Like sourdough, flatbreads have long witnessed man’s culinary history as it is one of the world’s oldest breads. Its origins can be traced to historical sites located in Iran, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt. Although, it has more variations spanning Africa and the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and America.
It takes only the most basic bread ingredients to make flatbreads: flour, water, and salt. Variations among countries included some sugar, syrups, nuts, and spices to their bread dough. Flatbreads are traditionally unleavened although people have baked the leavened flatbread recipes.
- The oldest flatbread dating 14,000 years ago was discovered in North-Eastern Jordan. This archaeological discovery was essential as historians assumed that agriculture and baking date back 4,000 years ago.
- The Sumerians and Egyptians were very fond of flatbreads made from barley. Called “Ta,” it was consumed around the 12th century BC.
- Lebanon produced the biggest flatbread in the world. Lebanese bakers made a massive mankoushe, a traditional Lebanese flatbread, measuring 144 ft long and 20 inches wide, and weighing over 330 pounds.
Flatbread Buying Guide
Flatbread is a staple of the world. It serves as one of the oldest culinary staples of every country it has originated from. European flatbreads reflect the agricultural landscape of Europe as it usually contains potatoes. Meanwhile, those fronm the Mediterranean are infused with Greek and Italian flavors. The Greek Pita and the Italian Pizza are just some of the Mediterranean flatbreads.
Middle Eastern and African varieties of flatbreads are also world-famous. Naan from them the Middle East and Chapati from Africa are often showcased in their artisan bakeries.
Asia has their flatbread such as the Roti, Chapati, Naan, and Paratha from India, Shaobing from China, Bindaetteok from South Korea, and the Piaya from the Philippines.
Flatbread Production & Farming in Texas
Texas is one of the most multiculturally diverse states in the US. Several nations and cultures diverge bestowing visitors with a kaleidoscope of practice, customs, and food history.
Depending on what type of flatbread you desire, there’s always a cultural community or an artisan bakery ready to serve your needs. Indian restaurants and bakeries produce Chapati, Naan, and Roti using unleavened wheat flour from the fertile wheat farms of Texas. The restaurants in Texas’ bustling Chinatowns serve Shaobing, and because Dallas is home to the largest Korean-American populations, you can find Bindaetteok in all Korean restaurants as it’s a staple in Korean cuisine.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Chapati, Naan, Roti, Shaobing, and Bindaetteok are traditionally eaten warm and fresh from the oven. They only use the most natural ingredients to keep the bread dough soft and pliable. However, like all other food, companies have started to commercialize the popularity of these bread by producing ready-to-eat products.
Salt is one of the world’s oldest preservatives. Often included in labels as Sodium, it is one of the building blocks of life, regulating your muscle and heart contraction, maintaining the body’s fluid and balance during sweating and excretion, and is essential for nerve and muscle movement. However, excess sodium in the body results in cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, and a loss of calcium.
All food manufacturers in Texas are required to package their products in a way that will prevent contamination and spoilage that may lead to food poisoning or other food-borne illnesses.
Flatbreads can be stacked and wrapped in sealed plastic before they can be displayed in artisan bakeries or on the grocery shelves. They can also be packaged in plastic containers sealed with customized stickers for branding. It is essential that a list of ingredients and the name of the producer should be included in their labels.
Flatbread can be eaten on its own drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can also add other toppings such as anchovies, cured meats, olives, anchovies, and sausages. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flatbreads are stuffed with grilled meat and are drizzled with pure olive oil or any flavored oils.
Texans have a unique way of eating flatbreads. They make a pizza out of flatbread crust and then add chicken breasts coated in garlic and chili powder, seasoned with salt and pepper and doused in chipotle bacon seasoning and Texas Style BBQ sauce.
Store flatbreads in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Always be cautious about contaminating the flatbreads with air as spores and molds will develop and will spoil your entire batch.
A cool and dark location is the best option for storing flatbread as sunlight will accelerate bacterial growth. Keep the flatbread away from mice, rats, ants, and other pests.
Freezing flatbreads is the most effective way of extending their shelf life. Keep it in an airtight container to prevent cold air or any humidity. Ensure that the bread is perfectly flat in the freezer or the shape will be compromised. Lay sheets of wax paper between the flatbreads to easily pull them apart when thawed.
Transfer the flatbread from the freezer to your chiller to thaw. Reheat the flatbread in the microwave or oven, sprinkling water from time to time to create steam. This will help recover the moisture lost from freezing and thawing. The steam also ensures the flatbreads have a crispy exterior and fluffy interior.
You can easily make fluffy Indian Chapati with this recipe.
2 cups whole wheat flour or drum-wheat “Atta”
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons wheat flour, for rolling and dusting
- Sieve the flour, add salt to it and mix well. Place the flour in a large bowl and add 3/4 cup of the water. Stir gently with fingers in a circular motion until the flour starts to gather. Add 1-2 tablespoons more flour if the dough looks too sticky. Add more water if it looks too dry and firm.
- Knead the flour until it becomes soft and pliable and doesn’t stick to your fingers. You can put a little oil on your hand while kneading the dough to help with kneading. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for at least 1 hour, at room temperature. You may store the dough in the refrigerator. Just thaw to room temperature before using it.
- Once ready to make chapatis, heat the griddle over medium-high heat. Divide the dough into 10-12 equal-sized dough balls. Working on one dough ball at a time. Roll a dough ball in the flour and flatten it a bit with your hands. Transfer the flatten ball to a clean flat surface, roll it with a rolling pin into a 6-7 inch disc. If the dough sticks to the surface, dust the surface with more flour.
- Place the chapati on the hot griddle and cook for 30 seconds or until tiny golden dots appear on the surface, flip over and cook the other side. Flip over again and soon the chapati will start to puff up. Use a folded kitchen towel and press gently on the puffy chapati to push the air to the flatten part of of the chapati. The whole bread should puff up into a round ball.
- Transfer the cooked chapatis to a serving platter. You may baste it with a little butter or ghee. Serve immediately.
If your chapati doesn’t puff up like a ball, it will still taste delicious. It may take a little practice to get puffy chapatis. You can also puff up the chapati on direct flame.