23 types of flatbreads from around the world
Bread is of course known as the staff of life and around the world bread is a staple in most cultures.
Flatbreads, in particular, were the first bread ever developed. Early evidence on ancient foods shows that our ancestors were cooking flatbread over 75,000 years ago. These days flatbreads are considered international bread as they are more and more common worldwide.
What are flatbreads?
Flour and water are mixed to create a flatbread which was then cooked on a fire-heated rock and these have been a staple for centuries. Bread around the world includes the tortilla in Mexico, in the US and Canada first nations people made frybread and taught the settlers how to make this bread. In Scotland, it was oatcakes, India Chapatti, Ireland boxty, Ethiopia makes injera and in Israel and Jewish communities worldwide matzoh.
In the Caribbean food culture, the Indian flatbread roti has become a staple and it is used in one of the most popular street foods you can find in the region. The roti shell itself is either plain or is called a dahl puri roti which simply means that yellow split peas are incorporated into the bread dough. The filling is usually a coconut West Indian style curry of goat, chicken or vegetables.
There are as many of these different breads around the world as there are countries. Food scientists estimate that over 1.5 billion people eat flatbread and it is the most consumed bread category in the world.
There are some who argue that a flatbread should not be leavened with yeast but I say as long as it’s flat it’s a flatbread right?
- 23 types of flatbreads from around the world
- What are flatbreads?
- Types of flatbread
- Armenian lavash
- Injera Ethiopia
- Barbari from Iran
- Pita Middle Eastern
- Punjabi Paratha
- Indian Sheermal
- Corn Tortillas
- Proziaki Poland
- Torta al Testo (Umbria)
- Chole Bathure Pakistan
- Dosa Singapore
- Damper Australia
- Chapati Nepal
- Mana’eesh Lebanon
- Potato Bread N. Ireland
- Native American Fry bread
- Roti Canai Malaysia
- Pane Caracau Sardinia
- Flour Tortillas N. America
- Kottu Roti Sri Lanka
- Roghni Naan Pakistan
- Fetira from Ethiopia
Types of flatbread
Lagana (λαγάνα) is a Greek flatbread that is different from the other ones on this list because it’s only made once a year. Bakeries all over Greece make this bread only for “Clean Monday” the first day of Lent. What’s more, bakeries don’t sell anything else on that day and most other places are closed as it’s a holiday.
It is customary even for people who do not fast to buy a few loaves of Lagana every year. And because Clean Monday is a holiday that is associated with flying kites, Lagana is a perfect bread to bring along for a picnic.
All that’s needed to make Lagana are flour, water, yeast (which was originally not used!), sugar, salt, olive oil, and sesame seeds. The sesame is the topping to this oval-shaped flatbread. It’s important to never cut Lagana with a knife as this is supposed to bring bad luck. Instead, you should tear off a piece with your hands. People often eat it with olives, although I prefer to just dip it in some olive oil. But you can also eat Lagana completely plain or eat it with any type of dip you want to eat. Just make sure you finish your Lagana on the same day because it gets hard very quickly.
Vegans will be happy to know that Lagana is almost always vegan so when all the vegan restaurants in Athens are closed on Clean Monday you can simply indulge in loaves and loaves of Lagana. From Nina at LemonsandLuggage – Look Nina up on Instagram
My favourite flatbread is Armenian lavash, a soft, unleavened bread cooked in a traditional clay oven called a tonir.
To make lavash, a simple dough of wheat flour and water is kneaded into a ball then rolled into a thin layer. It’s then stretched over a custom-made cushion, which is in turn used to ‘slap’ the lavash onto the wall of the tonir. The paper-thin bread takes less than 60 seconds to cook through; you know it’s ready when bubbles start to form on the surface.
Lavash is ubiquitous throughout Armenia and served with almost every meal. The best way to eat lavash is piping hot straight from the oven with a simple dressing of soft cow’s cheese and fresh herbs. This is exactly how I ate it when I visited a traditional lavash baker on the outskirts of Yerevan and saw the whole process for myself.
Another place to try traditional Armenian lavash bread is at the GUM Market, the capital’s main produce market. Here, women make and sell massive sheets of lavash on a daily basis.
The act of preparing lavash is so integral to Armenian culture, it was inscribed as an element of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2014. From Emily of Wander-Lush
Injera, an important component and literally the cornerstone of every traditional Ethiopian meal is one of my favourite flatbreads from around the world. It could be yours too. You just need to have one bite and you will be a fan for life.
A sourdough bread made out of teff flour, the injera is thin, brown, porous, and slightly spongy.
At every meal, the injera is laid on a huge round eating plate called the gebeta. Ethiopians share a single gebeta at their meals. Which means everyone gets to eat from the same plate. Eating together and feeding each other is an essential part of Ethiopian culture.
Once the injera is laid on the gebeta, small portions of various Ethiopian stews or wats, sautéed vegetables, and salads are placed over it. You can tear a piece of Injera, scoop up a little wat with it, and relish the dish.
I love my injera with some spicy Shiro Wat, a delectable chickpea powder stew that I highly recommend. I also love Ethiopian chicken stew locally known as the Doro Wat.
Apart from these, there are over a hundred other vegetarian and non-vegetarian options in the Ethiopian cuisine that you can try your injera with. Think lentils, vegetables, and beef. Just takes a couple of samplings to figure out which is your favourite go-to stew with the injera. Soumya from Stories by Soumya
Barbari from Iran
Iran is an expert in flatbreads with more than 4 common varieties that play a big role in Persian cuisine. Baked on stones, flaky or baked in a tandoor and then there are other varieties using different traditional baking techniques. There is always a long line of people at the bakeries to buy them still warm from the oven.
My personal favourite is barbari. Persian nan e barbari distinguishes itself for being relatively thick with a crispy crust on the outside, but being soft and fluffy on the inside. It is often topped with sesame seeds and nigella seeds for the final touch.
When it is fresh from the oven, it is so delicious that you can eat it without anything. However, you can also eat it the Persian way with some white cheese and herbs for breakfast or with kebab for lunch and dinner.
Its origins lie with the Hazara people in northeastern Iran who made this bread for centuries before it moved to Tehran and the rest of Iran during the Qajar era. It is now so popular in the country that abroad Nan e barbari is simply known as Persian flatbread. From Ellis of Backpack Adventures – Look for Ellis on Instagram
Pita Middle Eastern
Pita is probably the most common flatbread you will come across in the Middle East. It is made with flour, salt, water and yeast mixed together and kneaded. Once that is done, it is divided into portions the size of a tennis ball which are allowed to rest until they grow inside, before being cooked in an oven.
Pita is eaten on a regular basis in countries such as Egypt, Palestine, Israel and Jordan. A simple way to enjoy it as soon as it comes out of the oven is with an abundant dose of olive oil and copious amounts of za’atar, a mix of herbs easily found in this part of the world.
A common way to have it is stuffed (much like a sandwich) with all sorts of fillings such as shawarma, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and onions, or even falafel and accompanying sauces such as tahini.
Yet, the best way to enjoy pita bread is with hummus, a dip made of chickpeas, olive oil, lemon, tahini and a hint of garlic that Middle Eastern people enjoy as a breakfast meal. This is one of the most common food in Israel (though Palestinians will dispute that it is cultural appropriation). From Claudia of My Adventures across the world.
There are more than 50 different types of parathas throughout India. The most incredible, to my mind, is to be found in the Punjabi city of Amristar. The name paratha comes from the combination of two words – “Parat” and “atta” – relating to the flour and the cooked layerings of the dough. Here it’s usually called Laccha Paratha, where the laccha means layered.
Here, in Punjab, it is traditionally eaten for breakfast with a drink of the yoghurt based drink, Lassi. It’s also paired most frequently with a dhal. Paratha is a golden brown and is made with whole wheat flour and ghee and is usually shallow fried. The layers are formed by the frequent folding of the dough as it rolled out, whilst being smeared with ghee. It is divine. From Sarah of A Social Nomad
The Mughals of India have ceased to exist but their legacy lives in the cuisine. Sheermal, a sweetened and rich flatbread from the northern part of India is one such remnant of Mughal’s heydays!
Sheermal came from the Persian Gulf to India through the silk route sometime in the medieval age. Sheermal became a staple at the Mughal court of Delhi. After the Mughals ceased to hold power, the Nawab of Awadh and the Nizams of Hyderabad enjoyed Sheermal from the Karigars, royal chefs who travelled all over India in search of livelihood.
The dough is made with flour and milk. Not a sprinkle of water is used. To enrich the dough, a few strands of saffron is mixed. That leaves the dough incredibly soft and rather sweet with an unforgettable aroma.
Sheermal is traditionally served with Nihari, a hearty lamb soup or Awadhi Kebabs, the signature dish from Lucknow. You will get Sheermal in Hyderabad during Ramadan food walk at the Charminar area. In Kashmir, you may get to eat Sheermal with Nunchai, the famous pink tea. From Madhurima of the Orange Wayfarer.
Like anyone visiting Mexico, I had my fair share of corn tortillas when in the country and I was keen to learn a bit more about how they are made.
If you investigate a bit more you will realise that many foods in Mexico have their origins in corn in one shape or another. There are in fact almost 60 different types of corn in various colours, even purple.
From corn you can make masa, a dough made with corn and water that serves as the basis for lots of Mexican dishes in particular tortillas, which are in turn, an essential item in lots of dishes, from mere tacos to totopos (referred to as nacho chips in other countries), enchiladas, tostadas, flautas, tamales, quesadillas and many many more.
In Mexico I realised that I was eating corn tortillas at every meal, sometimes in my starter (even in tortilla soup), my main and on my side dish, I even had purple tortillas in my mushroom tacos. Mexicans eat tortillas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they are the main vessel for most street foods. from Mar of Once in a lifetime Journey
Nothing in the world compares to my favourite flatbread from Poland, Proziaki, a Polish soda bread that has a smooth and creamy texture. Made with Maslanka, kefir, or even sour cream, the bread has a distinct taste that easily goes well with either savoury or sweet toppings. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy this bread is with a smear of salted butter on top, but others prefer it with cheese or marmalade.
Traditionally made in Podkarpacie in the southeastern part of Poland, this bread is easy to make and can easily make its way to your home. The ingredients are easy to find: 4 cups of flour, an egg, a cup of Maslanka or kefir, a teaspoon of soda or 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and ½ a teaspoon of salt. It takes around 10 minutes to put the ingredients together and it bakes within 15 minutes. If you don’t have an oven, no sweat! A pan can be used to make it on a stovetop. From Karolina & Patryk of Lazy Travel Blog
Torta al Testo (Umbria)
Just southeast of Italy’s famed Tuscany region is a lesser-known, but equally enthralling region called Umbria. The densely-forested Umbria is celebrated for its medieval towns, wine, and truffles.
But when we visited during our trip to Italy with a toddler, it wasn’t the truffles that the locals went on and on about.
It was the flatbread.
Torta al Testo is a bread that is unique to Umbria and dates back to the Roman empire. It is cooked on a cast-iron disc or pan in an oven over open coals, or nowadays sometimes on a stove. The recipe is simple but delicious. It comes out slightly charred and is a perfect accompaniment to the hearty, rustic foods that are common in the area.
Our family had the amazing fortune to visit the home of a traditional Umbrian chef and help her make the flatbread for our dinner. We donned aprons, kneaded the bread (while trying to keep our toddler from sneaking bites), and even helped load it into the pizza oven under their house. It was enriching to be involved in the baking and see how this flatbread has been made for centuries, with ingredients sourced from their own farm and their neighbours. from Dani of Diapers in Paradise – Follow Dani on Instagram
Chole Bathure Pakistan
My favourite flatbread from my travels would have to be the chole bathure that I ate in Lahore, Pakistan. “Chole” refers to the chickpeas that act as a side while bathure is a type of fluffy, deep-fried bread made out of maida flour. The delicious bread is akin to fried dough – semi-sweet, soft and doughy in every single bite. Once the dough is rolled, it’s then fried in hot oil until it’s just a tad crispy.
This Punjabi-originating dish is popular in both India and Pakistan, though it might taste a bit different depending on what side of the border you’re on. It’s very similar to the popular (and delicious) poori bread, but the main difference is that the bathure is made with leavened dough.
I savoured this tasty dish with the very common side of chole, AKA chickpeas in a spicy sauce. Chole bathure is a much-loved breakfast in Pakistan, though some food stalls are happy to serve it up all day long! While you can find tons of delicious chole bathure in Lahore, I highly recommend heading to the Anarkali Bazaar- “Riaz Sweet Shop” as it’s called on Google Maps is literally to die for. I definitely went back there several times during the month I spent visiting Lahore! From Samantha at Intentional Detours
The first time I tried Dosa was in Singapore’s Little India, at a busy Hawker Centre with multitudes of Indian dishes. The deeply savoury and sour pancake was filled with spicy potato masala, and from the first bite, it sparked a fascination with Southern Indian cuisine.
The dosa batter is made from rice and black lentils (urad dal), which are ground together and then left to ferment for 5 to 16 hours. The fermenting is a key step that adds zest and fluffiness. It is also responsible for the addictive sour taste.
There are many ways to eat Dosa, but my favourite is Masala Dosa. The tangy pancake is filled with a bright and spicy potato filling. Traditionally, sambar (lentil-based stew) and chutney (various sauces) are available for dipping.
In my opinion, Dosa is one of the most delicious flatbreads in the world. It has the fermented element that makes sourdough bread so addictive, with the added benefit of being a rich source of protein. Traditionally a filling breakfast, I could honestly eat Masala Dosa any time of the day. From Masha of Fingertip Travels
Damper is Australia’s ‘national’ bread, not pretty and the epitome of basic but there is something about making and eating this when you’re camping that calls upon fond memories of both childhood and travel…
The crackle and pop of a campfire, the lapping of waves in the distance, the smell of eucalyptus, the calls of the night birds in the air.
Butter dripping down fingers, hot bread being tossed between hands, muttered curses, as the damper, fresh from the fire burns your fingers, too impatient to wait for it to cool.
Damper is quick and easy to make (the usual mixture of flour, butter, milk, bi-carb soda, baking powder and salt) It can be wrapped around a stick and toasted over a campfire, or simply popped into a cast iron campfire stove and place it over the coals for 40 mins or so.
There are hundreds of variations, a basic damper is a blank canvas for all kinds of add-ins: herbs, cheese, berries, and even chocolate.
Best enjoyed warm, this dense bread needs lashings of butter, jam, or honey. If you have less of a sweet tooth, olive oil and sea salt are wonderful accompaniments to this. It is the ultimate comfort food when you are camping. From Melissa at Meet Me at the Pyramid Stage
Chapati, a flatbread the size of a crepe, is a very popular food in Nepal. It can be ordered at any street cafe or restaurant in the country. Chapati recipe is very simple; you’ll need wheat flour, salt and boiled water. All the ingredients are mixed together into a dough. The dough is divided into several equal balls. Each ball is rolled and flattened into a crepe-like disk and cooked on the griddle.
Hiking in Nepal we eat a lot of chapatis. It is a solid part of our breakfast and dinner on any trek. For breakfast, we usually eat it with an omelette or fried eggs, for dinner with Dal.
The combination of yellow or black Dal and chapatis is one of the most popular Nepalese meals. Sometimes when we’re high in the Himalayas and want something sweet we eat chapati with peanut butter or butter and jam. A cup of aromatic Masala tea and a chapati with peanut butter is a perfect snack after a tough day of hiking. From Alya at Stingy Nomads – Find Campbell and Alya on YouTube
In Lebanon, the smell of mana’eesh wafts out from the bakeries that are seemingly on every street corner. Mana’eesh is a round flatbread that can be topped with a variety of different ingredients, although the most common one is za’atar.
This is a mixture of toasted sesame seeds, thyme and other herbs and spices that are mixed with olive oil and then spread onto the top of the dough before it’s baked. While most other toppings contain animal products, the ubiquitous za’atar mana’eesh is a safe bet for vegans in Lebanon.
This is a favourite breakfast food for many Lebanese people, although it can be eaten at any time of the day. As a lunch or afternoon snack, it’s often loaded with vegetables and then rolled up like a gyro sandwich, to be eaten on the go. Whereas when it’s eaten for breakfast it’s usually sliced like a pizza. Though most closely associated with Lebanon, mana’eesh is popular throughout the Levant and even beyond. There are several ways to transliterate the Arabic name مناقيش, so you may also see it written as manaqish, manakish or even man’ousheh. From Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan
Potato Bread N. Ireland
If there’s one thing Ireland is known for it is their love for potatoes, where almost every meal of every day will somehow include this staple of Irish culture and cuisine. But one daily meal, the Irish Breakfast, would regularly forget to include this humble Irish staple, other than up north with the traditional food in Northern Ireland.
This is where ‘potato bread’ has become a staple in everyone’s morning breakfast with the traditional Ulster fry where potato bread is served alongside bacon, sausages, fried egg, black pudding, soda bread, and I personally like some baked beans and maybe some HP Sauce to bring it all together.
Potato bread is also a relatively simple flatbread to make, using mashed potatoes with flour, butter, and a seasoning of salt. Potato bread can then be cooked in an oven or a toaster oven, but it will traditionally be fried in a frying pan along with the other staples of Northern Ireland’s traditional Ulster fry. From Allan of Bangor NI
Native American Fry bread
Fry bread is a Native American bread, said to have evolved from the Scottish bannock and there are as many versions as there are tribes throughout N.America. According to the Navajo tradition, frybread was created in 1864 using supplies provided by the US government when the tribe was forced to take the 300-mile long walk. The Government supplied them with flour, salt, lard and sugar and baking powder. From this, they developed the frybread we know today.
Most fry bread contains flour, salt, water some type of oil or lard and baking powder. A simple dough is created and left covered to rise for a little while. Once risen it is then cut into pieces flattened and fried over an open fire. These days you can enjoy fry bread in a popular treat known as Indian tacos.
Roti Canai Malaysia
I had my first Roti on a trip to Malaysia. It was the first time I’d had authentic Indian food and I loved every bit of it. Indian style Roti is a round flatbread made simply from flour and water. It is generally eaten as a side accompaniment with curries and tandoori dishes. However, Roti is not always a savoury dish. You can get many sweet options with chocolate or sugar as a topping. It’s a little bit like a pancake when served like this.
My favourite Roti order is a Roti Canai. The roti is served alongside a small pot of curry sauce. It’s the cheapest Roti you can order costing less than 1$ in Malaysia. It’s the perfect breakfast dish – if you can wrap your head around curry for breakfast! I loved having a Roti Canai before heading off for a day hiking in the highlands. The Cameron Highlands was also where I found the best Roti Canai throughout Malaysia. So if you’re headed to India or Malaysia, don’t forget to check out the Indian style Roti there. From Hannah of Hannahs Happy Adventures-Follow Hannah on Instagram
Pane Caracau Sardinia
Pane carasau is a flatbread typical of the Sardinian cuisine and popular all over Italy. This flatbread is thin and crunchy. It is also called “Carta musica” (music paper) because of the sound you make while you chew it.
The carasau bread is extremely versatile; you can eat it as it is as a snack or to go with a glass of white sparkling wine. it is also the ingredient of delicious Sardinian dishes. The “su pani frattau” is a dish made alternating layers of broth-soaked carasau bread, tomato sauce, and poached eggs.
The pane carasau comes in sheets of about 40 cm resembling extremely thin wafers. If you add some water to it, it can be filled with your favourite ingredients like a salad or ham and rolled. If you want to make a different lasagna, you can use carasau bread layers instead of dough sheets and cover them with Sardinian pecorino cheese and ragu.
The pane carasau flatbread only contains durum wheat semolina, water, yeast, and salt. It tastes quite neutral and goes well with any other food. Pane carasau is one of the most renowned breads of Italy and you will find it in every well-furnished Italian grocery store. From Annalisa of Travel Connect Experience
Flour Tortillas N. America
Flour tortillas are a Mexican flatbread that are a popular wrap for tacos. The best tortillas are soft and pliable so that they can be closed to contain the filling inside.
Flour tortillas are easy to make and only require a few ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt and some form of grease – whether shortening, vegetable oil or lard. You don’t need to make flour tortillas because there are plenty of options of flour tortillas to buy in a supermarket as well.
The traditional taco wrap was soft corn tortillas. When Mexican migrants came to work in the USA in the early 20th century though, they realised that corn tortillas didn’t last as long as they needed. The result was the hard corn tortilla and the flour tortilla. Flour tortillas are popular in Northern Mexico and the USA as taco wraps.
Nowadays, tacos are as popular in the USA as in Mexico. Everyone loves tacos for their flexibility because not only do you have a choice of wraps but also a choice in the fillings. There are taco cookbooks that help you make creative ingredients so that your taco can be a snack, a filling meal or even a dessert.
In London, we use flour tortillas for tacos because they are widely available. The hard corn tortillas are also available but the soft corn tortillas are not. We prefer the flour tortillas for the wrap because they are sturdy and can hold an overstuffed taco without spillage! From Shobha of Just Go Places Blog
Kottu Roti Sri Lanka
Coming from the small island Sri Lanka, no matter where I travel, kottu roti remains as one of my favourite flatbread dishes. Preparing kottu roti is an art. It’s a skill one has to master.
For kottu roti, we use the flatbread, Sri Lankan godammba roti. These are similar to Indian parathas. The dough is prepared into balls and submerged in oil for 6-7 hours before they turn into pliant, soft godammba roti. For kottu roti, we use leftover godammba roti. This soft flatbread is sliced into small pieces.
Kottu roti is a popular street food in Sri Lanka. In many hole-in-the-wall eateries, ‘roti men’ lay sliced godammba roti on a flat metal sheet. They add fresh vegetables such as slices of cabbage, onions, carrots, leeks, and green chilli. An egg is thrown in. Then they use two metal blades to cut, chop and mix all the ingredients. If you are outside on the streets at night in Sri Lanka, this metal-on-metal sound is hard to miss.
You can order veg kottu, or go for meat of your choice. Chicken kottu roti is the most popular version out there, but you can also find fish kottu, crab kottu, prawn kottu as well as mutton, beef, and pork versions in Sri Lanka. Once prepared, this messy dish is best enjoyed hot. I love having it without any side dish, but many islanders enjoy kottu with chicken or fish gravy. By Zinara from NatnZin
Roghni Naan Pakistan
I was sitting in a restaurant in Lahore, Pakistan, with delicious kebab and chicken karahi on my table. But instead of cutlery, my dishes were accompanied by a round flatbread thicker than a roti with a distinct pattern on it.
Roghni naan is one of Pakistan’s most popular types of bread. With its fluffy texture and soft taste, it is the perfect addition to traditional dishes like nihari and karahi and is used to pick up the food.
What makes this flatbread so delicious are its ingredients. Roghni naan is prepared with yoghurt, milk, and ghee, giving it a very soft taste, and yeast to make the dough rise. The dough is then rolled out and a pattern is carved into the bread, often using a hairbrush. Finally, it is sprinkled with sesame seeds and baked in a traditional tandoor oven, adding to the distinctive flavour.
Back to my story. I was struggling to eat the food. As a European living in China, I was familiar with both forks and chopsticks, but eating with bread was something I was not quite used to yet. I tried so many times to pick up the meat with the naan in my hands but every attempt ended in a saucy mess.
Just when I was about to give up trying, the manager of the restaurant walked towards my table with a fork and knife. He cut the naan into squares and shoved it onto the fork together with the meat for me. I chuckled, but deep inside I was very touched by the man’s kindness and respect. From Arabela The Spicy Travel Girl
Fetira from Ethiopia
Fatira is a traditional flatbread from Ethiopia and is usually eaten for breakfast. This simple breakfast of champions starts off with only flour, salt, water and a little oil which are mixed into a dough before being stretched into thin sheets and fried in an iron skillet. The result is a crispy on the outside and chewy layers on the inside flatbread that will bowl you over at the first bite.
Fatira is usually served with scrambled eggs, either on the side or folded into the dough, or simply with a generous serving of honey. Being in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, there is no better way to start the day with a fatira and cup of black gold.
I had fatira for breakfast every day in Ethiopia, however the best I had was in the holy muslim town of Harar in the Eastern lowlands of the country. Staying at one of the cultural guesthouses in the old town of Harar is not to be missed. Not only for the cultural experience, but you’ll sit down to homemade fatira and a cup of Harar dark roast every morning. By De Wet and Jin of Museum of Wander
Any way you shape them or eat them flatbreads are a staple in most kitchens these days and its always good to have them in the pantry or freezer. The other advantage is that most of them are just so simple to prepare and cook that anyone can make them.
What flatbreads have you tried that you love?