Skip to content

Tortillas “De la India”

May 9, 2016

Curried tortillas


Thank you very much to those of you who have visited Chicano artist Roberto Gonzalez’ website!  My interview with him is in the works and will be posted here at “Bread and Tortillas.”  If you haven’t yet had a chance to explore his site, please do so at  He greatly appreciates the visits!

These delicious and unusual tortillas with the whimsical title are a kind of prelude to what’s to follow, which is a recipe involving a wok, a very rustic Mexican ingredient, and one of Sonal’s  fabulous spice mixes, a curry masala.   Her wonderful blog is at I had to do justice to the masterful blend of Indian spices she so generously took time to send me.  These tortillas are designed to accompany the dish I came up with using her mix.

What I can tell from looking at recipes and photos,  chapatis are the Indian flatbread which most resemble the Mexican tortilla.  At their most simple and basic they involve atta, oil or ghee (optional), salt,  and water.  Atta is an Indian style whole wheat flour which give chapatis their particular taste and texture.  The dough is portioned and rolled out to a flat thin round shape then cooked on a special griddle.  This sounds like a very close relative to the tortilla.

Some of you might remember my cilantro and serrano pepper tortillas from a while back.  I removed the serrano peppers and added turmeric and ground toasted red chillis to the recipe for a taste that might remind one of India.   The dried red chillis, which I found to be very flavorful, moderate to high in heat,  and slightly sweet, are a product of India.  They are a distinct variety from the Mexican ones I’m familiar with. The one teaspoon of turmeric is just enough to give a nice color and slight flavor to the tortilla.  I tried to imagine other Indian spices in the recipe, but ultimately decided on keeping it simple .  Using fenugreek leaves instead of cilantro sounded intriguing but where was I going to find fresh fenugreek?

I also made a batch using a 50-50 mix of all-purpose flour and sifted whole wheat flour.  I used 2 tablespoons of a neutral flavored oil, grapeseed, instead of vegetable shortening. This was a dough I believed to be closer to what a chapati would resemble.  It turned out tasty and much healthier,  I just preferred the flavor of the 100% all-purpose recipe.  I found out that atta is a lighter textured and sweeter tasting whole wheat flour than ours because of the milling process.  I need to visit our specialty market soon!


For 10 tortillas:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted and ground dried red chillis (3 Indian chillis)

3/4 to 1 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro

1 good full teaspoon salt

about 3/4 cup warm water


A couple of twists of black pepper from a pepper mill would be a nice addition to the recipe.  (See Roberto’s comment below).  Oil could also be substituted for the vegetable shortening. though you will likely have to adjust the amount of water. Start with less than 3/4 cup water.

Place the flour and shortening in a mixing bowl.  Using your fingertips, work the shortening into the flour until thoroughly blended. Mix in the turmeric, ground chillis, and salt.  Next add the cilantro and mix in well.  Pour in the water and blend well to make a loose dough.  Put it on your work station and begin kneading. Go at it for about 4 to 5 minutes or until it becomes smooth.  We are not looking for elasticity,  just smoothness.  Add water or flour as needed to make a dough that is neither wet or dry.  Experience is the best teacher.  Divide the dough into 10 portions and form each into a round. Cover with plastic and let rest for 30 to 45 minutes.



Get your griddle, comal, heavy pan, or iron skillet hot over medium heat.  Take one of the rested portions and roll out with your rolling pin to about 6 inches in diameter.  Place it on the hot comal. A few bubbles will probably begin to form.   Turn it over after about 45 seconds to a minute.   There should a few brown spots.  Turn it over once more after a minute or so and let cook another 30 seconds or so.  Just make sure it’s not overdone.  You know what a tortilla looks like!  A lot will depend on how hot the comal is and how moist the tortilla dough is.



This is a flatbread with an identity crisis! Or maybe it’s comfortable in 2 worlds.  More likely it’s somewhere in between.  The title, by the way,  in case you missed it,  is a kind of play on words,  “Tortillas ‘from India'”   or   “Tortillas ‘from the Mexican native Indian woman.'”


I bet this would go nicely with Mexican or curried lentils.  However…

Next up on the prep table will be my recipe using Sonal’s curry masala!








10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2016 12:57 am

    Great mixtura! If I may, Black Pepper has been shown to activate the healing compound in Tumeric (Curcumin) at a much higher level so it might be something to include Black Pepper in the recipe, and add to the flavor profile? It is not critical but a thought. I love mixturas, it is fun to discover new elements and relationships…Great post! Thanks also for the kind mention!

  2. May 9, 2016 1:06 am

    Roberto, in fact, black pepper was the only other possible addition that occurred to me. A few twists from a pepper mill would do the trick. Thank you! I’ll add the suggestion to the post.

  3. May 9, 2016 1:57 am

    OMG Gerard…these are so good! I pond the recipe and is much closer to Indian Theplas which use atta and fenugreek leaves. I love it when we connect 2 cultures through food and this is a superb example of the unity in diversity! ❤️
    Can’t wait to see the use of curry spices now 😀❤️

    • May 9, 2016 2:14 am

      Some flatbreads seem to go hand in hand! Dried fenugreek is easy to get but I imagine fresh is much preferred. I’ll have to keep looking. Checking out theplas, I see how it is more similar to these tortillas. I hadn’t seen these before. Thank you for the info Sonal! It also gives me other possible ingredients to add. I also love finding connections between cultures in food!

    • May 9, 2016 9:04 pm

      You are very kind friend! There is always something new to learn about breads and flatbreads.

  4. May 9, 2016 5:46 am

    They look fab! Some might think that a flatbread is a flatbread, but we know that flatbreads are not all created equal!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: