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6 Essential Indian Flours You Need to Know for Making Different Types of Breads

by Jayashri
6 Essential Indian Flours

Good knowledge of Indian Flours would help you to prepare and enjoy the below Indian food items:


Today, I will explain to you the COMMONLY used Flours in Indian Cooking.

You will learn to identify the correct flour type for the correct dishes.

Plus there will be answers to the Frequently Asked Questions.

Let’s get started!



Whole Wheat Flour or Atta

Atta is one of the most popularly used Indian Flour.

It is the powdered form of whole wheat.

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole wheat flour is slightly brown or dull brown in colour.

In India, whole wheat flour is widely used to prepare:

  • Rotis,
  • Chapathis,
  • Wheat Parathas,
  • Phulkas,
  • Wheat Dosa,
  • Stuffed Rotis or Paranthas etc.


Is wheat flour & whole wheat flour the same?

No. Wheat flour usually means white flour or maida that is being processed or refined. Whole wheat flour means Atta or flour that is processed making sure that the bran of the wheat is intact/retained.


What is the substitute for Whole Wheat Flour?

As far as I have known, there is no proper or better substitution for whole wheat atta. You may use maida or all-purpose flour instead, but it definitely changes the texture and taste and also unhealthy.


New to Indian Cooking?

If you are a beginner or someone who is not sure on how to get started in Indian Cooking, please click on the below links for STEP By STEP GUIDE.

1. Essential Indian Cooking Tools – A Complete Guide for setting up basic Indian Equipment for cooking.
2. Essential Indian Spices – A Comprehensive Guide explaining the basics of Indian Spices which are Important for cooking Indian Foods.
3. How to Cook Rice Perfectly – Learn to Cook Indian Rice using 2 methods – Pot and Pressure Cooker


Tips to follow while preparing the dough with Atta for the above mentioned Indian bread

1. Add 1-2 tsp of oil to make the dough soft.
2. You may use boiled & cooled milk instead of water to make the dough non-sticky.
3. Once you finish preparing the dough, rub the dough surface with little water to avoid it from drying.
4. Cover & Rest the dough for 15-20 mins, so it absorbs water evenly.
5. Knead the dough after resting it for at least 5 to 10 mins.

Wheat Flour 2


The Best Way to make Atta or whole wheat flour is to BUY Whole Wheat and get it milled or grounded finely at the nearest flour mill. Doing so, you will not only gain over the quality of wheat flour but also will save a lot of money.

Wheat is considered as a healthier substitute compared to Maida or all-purpose flour.


In India, Aashirvaad & Pilsbury are the 2 most popular whole wheat flour brands used. (click on the image to buy the product through our amazon affiliate links).




Maida or All-Purpose Flour

All Purpose Maida Flour

Maida is a white flour made from wheat.

It is usually refined and bleached wheat flour.

This flour is widely used in Indian to make Sweets like

  • badusha,
  • boli varieties,
  • gulab jamun,
  • maida biscuits, cookies etc;

And Snacks like

  • samosas,
  • puffs,
  • rolls,
  • papdi,
  • momos etc;

And Flatbreads like

  • naan,
  • roumali roti,
  • stuffed naan varieties,
  • parotta,
  • paratha,
  • batura,
  • wraps etc.


Are refined wheat flour and maida are same?

Yes, they both are the same.


Maida


Tips to follow while preparing the dough with Maida for the above mentioned Indian Dishes

1. Add 1-2 tsp of oil to make the dough soft.
2. You may use boiled & cooled milk instead of water to make the dough non-sticky.
3. Once you finish preparing the dough, rub the dough surface with little water to avoid it from drying.
4. Cover & Rest the dough for 15-20 mins, so it absorbs water evenly.
5. Knead the dough after resting it for at least 5 to 10 mins.
6. You may add 1-2 tsp of curd & 3-4 tsp of rava/sooji to maida while preparing dough for Batura to get those crispy & fluffy textured pooris or baturas.


Few Maida flour brands are: (click on the image to buy the product through our amazon affiliate links).



Rice Flour

Rice Flour

Rice Flour is the powdered form of rice.

Whole rice is usually milled to produce rice flour.

In most of the Indian cuisines, it is also used as a thickening agent.

Rice flour is used to prepare

  • dosa,
  • idly,
  • puttu,
  • bajjis,
  • rotis,
  • appam,
  • idiyappam etc.

It is also used to prepare sweets like

  • kolukattai,
  • athirasam, and many more.
Rice Flour 2

The following Indian Snacks are Also prepared using rice flour:

  • murukku,
  • seeval,
  • kara sev,
  • mixture,
  • boondi etc.



Is rice flour the same as all-purpose flour?

No, rice flour is completely different from all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour is processed wheat flour, whereas rice flour is milled or finely ground rice.


How do I substitute rice flour for all purpose flour?

Yes, you can substitute rice flour for all-purpose flour only when it comes to binding the food. eg., while making cutlets, vada, or any other snack items. It can be used to bring/hold shape for the snack.


Can I bake with rice flour?

Yes, you can bake with rice flour.


How much does rice flour cost?

It would cost approximately INR Rs.40-Rs.50 per Kilogram.


Where to buy rice flour?

In India, it is easily available in most of the local grocery or departmental stores. If not, it can be easily purchased online too. You can check the links under Rice Flour heading for online options.


The Best Way to make Rice flour is to BUY Raw Rice and get it milled or grounded finely at the nearest flour mill. Doing so, you will not only gain over the quality of rice flour but also will save a lot of money.


Few Rice Flour brands in India are: (click on the image to buy the product through our amazon affiliate links).



Rava or Semolina

Rava is a wheat product and is dull-white in colour.

These are very fine tiny granules.

Rava Semolina

It is popularly used to prepare:

  • upma,
  • rava idly,
  • rava dosa,
  • kesari,
  • ladoo,
  • halwa,
  • kichdi etc.

Sometimes, it is also used to prepare idly dosa batter.

idli flour
Rava Indian Flour


What is Rava Made of?

It is the ground form of husked wheat used to prepare rava dosa, rava idli etc.


What is the difference between Semolina, Rava, Sooji and Bombay Rava?

All these names refer to the same ground form of husked wheat. Outside India, it is referred to as semolina, rava is how it is called in South India, Sooji or bombay rava is the name referred in North India.


Can I substitute all purpose flour for semolina flour?

No, you cannot substitute all-purpose flour for semolina as they both are completely different products.


Few Rava/Semolina brands in India are: (click on the image to buy the product through our amazon affiliate links).


Below are a few options to prepare Rava idli, Rava dosa with instant mixes:



Corn Flour

Corn Flour

Corn flour is a white fine smooth powder derived from maize.

It is also called corn starch and is used mainly as a thickening agent in soups, Chinese gravies etc.

It is also used to prepare white sauces.

In India, it is used along with other flour and spices to make crispy and crunchy bajjis, vada, snacks etc.

Adding a few teaspoons of corn flour with some snack recipes can make it crispier.



Can you use cornflour instead of rice flour?

When it comes to thickening a gravy or curry, we can use corn flour instead of rice flour. But remember to use it for thickening only chinese dishes and not Indian curries.

The reason being- cornflour gives a slightly soupy, smoothy texture to the dish, whereas rice flour just thickens the gravy thereby retaining the taste and texture of the dish.


Few Corn Flour brands in India are: (click on the image to buy the product through our amazon affiliate links).



Gram Flour (Besan)

Gram Flour

Gram Flour or Besan is a pulse flour made by grounding Bengal Gram or Channa Dal.

It is used to prepare Savouries and Sweets like

  • mixture,
  • kara boondi,
  • oma podi,
  • sweet boondi,
  • mysore pak,
  • besan ladoo,
  • halwa etc.

Gram flour is made into a batter to make bajjis, bondas, pakodas and other snacks.


Is gram flour good for health?

Gram flour is good for health as it lowers bad cholesterol and keeps your heart healthy.


Is gram flour the same as chickpea flour?

It is not exactly the same but doesn’t make much difference though.


Few Gram Flour brands in India are: (click on the image to buy the product through our amazon affiliate links).



Glossary of Common Indian Flours

ENGLISHTAMILHINDIKANNADAMALAYALAMTELUGU
Whole Wheat FlourGodhumai MaavuAttaGodhi HittuGothambu PodiGodima Pindi
SemolinaRavaiSooji/RavaSajeegai / RavaeRawaBombai Rawa
Rice FlourArisi MaavuChawal Ka Aatta Akki hittu AripodiBiyyampindi
Gram FlourKadalai Maavu Besan Kadale hittuKadala Podi Senaga Pindi
All Purpose FlourMaida MaavuMaidaMaida HittuMaida MavuMaida Pindi
Corn flourChola MaavuMakai Ka Atta Musukinajolada HittuCholapodiMokkajonnalu Pindi



FAQ’s

(Frequently Asked Questions)

Which Flour should I use to Prepare Chapathi or Poori?

Whole wheat flour is usually used to prepare chapati or poori dough. Small portions of the dough are then taken and rolled flat to prepare chapati & poori.


What Flour is used in Indian Cooking?

Indian cooking involves various types of flours. The most commonly used flour is Whole wheat flour or Atta and Maida. Wheat flour or atta is mainly used to prepare chapati, poori, roti etc. Whereas, maida is used to prepare Batura, Naan etc. Apart from these, they are also used to prepare snacks like cookies, biscuits, cakes, pizza base, samosa, puffs etc.


Which Type of Flour has the Most Fibre?

Whole wheat flour contains more fibre compared to other white or refined flours. They are not so high in gluten and are the best for people who are on a diet.


Which Type of Flour do I use for Bread, Baking, Flatbreads, etc.?

Bread – Maida or Whole wheat flour can be used to prepare bread. The common flour used to prepare bread is maida.

Baking – Biscuits, cookies, cakes, pastries are prepared using maida or all-purpose flour. Also, cookies and biscuits can be prepared using whole wheat flour. Cakes and pastries are usually prepared using maida but sometimes are also prepared using 50% maida and 50% atta or whole wheat flour.

Flatbread – They can be prepared using either maida or atta. Whole wheat or atta is always the healthier option.


Where can I Buy these Flour Essentials In India and Outside India?

Most of these flours are easily available in local grocery shops, departmental stores or supermarkets. For those outside India, if you are not accessible to these flours, you can buy them online through the amazon affiliate links provided above.


How to Store Indian Flours?

Always remember to store the flours in air-tight containers, so they don’t lose their flavour and colour.


How Long Can You Store Indian Flours?

If the flours are prepared homemade (bought as a whole & milled at the nearest flour mill), then you may store and use it for as long as 6 months.

If you choose store-bought branded flours, then make sure to check the manufacturing & expiry date and remember to follow it.

Do not buy the flours if the expiry date is very close by.

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