Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Matar or Chola Kulcha - A lightly leavened flatbread #BBB


This month, our Bread Baking Babe Aparna has picked a delicious Indian street food and bread for us to try.  We made Matar Kulchas or Chola Kulchas, which is a flatbread and a spicy salad of sorts with well-cooked white peas or a cooked curry.  I went with the cooked curry option and as I used chickpeas instead of white peas, mine is a Chola Kulcha.  (Matar is the Hindi word for peas and Chole/Chola is chickpeas.) The kulcha is a leavened, soft and fluffy flat bread. Well actually there are a number of types of kulcha, which is similar to naan, but I really like it better!  This kulcha is more similar to naan than some recipes in that it is yeast leavened as opposed to using chemical leaveners like baking powder and soda.  This is a stove top recipe, (naan tends to be cooked in a tandoor where possible), and kulchas are generally round where naans are oblong.  Oops, I made mine oblong.  Doesn't really matter though, what matters is that this is a delicious, soft and fluffy flatbread that is definitely worth trying.

We learned that there are different types of Kulchas, all of which are flat breads. The type we made is soft and spongy. There is also a Bread Kulcha with the texture of bread. And Amritsari Kulcha, which is a flat bread stuffed with a spiced potato filling.

This Kulcha recipe yields a dough that is more loose and sticky than usual for a flatbread.  I did not roll mine out after the first attempt (too sticky, even floured) and simply (and easily) pressed them out flat with my hands.  Kulchas are usually topped with nigella seeds, (also known as Kalonji, black caraway, black onion seed, and charnushka), and dried fenugreek leaves, (Kasuri methi), or chopped fresh coriander/cilantro leaves before cooking.  I keep my nigella seeds in the fridge since I don't use them all that often.  I really should use them more as they add wonderfully subtle flavor.  

Interestingly for me, tasting this bread gave me a huge sense of nostalgia and reminded me heavily of the fry bread that we used to make over the fire in the old cook kit when we went camping as a child.  Who knows just why, possibly because of a hint of smokey/cumin flavor from the seeds, possibly texture though I am sure these are fluffier than what we made in the mountains.  I love food that does that though, the nostalgia hit.  Now I am going to have to call mom and ask about that old recipe.  How did we fry in the mountains??  Oil is heavy.  Maybe we only did it when drive in camping and not hiking in spots.  Hmmm.  (Okay, mom said we packed in a block of lard to melt and use to fry the dough.  That was at Mildred Lakes in the Olympics when I was probably around 6 or 7.)  Oh full disclosure, I was running out of time and didn't do the overnight pre-ferment time and so I added a pinch each of baking soda and baking powder to my dough for insurance.  Probably didn't need it by the time I got to actually cooking them, but it was there.  Maybe an eighth of a teaspoon each.

Well we'd love for you to join us this month for our bake!  No blog is necessary to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished flatbread to our host kitchen by the 30th of this month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.
Kulcha (Flat Bread)
makes 6
For the Pre-Ferment:
½ tsp instant or active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
For the Dough:
All of the Pre-ferment
½ tsp instant or active dry yeast
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp plain yogurt
½ tsp salt
1½ tbsp ghee (or soft unsalted butter)

More water, if needed for a soft dough

For the Topping :

Nigella seeds or black sesame seeds
Dried Fenugreek leaves or chopped fresh coriander leaves/ cilantro (I used dried cilantro)
Ghee or unsalted butter for cooking the Kulchas
To make the flat bread:

Make the Pre-ferment (previous night or early in the morning):

Mix together the yeast, water, sugar and all-purpose flour with a whisk until smooth in a large bowl. Cover and leave on the kitchen counter overnight to ferment.  (If you want to make Kulchas for dinner, then do this early in the morning and allow it to ferment for about 8 to 10 hours depending on your ambient room temperature.)  A word of caution from our host - Kulchas can be a little heavy for dinner.

Make the Dough (some time next morning) :

The Khameer/pre-ferment should have risen well and will appear quite stringy. Mix in the ½ tsp of yeast, all-purpose flour, yogurt, salt and a little water.  Mix until a soft, sticky, and loose dough forms. A mixer is not necessary, a wooden spoon, your hand or a dough whisk is sufficient.

Add the ghee or soft butter and mix once again until well incorporated.  Shape into a loose round and leave in the bowl.  Cover loosely and let rise until almost double in volume, an hour or so.

Knead the dough lightly to de-gas it. Then divide into 6 equal portions. Lightly flour your working surface, if required, and roll out each portion into a circle or oblong of less than 1/4 “ thickness. Sprinkle some Nigella seeds and dried fenugreek leaves or coriander leaves/ cilantro and lightly press into the rolled out dough. 


Heat a griddle or flat pan and place the rolled dough on it. Sprinkle a little water on the sides of the griddle/ pan (not on the dough) and cover. Cook the flat bread for a minute or so. 


Now remove the cover and cook on the other side as well. If not serving immediately, cook till here and keep aside. 

When ready to serve proceed further with cooking in ghee or butter as follows. Brush some ghee or unsalted butter on both sides and cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Repeat with remaining portions. Serve hot. 

I used the matar recipe from this video that was mentioned by our host and as I used chickpeas, mine became chola.  So mine was a hot, cooked curry.  What follows are the recipes for the cooled matar/chola that our host uses, plus extra condiments.  (It reminds me of a chunky, hummus textured addition and I would love to try this one out with proper white peas!)  The additional chutneys can be made ahead and refrigerated. You can also cook the white peas or chickpeas, mash, and refrigerate a day ahead. 

For the Matar or Chola :

2 cups white peas or chickpeas soaked overnight
Enough water to cook the peas or chickpeas
pinch of baking soda
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 fresh Green chilies finely chopped (to taste)
1 large tomato finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves/ cilantro
2 tbsp finely sliced ginger, julienned
1 tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste

For the Green-Mint Coriander Chutney :

A handful of fresh coriander leaves
A handful of mint leaves
2 or 3 green chilies
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt to taste

For the Sweet and Sour Tamarind Chutney :

1 cup tamarind pulp, thick
¾ - 1 cup powdered jaggery
½ cup loosely packed seedless dates finely chopped
2 tbsp golden raisins chopped
1½ tsp chili powder or to taste
1 tsp cumin powder
Salt or black salt to taste
For the Matar or Chola :

Cook dried peas, beans and lentils in a pressure cooker or preferred method to end up with peas or chickpeas that are cooked until really soft and almost mushy. Cook the white peas or chickpeas with enough water and a pinch of baking soda until soft and almost mushy.  Drain and discard the water.  Let  cool completely.

Add salt to taste and mash using a large spoon or a masher, until quite mushy. There should be no whole peas or chickpeas but should still retain a slightly chunky texture.

To make the Matar or Chola, put the mashed peas into a bowl. Add the chopped onion, tomato, green chilies, cilantro leaves, and mix everything together. Also mix in cumin powder, taste and add more salt if required.

To serve, transfer individual portions of the Matar or Chola on to plates and garnish with a little onion, green chilies, tomato, ginger, a pinch of roasted cumin powder, and cilantro leaves. Top with drizzles of green and sweet and sour chutneys.  Serve it with hot kulcha.

For the Green Coriander-Mint Chutney :

Grind together a handful of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves and tender stems, an equal amount of mint leaves, green chilies, salt and a dash of lime juice with just a little water until smooth.

This chutney should be savoury, on the spicier side with a little tang and a bit watery in texture. Adjust all the ingredients to taste. This will keep in the fridge for a week.

For the Sweet and Sour Tamarind Chutney :

Put the tamarind pulp and jaggery in a pan. Over medium heat, stir the mixture till the jaggery dissolves. Now add all the remaining ingredients and cook till the chutney thickens a bit and takes on a shiny appearance. Allow to cool and use as needed. This chutney keeps in the fridge for a while.

The amounts of tamarind, jaggery, chilli powder and salt may be adjusted as required. This chutney should be sweet, sour and spicy. 

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes




  1. I like your oblong shapes and that curry looks great! Thanks for sharing your trip down memory lane. I'd be curious to know how you fried in the mountains as well.

  2. Yours is sooooo fluffy! I was tempted to make curry too. Love your story too about your food memory.

  3. How did you fry in the mountains? Where were you in the mountains? That's a fabulous way with food!
    I really am trying these again, yours are so fluffy and Aparna's salsa looks so gorgeous!

    1. Aha, mom said they packed in a block of lard to melt and fry it in. We hiked in to Mildred Lakes in the Olympic mountains. We might have done it at Upper and Lower Lena Lakes in the Olympics as well. I remember spreading jam on the hot fry bread. So yummy after a hike and a campfire dinner!

  4. Look at those beautiful bubbles!! Nicely done, Kelly. Your kulcha look gorgeous. And. Isn't chickpea curry delicious?

    Oooooh!! You got to fry your bread in lard when you were camping? How clever is your mom?! When I was a kid, we used butter (poor us. ;-) ) to fry already baked sliced bread when we were camping in the mountains.

  5. Those look like they were fun to make - and eat. I love fried breads but haven't made any in years! Maybe now....

  6. Your Kulchas are perfect and fluffy, Kelly. It doesn't really matter whether they're round or oblong.

  7. Kelly you`re fantastic. I love your work, keep it up please.

    Grain Mashing


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