7 Ways South Indians Eat Flatbreads

South India too loves flatbreads and these versions are proof!

Annabelle D’Costa

The South Indians and their love affair with rice is a story that needs no special introduction. But other cereals and grains such as millets, jowar or sorghum and barley find its way into south Indian meals. There’s no denying that the chapati and its many avatars do make an appearance in a South Indian household. We take a look at how the chapati has been sneaked into the south Indian kitchen:


A gluten-free chapati variant, the bhakri is common in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and some parts of central India. Bhakris can be made using bajra (pearl millet), ragi (finger millet or nachni), sorghum or even rice flours. Most of these flours are gluten-free and require a lot of practice. The key to perfecting them lies in the addition of hot water to make the dough easy to roll. While they are ideally flattened between the palms of one’s hand, you can also use a rolling pin and a parchment paper or plastic sheet for help. Remember, your bhakris don’t have to be as thin as your chapatis and will always be a bit coarser. They are best had with chutney or thecha, pitla or any sabzis of your choice.


The orotti is a type of chapati which is made with rice flour and grated coconut. In Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and also in some parts of Sri Lanka, the orotti is called the Pol Roti. Orottis are thicker, served with a spicy and meaty curry for breakfast, and can be washed down with a cup of chai. Some variations of the orotti also include the liberal addition of ingredients such as shallots and cumin seeds, while binding the dough. 

Ari Pathiri

The ari pathri or ari pathil is made using raw rice flour, and are soft and thin, hence the name. A specialty of the Muslims from the Malabar region in Kerala, the pathiri makes a festive appearance during Iftar, after the Ramadan fast, and is typically had with some spicy and meat curry or gravy. The rice roti, in general, is also savoured with equal delight in other parts of the country–it’s called Tandalachi Bhakri in Goa and Maharashtra, Chokha na Rotla in Gujarat and Akki Roti in the south. The chawal ki roti also finds its way into authentic Bihari cuisine, where it is had alongside a sabzi. While the rice roti may have different names, in all the places the process of making these rotis is the same. These rotis do require a little practice to make owing to the stickiness of the dough and the lack of gluten.  But once you’ve mastered them, you can up the ante by trying out versions such as meen pathiri (with fish), erachi pathiri (with meat), masala pathiri and also nei pathiri (with coconut). 

(Also read: Chasing The Monsoon Ticklers From Kerala )

Akki Roti

Akki which literally translates to rice bread, is a roti made from ground rice, either white or brown rice, and relished in almost every Kannadiga home. The dough is also flavoured with other ingredients such as chana dal, freshly ground coconut, onions, coriander leaves, chillies, and other dry spices. Traditionally, these rotis are flattened on a white cotton cloth or on a banana leaf, however you can opt for a baking sheet or a parchment paper. Simply toss onto a tawa and top with some butter or ghee.

Thalipeeth or Thalipith 

Thalipeeth is a Maharashtrian chapati-cum-pancake made with multi grain flours such as white millet, whole wheat and Bengal gram, thereby adding to its nutritive value. Apart from these flours, other ingredients include tomatoes, onions, coriander leaves and dry spices, enhancing the taste of these chapatis. There are two ways to it: Combine all the ingredients and convert into a thick batter-like consistency, and then poured onto a hot tawa. Or knead into a soft pliable dough and then flatten your dough balls using the palms of your hands. Thalipeeth makes for a great breakfast option or an on-the-go snack simply when finished off with some butter or dry garlic chutney.

Pooran Poli 

Festivals in Maharashtra are incomplete without the pooran poli or puran puri, a traditional sweet dish made by combining split yellow gram and plain flour along with jaggery or sugar, cardamom powder and/or nutmeg powder, ghee and water. On the other hand, in Gujarat, the poli is made using tur or toovar dal. Down south, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu too turn to toor dal or togari bele; what sets their polis apart is the addition of grated coconuts. Puran poli can be eaten as a quick snack as it is, and can also be served alongside some pickle or vegetable for a filling and delicious main meal.


Also known as barotta, this type of chapati is made using all-purpose flour or maida, and is popular especially in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. While kneading the dough, a generous amount of ghee gets added, which helps make the parottas soft and flaky (diet-watchers, beware). The dough is then allowed to rest and then divided into small balls. Then comes the best part, the process wherein the dough is stretched with hands and then beaten onto a greased table until it reaches a paper-thin consistency. After being stretched into a large paper-thin sheet, there are two ways to go ahead. For the veechu parotta, the sheet is folded into a rectangle and cooked. At times, a whole egg is broken in and then the sheet is folded, so that when the parotta cooks, the egg is stuffed inside. The surul parotta, on the other hand, resembles the North Indian Laccha Paratha, wherein the stretched dough is rolled multiple times so as to form layers.

Images: Shutterstock


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