What is Thepla Bread?
Thepla bread is an unleavened flat bread made from yogurt, flour, cooking oil and spices. Other ingredients such as coriander (cilantro) and fenugreek leaves are often added as well. All of the ingredients are mixed together into a dough. The dough is then rolled out into dough circles before being lightly fried and then eaten.
Thepla bread originally came from the Indian region of Gujarat.
There is a large blog about the main Indian bread types and the differences between the Indian bread types among the many Curry Focus blogs.
And there are lots of great Indian bread recipes on the Curry Focus website.
Why Make Thepla Bread?
To be honest, I’ve never eaten thepla bread before and hadn’t heard of it until somebody sent in the thepla bread recipe. The thepla bread recipe went into the pile of recipes to be put onto the website and was forgotten about for a few months. But a prompting from a friend (from Gujarat) made me find the recipe again and load it into the website for everyone to see.
The Recipe Looks Complicated
There are a lot of steps in the recipe. But the Gujarati thepla bread recipe is not really complicated at all. Most of the steps describe how to make the dough and roll it out into rounds ready for cooking. I realise that all of you cooks out there can probably make dough with your eyes shut. But not me – I’m an average cook and need a recipe.
And there really is not much more work in making thepla bread than in making a lot of curries if you consider that making and rolling the dough is just another form of ingredient preparation.
Getting the Ingredients
Saturday found me visiting my favourite Indian supermarket where I wandered up and down the aisles seeing what was available and inhaling the fantastic spice aromas. I knew where to get the yogurt, flour, coriander (cilantro) and dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) but why go directly to them and miss out on seeing what else was on offer?
Making the Thepla Bread Dough
Making the dough is not complicated, even though it looks it.
I made up the yogurt mixture before measuring out the flour and adding the oil.
Then I rubbed the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture and added enough warm water to get a smooth dough. I always find it hard to know what the dough should feel like. Should it be hard? Should it be soft? I was told that this dough should be on the soft side by adding as much warm water as possible – if the dough is too dry then the final thepla bread will be dry and brittle. So I made the dough soft but not sticky as making it sticky would cause it to be messy and difficult to roll into thepla bread rounds.
Here’s a tip. If you do make the dough too sticky, add some more flour to the dough mixture to firm it up. If you add too much flour then you’ll need to add a little water to get the dough back to the correct texture. Be careful not to get into a cycle of adding flour then water then flour as you may end up with a dough ball the size of your head.
Here’s another tip. Use only one hand for mixing the dough. This leaves your other hand free to add other ingredients without needing to keep washing your hands – you did wash your hands before starting to make the dough though, didn’t you? You can scrape the ingredients that stick to your mixing hand into the dough right at the end of mixing (I use the back of a knife blade – don’t want to get blood into the dough).
Making the Thepla Bread Rounds
After leaving the dough to rest, it was time to start working again.
I split the dough into 16 equal sized pieces and hand-rolled them into balls.
Then I prepared some sheets of greaseproof paper that I was going to use to separate the rolled uncooked thepla breads.
Then I rolled the dough balls into thepla bread rounds on a roti board that I have, using my little roti rolling pin. I made sure to liberally sprinkle chapati flour around so that the dough did not stick to the rolling pin or roti board.
Each uncooked thepla bread round was put on greaseproof paper and then another sheet of greaseproof paper went onto the thepla bread round, ready for the next piece of rolled dough.
Before too long I had 16 uncooked thepla breads ready for the frying pan.
Confession time. The thepla bread rounds look very good, don’t they? Well, I didn’t roll them like that – my dough rolling is nowhere as good. What I did was get a couple of the dough rounds that I made and used a saucer to give me a template for cutting off the rough edges. This is what my thepla bread rounds really looked like.
Cooking the Thepla Breads
Before starting to cook the thepla breads, I had to work out how many I was going to cook today and how many to leave for later. As usual, there were four of us for dinner – I made a mild aubergine (eggplant) curry yesterday so all I would need to do tonight was heat it up while cooking the thepla breads.
Two thepla breads each should be enough so I had a pile of 8 uncooked thepla breads for tonight’s dinner.
I wanted to try out cooking the thepla breads before the dinner guests arrived so put aside another two uncooked thepla breads.
That left six uncooked thepla breads that I did not need tonight so I put them, and their greaseproof paper separators, into a plastic bag and popped them into the freezer for another day.
I did my trial run of cooking around 3pm. And it went well. The first thepla bread took longer to cook than the second – I suppose it was because I started to cook before the frying pan was fully heated. It was pretty easy flipping the thepla breads over while they were cooking to see if the undersides were cooked OK.
So within a few minutes I was sampling the thepla breads on their own. They were well smeared with cooking oil and I think it would have been a good plan to have ghee for cooking instead of the oil. Maybe next time. On reflection (too late now) I could have smeared them with butter for a great result. I’ve added this to the recipe because I think the taste would be improved.
I started to cook the main batch of thepla breads when the tasting crew arrived, at the same time as warming up the curry.
I even remembered to heat up the oven before starting to cook the thepla breads and wrapped them in foil to keep them warm.
Tasting the Cooked Theplas
I served up the cooked Gujarati thepla bread with the aubergine curry and everyone got stuck into the food.
And the thepla bread was good. We all ate the thepla bread by itself as well as using it to scoop up the curry.
The thepla bread had a spice/heat rating of “Mild” and received a taste score of 8 out of 10.
The thepla breads were filling as well as tasty.
Another successful recipe test.