Naan, Paratha, Roti, Chapati

What’s the difference between all these Indian breads then? I’m forever looking this up. Turns out that it’s difficult to build a consensus, so a quick search for the same query a month later might return a different answer.

So I wanted to make my own guide here, with pictures to follow as I take them. Definitely open to constructive comments and guidance on this piece!

Rotis and chapatis are commonly (but not always) considered to be the same, with geographical region being more important than any actual difference. That said, I gather oil is more likely to be involved in southern India. I’ve done my best to produce a definition here regardless.


Roti feels like the most basic, so a good place to start. It is unleavened bread, which means it does not contain any raising agents. It should be made from wholemeal flower, and is always made from wheat flower. A disc of this dough is rolled flat, and cooked in a dry pan.


Similar to roti. Wholemeal flour seems to be more of a requirement here. There’s a tendency to cook in a pan that is lightly greased, whereas a roti is always dry. Chapati should be flattened by hand, and is sometimes folded once or twice to give it two or four layers.


A paratha is made from a number of layers of flower, and is well oiled with ghee, giving it substantially more flavour than roti and chapati.


Naan is leavened bread, so it is made from dough that contains yeast, and probably some dairy such as milk or yogurt. Naan should be cooked in a tandoor. This makes it notably thicker and perhaps fluffier than the other breads listed here. Naan is usually served brushed with butter or ghee.

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