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Paratha and roti | Unusual breads from around the world

When something’s good, it’s often said to be “the best thing since sliced bread.” If you think about it, this saying doesn’t really make any sense – sliced bread is rubbish, it’s boring, and you’d have to be completely bonkers to believe it was mankind’s last great invention. That said, here in the UK, sliced bread is incredibly popular and people buy it almost all the time. Occasionally they’ll break the routine with a seeded bloomer (at the weekend, as a treat) but other than that it’s sliced bread or nothing.

Compared to Britain, other countries are much more adventurous, bread-wise. In this series we’ll be looking around the world at some of the most unusual breads you can put in your lunchbox.

Paratha and roti | India


Everyone knows about naan, the delicious Indian bread that sounds like it was named after a grandmother. It’s a vital part of any Indian takeaway – if you’ve got rice and you’ve got curry, you’ve got to get a naan. Whether you like a sweet peshwari, a meaty keema or that strange one with all the melted cheese on top, there’s a naan to suit every taste.

Varied as naans can be, they don’t satisfy all of India’s bread needs and so the country has invented a whole range of other styles. One of the most popular is paratha, a pan fried flatbread. Parathas can be eaten plain or stuffed full of some other foodstuff – spiced potato (if you want a nice one); cauliflower, carrot or radish (if you don’t). Unexpectedly, paratha are usually eaten as a breakfast dish – it’s not uncommon for Indians to roll up the bread and dip it in their cup of tea.

Another of India’s favourites is roti, a round flatbread so common that its name comes directly from the Sanskrit word for bread. Whereas naan or paratha can be cooked with a filling inside, roti are always served plain as an accompaniment. The fact that roti are eaten with so many meals can mean only one thing – just like here, people in India have learnt that everything tastes better in a sandwich (even if that sandwich is made with a type of wholemeal pancake).

Before you head to India to try the bread, set up a travel insurance policy.