Kulcha is another popular flat bread from the Indian subcontinent. This is the flat bread you get more often from street food vendors served with a variety of spicy curries. If you have friends from Delhi , chances are they have a favorite street food joint that sells spicy chole and kulcha .
Kulcha and Naan Kulcha is very similar to Naan . Both are soft leavened flat breads. Naans are made in Tandoor in a very hot oxygen depleted environment while kulchas are made on a regular griddle. the leavening agents are different too. Naan is leavened with yeast either from a sour culture (old dough sourdough Naan) or packaged yeast, where as Kulcha is leavened with chemical leavening agents – baking soda or powder. It is important to note that all these distinctions do not hold much water in today’s culinary world . Your neighborhood fast food stall may be offering tandoori kulcha, or Naan without yeast. Go figure !!
I am sticking to the more traditional definition of Kulcha today. I like this bread as it s easy to make at home and tastes delicious. In some respects it is even better than the Naan – you can stuff anything (well almost !) you want in it . Make potato stuffed kulcha, paneer stuffed kulcha , peas , onions , just go with it 🙂
Kulcha dough is lightly enriched with oil/ghee and yogurt. If looking for a diary free version , use almond milk and a dash of lemon juice. Mix the flour with salt, baking soda, yogurt and oil and knead adding enough water to make a dough . Knead for 5 more minutes. As you need the dough should relax and feel softer than when you started kneading . Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 1 to 2 hours , or longer up to 4 hours . If planning to keep it even longer place in the refrigerator and take out 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking.
Take about a lemon sized piece of dough and roll into a smooth ball. If you are planning to use stuffing this is the the time to add it . Gently flatten and stretch the dough into a 4 inch diameter circle and place the fillings inside and close .
Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough into a 6 to 8 inch disc. If using dry toppings brush the top with a little water and sprinkle toppings. This helps the toppings to stick on better as well as prevent burning. Any moist topping – minced garlic , onions etc , can be pressed on the top. If needed gent
Place the Kulcha on a hot tawa or griddle . When bubbles appear on top brush with a little oil/ghee and flip. Brush oil on the other side and finish cooking by flipping one or twice more as needed. When done there should be golden brown spots on both sides.
I have used only baking soda as leavening. Some of the baking soda reacts with the acidity in the yogurt and aerates the dough as it rests. Since the yogurt is only mildly acidic there is enough baking soda left over to react with the heat and produce CO2. The amount of baking soda used in this recipe is enough for the leavening without leaving any residual after taste. If you are not using any acidic ingredient at all , use baking powder instead of baking soda.