Chapati - Unleavened Flatbread

Chapati, Chapatti, Chapathi or roti is an unleavened flatbread from the Indian subcontinent. Ingredient : wheat.

Chapati is a form of roti or rotta (bread). Roti or rotta refers to any flat unleavened bread, chapati is a roti made of whole wheat flour and cooked on a tava (flat skillet).

Roti is the generic name for any bread.

Chapathi is a simple bread made from whole durham wheat and water (usually no or very little oil) and is made on a griddle (thawa)

Naan is made from white flour and cooked in a tandoor or open flame. Naan or Nan is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread. 

Parathas come with a lot more oil usually added right before and during cooking and might be stuffied with spices, cheese, veggies, etc.

Parota is a very different bread, that is very flaky like a croissant and has even more oil than paratha.

Roti, Chapati & Paratha are all Indian flatbreads. They are made on a flat top griddle or tawa. They are similar but there are subtle differences:

Paratha is a North Indian flatbread that may be stuffed or not. It is usually on the thicker side and may have several layers (8-10) that are well oiled with ghee.

Naan, which is made from white flour and leavened either with a starter or with yeast. It is traditionally made in a tandoor oven.

Bhaturas are fried versions of naans. They are eaten with chole.

There are basically 5 main types of bread that you can make (or buy) and these are roti, chapati, puri, paratha and naan. Within each main bread type there are lots of different variants. For example, plain naan, garlic naan and peshwari naan.

A roti is an unleavened bread. In other words, it does not use yeast or any other ingredient to try and get it to rise. The word roti tends to cover all unleavened breads, including chapati and paratha although, just to confuse matters, there is a specific bread called roti. Traditionally, roti is made from whole meal flour (called atta flour).

Chapati (also known as chapatti and chapathi) is very similar to a roti with the main differences being that chapati is thinner and is made from whole wheat flour (rather than whole meal flour that a roti is made from). Like roti, chapati is unleavened.

Puri (also known as poori) is very similar to chapati with the main difference being that puri is deep fried, rather than pan fried. Again, puri is unleavened.

Paratha is layered chapati that is lightly fried in ghee, or oil. As well as layers being chapati, the layers can just be stuffed with vegetables such as potato, cauliflower and paneer. Seeing that paratha is a form of chapati, a paratha is also unleavened.

Naan bread is leavened bread made with white flour. The bread is usually leavened with yeast and sometimes baking powder (or a combination of both). Naan is thicker than the unleavened breads. Roti, chapati, puri and paratha are traditionally made on a tava or in a pan whereas naan is made in a tandoor. A lot of naan recipes use a conventional oven to bake the naan, seeing that not many people have a tandoor in their homes.

And what are these breads used for? Well, paratha can be a snack or meal by itself, particularly if it is stuffed with vegetables. The other breads are eaten as accompaniments for dal and curry dishes where they are eaten as a side dish, used to scoop up the food or used to clean up the plate.

What is the difference between Chapati bread and Naan bread?

Barley malt, malted barley or malt extract may contain MSG

Barley malt, malted barley or malt extract may contain MSG

Monosodium glutamate and all its hidden forms: yeast extract, TVP, hydrolyzed proteins and more

Warning: MSG could be hiding in many of your family's food choices

Why you should be concerned about MSG
Additives that frequently contain MSG

Are raw foods a source of enzymes?

Are raw foods a source of enzymes?

Once in a while I get an email admonishing me for not emphasizing raw foods as a source of digestive enzymes. Often it is pointed out to me that if we all just ate more raw foods we would not need to take enzyme supplements. 

While I appreciate their input and passion about dietary concerns, I must take issue with their argument.


Raw foods do contain enzymes. These enzymes are destroyed by cooking or processing. If you have ever canned or preserved foods, you know that it is essential to blanch or heat the food prior to canning. Otherwise the food will spoil. This is the primary function of enzymes found in fruits, vegetables, and meats as well. 

If you have ever purchased green bananas, you know that in a few days the bananas will turn yellow and taste sweeter. If you wait too long, however, you end up with a pile of brown, sticky goo that goes into the trash. 

Plant fruits contain enzymes in order that their seeds can be dispersed or sprout, using the remains of the fruit as cover or fuel for sprouting. Digestion, on the other hand, must be accomplished in a matter of hours, not days or weeks. 

If we relied solely on the enzymes in raw foods to accomplish digestion, we would be in very poor shape. 

Enzyme supplements are much more concentrated and contain many other enzymes as well. An enzyme found in a specific food is specific for the spoilage of that food. An enzyme supplement contains additional enzymes to breakdown any other foods consumed, raw or cooked.

I love raw foods. Sushi is one of my favorites and I like steaks on the rare side. I try to eat more raw veggies, too. However, I am careful with uncooked foods as the risk of bacterial contamination is higher than with properly cooked foods. Also, certain raw veggies bother my digestion.

So, I always make sure I take the appropriate enzyme supplement for the particular foods in my meal - my own enzymes, of course!  

Devin Houston, Ph.D.