Breads are among the tastiest and most popular dishes in Indian cuisine. They not only make a nice side dish but lend themselves to be used as a type of utensil (instead of say a fork or a spoon) for scooping up rice and vegetable dishes.

In general Indian breads are composed of little more than flour, water, salt and occassionally oil or ghee kneaded in. Mostly breads are either fried on a griddle, deep fried in oil or baked in a tandoori (clay) oven.

Most of the breads are unleavened and made with wheat flour but there are variations that are made of rice flour, corn flour, refined flour, millet (bajra) flour, milo (jowar) flour, and lentil (daal) flour. The addition of daal flour increases not only the flavor of the bread, but the protein content as well.

Pooris can be made sweet or savory. The plain white flour poori recipe below makes a tasty accompaniment to any curry dish.

White Flour Poori

1 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbs. oil
1/4 tsp salt
Enough warm water
Oil to deep fry

The trick to making this puffy Indian fried bread is to have the dough rest before use and heat the oil enough (375 to 400F).

Consider the first fried poori a test poori because if your oil isn't hot enough the poori won't puff up.

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Add oil and stir in enough water and knead to make a pliable non sticky dough. Knead a minute or two. Shape into a ball. Cover with a warm towel and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile heat the oil ( about 3 inches ) in a heavy duty kettle or pot until 375/400F. You'll know when the oil is ready to use when a cube of dough thrown in will immediately sizzle and start to brown.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a large thin circle or oval. Cover pieces with a towel. Fry individually. Carefully drop dough into the hot oil. The dough will sink to the bottom and start to float to the top. Push down once gently with a spoon so dough remains covered with oil. The dough will rise and puff up. Fry until it is a pale golden color, turning once with 2 spoons or a tong . Transfer pooris to paper towels to drain. Serve immediately. A well made poori will be light and puffy with a layered dough interior.

Some poori recipes use melted butter or ghee instead of oil. Other recipes are made with part whole wheat flour. Sometimes spices (such as coriander or oregano etc. ) are added. Poori recipes may also be made with yogurt or mashed potatoes. Some add baking powder or baking soda as a leavener.

Try this basic recipe and then experiment with other recipes until you find your favorite.

Above basic recipe yields 4 large pooris. You may double it if desired. Pooris are best eaten immediately as they are soft, tender and airy. They harden as they cool.