Who doesn’t love a good flatbread?
Whether it’s on its own or accompanying a dip, spread, stew or sauce, flatbreads of all shapes, sizes and flavors have been staples at mealtimes all over the world for millennia.
Here are just a few kinds of flatbreads that are popular around the world today — most of which are readily available nearly anywhere you go.
6 popular flatbreads from global cuisines
O’ course ya would want to hear the story behind this tasty flatbread!
This oily, herb-filled flatbread has its roots with the Etruscans of ancient Italy, back before the Roman Empire even existed! Flatbreads of all sorts already existed in the first millennium B.C., but this particular kind of recipe was distinctly Italian and moved outward along with the expansion of the Roman Empire centuries later.
In fact, focaccia is about two thousand years older than pizza, which developed in Italy only a few centuries ago!
This flatbread is one of the only breads on this list to be fried, rather than baked.
Originating in the Southwestern United States in Native American (particularly Navajo) communities, frybread is made using a simple mixture of flour, water, salt and a leavening agent such as yeast or baking powder. Once kneaded and rolled into circles, the dough is fried in hot oil until puffy and chewy.
Frybread is incredibly versatile and can be eaten with sweets like honey, syrup, fruits and desserts or with savory foods like meat, vegetables, chili, stews and much, much more.
Teff flour is the star of the show in this Ethiopian flatbread, giving the pancake-like bread a characteristic nutty and molasses-like flavor derived from the teff grain.
Injera is made by mixing flour and water with a fermented liquid similar to that of a sourdough starter. The dough — which is more of a batter than a dough, really — is then cooked like a pancake on a large, flat skillet. The cooked injera can be eaten with stews, vegetables or sauces, though it’s most often served with a traditional meaty stew called wat.
Naan. What more is there to say?
It’s the perfect accompaniment to a saucy curry, a hearty stew or a flavorful dip. A bowl of dal tadka or tikka masala would feel naked without a few pieces of naan by its side, and what better way to mop up those last few streaks of a good palak paneer than with this buttery, flaky goodness?
Naan has origins in kitchens all over the Middle East, though nowadays the recipe as it exists now is more popular in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Made with a simple mix of flour, yeast, salt, milk and water — ingredients that most flatbreads have in common— it’s the addition of ghee (clarified butter) that gives naan the buttery, moist, flaky goodness that makes it so popular in kitchens around the Indian subcontinent. The dough is shaped into a triangular teardrop-like shape and is traditionally cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor (though the flatbread is by no means restricted to that method).
Bonus tip: the word naan literally means “flatbread” not just in India, but also in a variety of languages and dialects around where it is eaten. Thus, saying “naan bread” is like saying “flatbread bread.” Naan is good all on its own, both gastronomically and grammatically!
This traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean bread is similar to naan in that it is kneaded, allowed to rise for a short time and then baked in a hot oven, though pita is made without the ghee that makes naan so unique.
Pita is a versatile bread that has its origins in the Ancient Middle East, where bakers used a simple mixture of flour and water to create a soft dough. They left the dough out in the air and allowed natural yeasts to ferment it, (kind of how they made wine back in the day!) — later, bakers used leftover yeast from the beer-brewing process to leaven their pita dough.
These pita breads are typically used as a pocket in which to stuff meats, veggies and sauces, though they are equally as useful for scooping up warm hummus or some tasty baba ghanoush.
Tortillas may as well have dropped from the heavens above for the amount of delicious foods they can create.
Tortillas are believed to have been a staple in Mexican kitchens for at least 12,000 years. In fact, the legend of the floppy flatbread states that a Mayan peasant whipped up a quick and simple corn flour bread as a gift to a hungry king.
After the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, the corn tortillas were brought back to Europe where the Spanish named them tortilla, meaning “little cake.” Since then, tortillas have been made with wheat flour, chickpea flour, squash flour and even gluten free flours!
With nothing more than flour (or corn flour), water and salt (no yeast!) tortillas are kneaded into a tough dough and pressed into circles before being cooked on a hot skillet or griddle. From there, a tortilla can be used in burritos, nachos, quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas and a million other mouthwatering dishes.
Getting hungry yet? Good! Grab one of these tasty flatbreads next time you’re at a market or restaurant, or give them a go yourself in your own kitchen! You’re sure to enjoy them either way.
Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/aedrozda