Beyond Curry: Bhakri (Indian Unleavened Rice Bread)

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Prasanna Sankhe

Where there's a curry, there's usually a rice or roti preparation that's used to soak in or scoop up the flavorful sauce; in India's rice belt, bread made out of rice flour is common. Because it's unleavened, it can be made in just a matter of minutes—a few ingredients kneaded together, a little heat, and it's done. Bhakri, or rice bread, is rustic food at its best.

On my journeys through rural India, I have seen weathered farmers carry small steel lunch boxes that are opened halfway between breakfast and lunch to reveal a couple of Bhakris with garlic chutney, thecha (a relish made with fresh green chillies, salt, and garlic), and a raw onion. They crush the onion and add a bit of everything into each morsel of torn Bhakri. It's spicy, wholesome, and filling food that serves them well for the hard work they do all day in the sun.

Bhakris are slightly firmer than a naan or roti made from wheat, and puff up easily with just a bit with the heat. They taste best when hot and straight off the stove. They taste delicious with scrambled eggs, daals (lentil soups) or a chicken ghee roast.