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Author Notes: A cousin of naan, kulcha, the north Indian Punjabi flatbread, is less well known, but it is easier and simpler to make because it doesn’t include yeast. Kulcha is ideally served with spicy beans, dals, and (most famously) chole masala, which is spice-braised chickpeas. Ideally made in a tandoor oven, kulcha can be made on a griddle on the stove top or on the flat top of a wood- burning grill. If you develop the right touch, you can even make them using your broiler. You can also try this with amaranth or mustard greens.
I serve kulcha with everything I can think of: as a flatbread for shashlik (a form of shish kebab), in the place of tortillas for tacos al pastor, and rolled around grilled sausage with peppers and onions.
This is an adaptation of Andrew Zimmern’s recipe. I like his version because of the abundance of chiles in it. I added greens, which makes the bread a little fatter and a little more substantial.
Reprinted with permission from The Book of Greens (Ten Speed Press 2017). —Jenn Louis
Makes 8 flatbreads
- 3 cups (420 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) water, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) neutral vegetable oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 green onion, green and white parts minced
- 2 tablespoons minced serrano chile with seeds
- 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 cups (60 grams) loosely packed celtuce leaves, thinly sliced (or replace with amaranth or mustard greens)
- Ghee or clarified butter, for brushing
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, the baking powder, and the baking soda. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the yogurt, water, and oil until the dough starts to come together. Add additional water, a tablespoon at a time, as needed until the dough comes together (2 to 3 tablespoons more). Using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl until it is mostly smooth, soft, and tender without being sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
- In a bowl, mix together the shallot with the green onions, serrano, ginger, sesame seeds, fennel, cumin, oregano, and celtuce.
- Unwrap the dough and cut into eight pieces. Roll out one piece of dough into an 8-inch (20-centimeter) round. Spoon one-eighth of the shallot mixture onto the center of the round, then season the mixture lightly with salt. Roll up the round into a cylinder. Now, starting at one end, coil the cylinder into a spiral reminiscent of a snail shell. Flatten the spiral gently with your hand and then roll out the filled dough into a 7-inch (17-centimeter) round.
- Preheat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Melt 1 to 2 tablespoons ghee in the skillet, then carefully lay a kulcha in the pan. Decrease the heat to medium and cook, turning once, until the flatbread is puffed and charred in spots, about 4 minutes total. The dough should be golden and cooked through and the outside of the flatbread should be crispy. Add 1 tablespoon additional ghee to the pan to cook the second side and raise the heat slightly if the flatbread does not become crisp. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough and shallot mixture. Serve warm.