Making gluten-free flat breads can be challenging, especially if you come from a culture like mine, which loves scooping up curries with flatbreads. Flexibility and strength is required and in the absence of gluten this often results in flatbreads which crumble.
The key I found was to mix gluten-free self raising flour with an equal quantity of gram flour (besan). I used Dove's brand of self raising flour, which helped create the flexibility and strength I was looking for. Gram flour has its unique and delicious taste. It's rich in fibre and protein too however gram flour is too crumbly on its own to make flatbreads. In South Asia when making besan roti (gram flour flat bread), gram flour is mixed with whole wheat flour, which provides the strength and flexibility so it definitely needs an equivalent gluten free addition.
You can make your own mix of gluten free flours using flours like rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat in the right quantities and there are plenty of recipes out on the Internet to try. I used Dove's brand of self raising flour, which gave the flatbread an overall slight lift plus the addition of xanthan gum acts as an additional glue. If you have sensitivities to xanthan gum then use a gluten-free flour mix, which does not have the addition of binders like xanthan gum, guar gum etc or try using psyllium husks (a teaspoon for each cup of gluten free flour).
To cook these flat breads you will definitely need a cast iron pan (tava), which is used to cook traditional chapattis and roti with. The temperature needs to be high enough for successfully cooking flat breads. I've tried using a frying pan but it just doesn't heat up to the right temperatures plus I had to melt some fat in the pan to prevent sticking whilst cooking, which gave a greasy feel to the flat bread. Tava's are widely available from ethnic stores and are worth investing in if you want to make good flatbreads.
My tava. I gave it a good clean first which helps to prevent sticking.
1 cup Dove's gluten free self raising flour
1 cup gram flour (besan)
Optional Seasonings (unrefined salt, black pepper, dried herbs, mustard seeds etc)
Water to make a batter
- I first switched on my cooker to heat up my cast iron pan (tava). It's really important to have the right cooking temperature.
- I then sifted a cup of gram flour into a bowl as it can get lumpy
- Next I add the same quantity of Dove's gluten free flour
- I added some additional seasonings. This is entirely optional.
I mixed in a teaspoon of mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt, 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger powder (helps prevent bloating) and a little pomegranate powder (adds a nice tang).
- Next I mixed in enough water to create a batter, which was thick enough to coat a spoon but thin enough to pour.
- I checked the heat of my tava by pouring on a little batter. If it cooks straight away this means that the tava is hot enough.
- Now that my tava was hot enough, I poured on around 1/4 cup of the batter and then immediately spread it out in a circular motion using the back of a ladle.
- Once one side was cooked, I used a fish-slice (spatula) to turn it over. If the flat bread doesn't come away easily it needs to cook a little longer.
- Now I cooked the other side until the there were some brown spots and the colour had lightened.
- I continued making the flatbreads until all the batter was used up. The trick is to maintain the correct heat during the cooking process. I adjusted the heat by turning the gas flame up/down and by taking the tava off the heat for a few seconds if it was getting too hot.
You can spread these flatbreads with toppings like avocado, hummus, pesto, pate or you could fill them with fillings like chicken, salad, avocado, rice/beans and pesto and roll them up to make a gluten free wrap. You could also eat these flatbreads warm with curries, soups or stews.
I had mine with some potato/cauliflower curry. They were definitely strong and flexible enough to pick up the curry without falling apart or crumbling.
The beauty of these flat breads is that they can pre-prepared in advance, cooled and then stored flat in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. They may then be re-heated up on the tava when you need them plus they could even be frozen.
Once you get the hang of making these they are so much easier to prepare than tradition wheat based flatbreads where you need to first make a dough, roll them out and then cook.
Happy flatbread making