghee, or oil. As well as layers being chapati, the layers can just be stuffed with vegetables such as potato, cauliflower and paneer. Seeing that paratha is a form of chapati, a paratha is also unleavened.
Naan bread is leavened bread made with white flour. The bread is usually leavened with yeast and sometimes baking powder (or a combination of both). Naan is thicker than the unleavened breads. Roti, chapati, puri and paratha are traditionally made on a tava or in a pan whereas naan is made in a tandoor. A lot of naan recipes use a conventional oven to bake the naan, seeing that not many people have a tandoor in their homes.
And what are these breads used for? Well, paratha can be a snack or meal by itself, particularly if it is stuffed with vegetables. The other breads are eaten as accompaniments for dal and curry dishes where they are eaten as a side dish, used to scoop up the food or used to clean up the plate.
The Curry Focus website has a selection of curry bread recipes for you to try for yourself.