What is Atta and why its different from Western Wheat Flour

100-percent-whole-grain-whole-wheat-indian-chakki-atta-bread-recipe |kannammacooks.com #atta #bread #soft #loaf #chakki #milling #gluten #development #hard #atta #loaves

Indian wheat is high in protein and belongs to the aestivum variety used by everyone in the world for making great bread. So whole wheat bread loaves in India should work right? Why my atta bread just doesn’t work the way I want it to? Why is it dense and crumbly? I used to bake good soft and fluffy 100% percent whole wheat breads when I was abroad and suddenly after moving back to India, the same recipe would give me horrified loaves. I wanted to know why. After a lot of research I am posting this article so it might be helpful to all bread bakers in India. The culprit to bad loaves is the flour. It is all about the unique milling process in India that is different from the rest of the world. So lets first try to understand how Indian milling is done.

The milling process:

Indian wheat flour is mostly ground in stone mills popularly called as chakkis. Chakki is nothing but a pair of stones, of which, one is stationery and other is a rotating stone. Stone mills generate considerable heat due to friction. The heat causes what is called as STARCH DAMAGE. It also results in considerable damage to the protein in comparison to other milling techniques. The chakki atta is preferred more than the roller mill atta for the texture and taste of the Chapati/Roti (flat bread of India).  Indian atta is a very very finely milled wheat flour. It works wonderfully well for making Indian flat breads and chakki is the most preferred milling process for indian breads. Stone grinding breaks the starch sufficiently to release extra sweetness while burning it slightly to give added flavor to Indian flat breads. Both methods  of milling generate heat. Roller mills generate more heat than chakki and thereby some nutrition and vitamins are lost. But it has less damage to the starch and protein in the flour as it cuts the flour into small particles. But Chakki alters the starch (the force is intense) which is not good for western bread making but great for indian bread chapati/roti.

So what happens in chakki milling?

Roller milling results in 5% to 6% starch damage whereas chakki milling results in 11% to 13% starch damage. Let’s say protein in the flour on an average accounts for 10% of flour weight. But 70% is starch. Its equally important like the protein. Its important to understand that they make up for more than 50% of the dough volume. Its important that it works with the gluten chain when formed to tenderize it. When baked, the starch absorbs the water and gets fat or swollen.  The moisture absorption is more in chakki flour than in normal whole wheat flour. So what? It means that you need to alter the liquid ingredients of the recipe as almost all the recipes for whole wheat bread uses traditional wheat flour. Because of this starch damage and protein loss, breads made out of 100%  chakki atta is dense and dry like the picture below.

100-percent-whole-grain-whole-wheat-indian-chakki-atta-bread-recipe |kannammacooks.com #atta #bread #soft #loaf #chakki #milling #gluten #development #hard #atta #loaves


Also Indian wheat is light in color! Why?

India produces mostly 3 kinds of wheat.
95% “triticum aestivum” or the common bread wheat
4% “triticum durum” or the pasta wheat
1% “triticum dicoccum” or the emmer wheat (also known as khapli,samba godumai,diabetic wheat) – India is the largest cultivator of emmer wheat in the world.

Indian Gov portal says, Indian wheat is largely medium hard, medium protein wheat which is similar to the USA Hard white wheat. So what is whole hard white wheat? Its the same like any other wheat but has no major genes for bran color. For example Hard red winter wheat has upto 3 bran genes. That is the reason why indian atta is lighter in color and milder in flavor. Experts are of the opinion that the two kinds of wheat are the same nutritionally. Most of the nutrition differences among wheat varieties are driven by environmental conditions, such as weather, soil composition, drought etc..

The famous and unique Indian Sharbati wheat

The protein in wheat will be higher when there is drought and thats where our Indian sharbati atta rocks!

What is Indian Sharbati Atta? Sharbati atta comes exclusively from the state of Madhya Pradesh. Note that all wheat coming from MP is NOT Sharbati. The Sharbati is a rain-fed phenomenon where there’s no organized, large-scale irrigation. The high potash content in the soil, low humidity and rain irrigation results in wheat that is naturally 1-2 per cent higher in protein content than the normal 10-12 percent elsewhere. Sharbati belongs to the aestivum genre of wheat, the common bread wheat.

So how do we get a decent whole wheat bread loaf out of atta?

Grinding your own wheat flour can help make decent wheat loaves. You can grind your wheat berries in a regular roller mill. It was an epiphany when I held a good whole wheat sandwich loaf that was not dense. I have a toddler son who will refuse to eat bread if its not fluffy. So I add a little bit of vital wheat gluten to make it “wonder bread” fluffy.

Here is my recipe.

classic-100-percent-whole-wheat-atta-bread-recipe

References:
On food and cooking – Harold McGee,Peter Reinhart – whole grain baking, Larousse gastronomique, Bread Bible – Rose Levy beranbaum, farmer.gov.in/cropstaticswheat.html, www.google.com/patents/us6098905, india2012.icc.or.at/webfm_send/29 www.aaccnet.org/publications/cc/backissues/1962/documents/chem39_155.pdf, indiatoday.intoday.in/story/grains+of+gold/1/1561.html, www.apeda.gov.in, www.muehlenchemie.de, wholegrainscouncil.org, king arthur flour.

178 thoughts on “What is Atta and why its different from Western Wheat Flour”

  1. The informationt hat yuou have shared about bread is amazing. Breads is a great thing. We have seen so many success stories about the homemade healthy sandwich that people often use to eat this because to lose weight and at the end most of the people get their results soon. We all need to understand that eating healthy food can also help us to lose weight. Thanks for the valuable informatino.

  2. Good Research. Thanks for sharing informative content.
    Sharbati wheat is a type of wheat that is known for its soft texture, rich aroma, and high gluten content. It is mainly grown in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of India and is commonly used for making chapatis and other traditional Indian breads.

  3. Nanri!.
    Thanks for sharing info on atta. We, here in Singapore have run out of atta backseat ofbthe Indian government’s ban on Atta exports…ab1kg bag of atta was sold for US$70 recently…and now there is no stock at all…As a South Indian Tamil we rice eaters yet like over chappati as well…and unfortunatelt when stocks run out that’s when we longbfor the rotis !!!…It would be great if some one from Egypt or Turkey sell an equivalent ATTA flour to Singapore shops..like the famous MUSTAPHA shopping centre soon

    1. What is ‘damage’ to starch/protine?! Is that a waste?! Breaking down at molecular level with heat in chakki?!

  4. Thank you for this superb article Suguna

    Elsewhere I have read that in milling the Atta four the temperature is allowed to rise to 110 – 120 deg C thus damaging the proteins considerably. This is deliberate and it enables a thinner roti to be had. As does the starch damage as you point out.

    The figures you give for starch damage seem very low. 4% – 10% is the ideal for a good Western leavened loaf. Western Wind or Watermill stones can easily hit 20% starch damage. Because atta is so fine I suspect the starch damage is much higher than that.

    I had been under the illusion that atta was made with Indian durum wheat. Thank you for correcting that.

  5. I discovered Sharbati whole wheat flour at a supermarket in Toronto while looking for spelt flour and decided to give it a try, as I don’t like the regular all purpose flour. My bread came out very tasty, just a bit denser than using white flour, but that was to be expected. I used Fleishman dough conditioner/enhancer and 10/7 rather than the more common 10/6 flour to liquid ratio. I love the sweetish/nutty flavor of this flour.

  6. The reason of high density and low gluten development is the type of grain variety and not milling procedure.

    Majority of all purpose flour are modified gmo product in USA. These variety were picked and modified in lab to increase gluten density so that it can be used to maas produce industrial bread.

    Health wise it has highlyq inflamatory marker because of gluten imbalance. While Indian variety are more ancient and modidication is less.

    You can still produce better baking result by changing ratio to manipulate texture and final product.

    1. I also agree with you. Milling process doesn’t change anything more of properties of wheat. Most of the wheat grown around western countries is hybrid or GMO. As you stated these varieties are developed in lab to give high yield, pest tolerance and good texture.

  7. Hi akka.. could you suggest a good source to buy good wheat in chennai to make the regular pulkas and rotis..
    Thank you

  8. I never thought there is a difference too between normal Atta and Flour mill too. Thanks for sharing with us .

  9. I had the same issue when I started baking bread at home (I live in New Delhi), then I chanced across something called ‘mill ka atta’ (I guess it means flour made in a roller mill) which was used to make naan bread by the local muslim kitchens to make ‘motivate roti’ (raised flatbread). The results of my baking have changed since then. I have made yeasted artisan breads and sourdough breads quite easily.

  10. There used to be a variety of wheat,grown in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand,dark golden in colour, which my mother used to make bread at home with the addition of some all purpose flour. This was back in the seventies though. I have not seen that type of wheat since.

  11. Thanks for sharing the difference between Atta and western wheat flour ,these are so amazing and love to know about this .

  12. Hi, How about milling your own atta (wheat as well as rice, ragi, corn and besan etc). Any recommendation for a reliable flour mill/grinder for home use in Hong Kong.

  13. Before this reading , Atta and wester wheat flour or any kind of wheat flour its same for me as we don’t know much about this. Its quite good to know about this . thanks for sharing this.

  14. Thank you! I recently started sorting out the differences between the things we call ‘flour’ in Europe, Asia, India & Africa with more confusion every step of the way. Growing up in the USA during the last century, most of us who were not professional bakers bought flour at the grocery store: ‘white flour’ bleached/unbleached; whole wheat; graham flour; white/yellow cornmeal. Even wheat bran, cake flour and wheat germ were specialty items. … Your detailed explanations will help enormously in reducing the number of “will this work instead? (no!)” failures that I feed to my chickens.

  15. Never thought that deep about Atta , its processing and all this stuff. Come to know about new stuffs , thanks for sharing this one SUGANA VINODH

  16. Nice content shared mam.(SUGUNA VINODH) . Thanks for sharing this whole process, from farm to what we eat. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Abhinandan Mahant

    The bread I recently baked does not turn out to be dense like in the photos, I used high hydration, wheat is aashrivaad brand, issue is see is with the taste beyond the rising stage, flavor developed feels bitter, so I just wait like for it to only rise and then bake.

  18. I’m a baker from Kolkata also struggling with this same whole wheat baking issues . Was a pleasure to read ur article . It did give a little more clarity to me on the science behind the common issues I faced. However have a few queries left unanswered . Would it be ok if I were to email those to you ?

    1. Rajveer Singh

      I got to understand roller mill attached and chakki atta from your article. Thank you for that. However recently I came across “tandoori atta” I will be thankful of you could provide me the same and also explain how is it different from chakki atta

  19. hi there,
    i would suggest some parts of your above article are misleading. Proven by multiple laboratory tests, it is widely and undisputedly established that slow (hand operated speed) stone milling preserves vitamin contents of wheat kernel more than any other method of milling.
    About the starch you are right.
    Please re-verify and rectify your vitamin facts for stone milling.
    Thanks & regards

  20. Bhargavi Pawar

    I am amazed at your passion for cooking and learning about new foods. Your writing is akin to a dining table conversation and makes for delightful reading ! I admire particularly this piece of research on Indian vs Western wheats. Its no wonder that we find the breads soft, fluffy and delicious in the West… I always assumed that they are better bakers ! Thanks so much for sharing ! I try your recipes and love them too.

  21. Greetings Sugunda
    I have a mixed vegetable pie recipe by a European lady. It requires a mixture of 4 eggs, 2 or 3 tablespoons of wheat flour, etc., etc. This mixture needs to be poured over the mixed vegetables and baked. Please note, there is no pie as a base, just the vegetables and the mixture is poured over them. When the pie is done, it can be cut into pieces and eaten. Can I use atta for it? Or, should I buy all purpose wheat flour? Please help. Blessings and many thanks in advance. Grandma Neel

  22. Trying to find where I can get good Indian flour in the US. Any recommendations? With covid, like so many others, I also started on bread making and so far I have been very happy with the central milling’s high mountain flour for my sour dough breads. I haven’t tried their whole wheat flours yet.

    BTW:- Used to watch Jacues and Julia cook on PBS. Really inspired me to learn cooking.

    1. USA cities with good universities, especially in STEM, always have Indian restaurants and groceries. Miramar Cash and Carry in San Diego has lots of different Indian flours,

  23. Hi Suguna, Thanks for this post. I’ve been trying hard to understand the differences between the whole wheat in the US and India. I was under the impression that India aata is a soft winter wheat much like the white whole wheat that you get the States. How does Indian aata compare to white whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour? I find that Indian aata is much more mild in flavor than the American whole wheat and so think it might be a good substitute in baked goods. I am also curious as to why rotis turn out awfully dense and chewy using American whole wheat. Nutritionally, how does Indian aata compare to the whole wheat in the States?

  24. Wow what a wonderfully educational post, thank you for all your research and hardworking on this, I am new to chapati making and was using regular whole wheat flour from US stores and was wondering why it was not turning out right in flavor or texture. I decided to go by chakki atta. Now I know more , thank you , thank you

  25. Payel Mallick

    This was eye opening. Even though it is from five years ago, I did sometimes wonder initially why the Indian whole wheat doesn’t quite cut the mark when it comes to making bread. But I think the chakki atta is not a common process of milling anymore. Of late I have been baking a lot with locally found whole wheat as well. Works great for me. Works great for me. I also found some good hacks that work better. For instance using a preferment generally gave good structure to bread.

  26. Hi regarding this topic of roller mill and chakki mill. We give wheat to grind in the mill in india. Isn’t it roller mill? Jus to understand whether it’s different from the packaged atta. Cos this way we select the wheat but the mill has similar machines for all grinding?

  27. Hi. My sister Vineetha in the US told me about you. I have failed miserably trying to make a decent wheat loaf…🙄. I am not a professional Baker but love baking.
    How do I get the wheat you mentioned…
    Also last time I made a loaf with making a sponge… adding roux… adding vital gluten… and still failed miserably. I tried ashirvad atta… pilsbury and what not…HELP …

  28. shrimadhy hariharan

    Dear Ms Suguna,

    Do you know whether I can use Samba wheat to make chapathis?

  29. What a useful article! I’ve been wondering about this for so long, with my bread in India never coming out like my bread in the US.
    Do you happen to know what “fine atta” is, and how is it different from maida? Is maida a high protein (bread type) flour, or a low protein (pastry type) flour?
    Thank you!

  30. Amazing, well-researched article. This has cleared up a lot of questions for me, thanks! Though as somebody else has commented, atta works well for sourdough bread, not sure why–maybe because of the longer proofing process most sourdough recipes have?

  31. Hai, iam from namakkal. Iam willing to start wheat flour bussiness. And this article help me a lot to gather knowledge. Thank u. Can u suggest me some other article or book about indian wheat flour.

  32. I just baked sourdough bread using chakki atta and it turn out fluffy and delicious! I used my own sourdough starter and the same recipe I use with whole wheat flour. I recommend it for sourdough bread, you should try.

    1. hi thanks for the input.
      1) can you plz share your recipe
      2) which brand. atta did you use in India?
      thanks

    2. Hello!
      I have the same questions as Kavita, can you please tell us which brand of atta did you use for your sourdough bread? Does atta works better than maida for sourdough? So far I have used a combination of both. Thank you

  33. Thank you so much for this.. I have had similar failed results and was wondering why it turned out the way it does. If only we can get a perfect recipe to fix this since it is the only thing available in the stores

  34. Alexis Dunstan

    I want to uae #1 fine atta in my cookie and muffin baking. Have you any suggestions on altering the amount of flour from all purpose to atta or the increase or decrease of other ingredients or some additions (I am thinking adding more egg or adding apple sause) to get a better result.

    1. If you google it, actually no GMO wheat is sold commercially anywhere in the world. Corn, very much yes, soy also. But not wheat. Until now.

  35. Shivani Ganju

    Thanks a lot for this! I was breaking my head on the failed bread products and this was very helpful!

  36. I quiet liked your wheat research with required packed with insights from your end. I found your site accidentally and I am starting to like the uniqueness of it. Keep rocking. Will visit often & spread the news…

  37. This is the best explanation I have found on this – I realized quite a while ago that atta was not a good choice for bread BUT an excellent choice for loaf breads. I make Banana bread, Pumpkin loafs and even Apple crumble loafs with atta. They have a lovely depth of flavor and a great crumb. So now I Know why!!
    Thank you 🙂

  38. Madam, Can you please suggest the best whole wheat flour suitable for making bread in bread machine? Thanks. I tried Ashirwad and Pillsbury, and both came out like bonda (texture). Yeast also might be an issue. Thanks

  39. I recently bought 2kg of atta bread, hoping in mind I could use it for making fluffy sandwich bread after tired of eating chapati. Your article had given me an insight on what to do with the flour. Now I need to find where to get the wheat gluten.
    Thank you.

  40. I was looking for solid info about atta because I love it but couldn’t find good explanations, and this is helpful. Can you clarify about the protein and starch percentages? When you say “they make up for more than 50% of the dough volume” in the section about milling, do you mean both starch and protein or are you talking about just starch? And when you say “it works with the gluten chain” I think you mean just starch. Is that right? Thanks!

    1. Oh and how does it compare to white whole wheat, like the “hard white” variety, which I think is what is used to make the King Arthur white whole wheat? Thanks!

  41. I have been making ” Indian ” cuisine for over 50 years now and within that span making chapai’s
    After reading your Very informative item about different wheats / grinding etc I am certainly more aware of any some time the chapatis have failed Than you .. A great site kindest regards

  42. I’m learning about Indian cuisine, especially the breads. We have a sizable Indian culture where I live and there are a number of markets, restaurants, cafes, and cultural events. I’ll keep in touch.

  43. Basically, a milling process of Wheat in India and Western countries is different. Though India has very good Wheat and Sharbatti atta, we lost some nutrition and vitamins in the milling process. Thanks Suguna for focusing on such topic.

  44. Is the average gluten content of Indian bread flours published?
    I live in a very Indian area. We have a big “Patels” super market with an entire asle devoted to flours.
    I can easily find which flours are gluten free and which are not by looking online, but I would like to find out which are similar to “bread flour” (12% gluten), and which are closer to all purpose (10%). I already use atta for all my whole wheat, but it is not clear what the gluten content is of all the different alternatives.

  45. Has any one ever tried Kathiya Wheat Variety of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh? It is grown for the simple reason that there is no water for irrigation available here, so mostly it is rain fed or maximum one irrigation through bore-wells.

  46. Hello
    I am a flour manufacturer and i have worked on a new wheat for whole wheat flour. According to some of the samples distributed by me, the people are saying that the chapatti is better than sharbati. So will you help me out if i send you the sample of the flour.
    I am asking you because i think you have a really deep knowledge about wheat flours and we can also have a nice conversation of the textures and other specifications.

    If you want to know anything, kindly feel free to revert anytime.
    Thanks

  47. Hi mam,
    I live in usa ,bought a stone flour mill.
    To make chapati which wheat i need to buy. I tried with soft white wheat but i am not able to get good chapati.

  48. I want to start atta making business. Please suggest a good process to make atta. Mainly it will be use to make chapatis. And what is the best wheat to make flour?
    Plz reply

  49. Dear madam then which brand flour i shold use for making sourdough breads ? I am searching from last 2 years … i tried all most all indian flour
    I am not happy with it
    Plz suggest d proper brand name it will be helpful for me thanks

  50. Very informative, thank you. Have you tried using Western whole wheat flour to make chapattis?

  51. Great article! As a vegetarian who eats chappati’s made from indian atta, I’m interested to know the fundamental difference nutrientally from indian atta v normal western wheat?

    Talking to a gym goer unfamiliar with indian atta, the general perception of wheat staple diet is negative – is this a lack of understanding of the differences between indian v western atta?

    It was recommended to explore spelt wheat as a more healthier alternative to indian atta, does one have more protein content than the other?

    Thanks in advance

  52. Hello Suguna,

    Thank you for sharing such a great article on Atta – it is very well explained.

    I bought a 10 kg bag of atta flour from a supermarket because it was on sale for 60% off 🙂 So I thought it doesn’t hurt to buy it even though I am not Indian, and figure out how to finish using it up later. I found that I can still use it for making bread by using 50-50 Atta and All-purpose flour. The bread dough does not have the gluten strength that all-purpose flour has and the dough can be broken into pieces with ease. Now that I have read your article it explains what I experienced.

  53. 1. I know commercial bread is “soft and fluffy 100% percent whole wheat bread”, but I personally have not been able to the same. Whole wheat bread is always dense.

    2. So with the “damage”, does atta have less calories? Can we assume it has 5% less protein and starch?

    3. Is Aashirvaad atta stone milled (chakkis)?

    4. My experience anything less than 75% hydration is too dry for whole wheat bread. I often use 90%, occupationally 100% (weight). So a bit surprised to see your recipe at about 60%

  54. Madam myself VINIT Shashikant Sadavarte I am from nashik I have problem by eating chapatis from last two years I am not eating chapatis by eating chapatis I would get digestion problem it is very hard to digest my contact number 7755914289 can you tell me how the chapatis is made so it does not affect my digestive system it feels like elastic in colonel plz help me

  55. Ashwini Gowariker

    Thank you for an eye opener of an article! I bake with atta flour, and have found that grain milled at small local mills or bought from smaller stores just don’t have the gluten levels needed for fluffy loaves. However, atta from large brands like Ashirwad and Pillsbury work beautifully. I had always attributed it to a lack of temperature control with smaller brands, and had actually bought an ancient stone chakki to be able to mill wheat slowly… but your roller mill theory makes a lot more sense. I suppose the bigger players must be importing their machinery and turning out flour that is closer in gluten levels to what bread needs.

  56. Thank you for this post, I am actually a wheat flour miller in the US and Atta flour is not something I’m familiar with. I just had a customer call and ask me about it and how to use it in tortillas. Your explanation of the Indian milling process and the variety of wheat is incredibly informative.
    Thank you!!

  57. Bimal Kr, Jalan

    It is wrong to say that Roller Mills generate more heat than chakkies. Roller Mills remain much cooler because tow rollers are always apart

  58. Hi, thank you for sharing this with us with a detailed explanation

    I am unable to find wheat gluten . If I use a bread improver instead will it work equally well ?

  59. Sharmila Krishnamurty

    What a great article! I am in the quest to reduce plastic waste so I have decided to only buy from my organic bulk store here in San Diego CA. I am trying to figure out how to have my US generated whole wheat flour mimic the Indian Atta. So far all the rotis I have made from the whole wheat purchased from the bulk store have turned out to be hard and unappetizing. Any ideas on how I can reverse what this article says and make soft healthy (I don’t want to compromise and use all purpose flour) rotis from US made whole wheat floor? Your input is much appreciated.

    1. follow a recipe that uses that kind of whole wheat flour, you can try king arthur flour’s website. it will probably not be like your regular chapati though, and you will need to add some oil/butter or egg, or you can try a potato.

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  61. OK, just read your recipe. Here are your mistakes:
    1. You use store bought yeast. You need to use homemade yeast (mother) which imparts WAY more flavor to the bread.
    2. You only kneaded the bread for 4 minutes. You have to knead for minimum of 10 minutes in the mixer to properly develop the gluten. After 10 minutes in the mixer you knead by hand so you develop the “feel” of what good dough is supposed to feel like. After the dough rises (not double- this is foolish for weak (low gluten) flour then you knead by hand before forming into a loaf to further develop the gluten. I would explain the science behind the kneading process, but I don’t want to confuse you. In summary:
    1. High gluten white flour – less kneading and let it double before forming into a loaf
    2. Whole wheat or low gluten flours – more kneading and form into a loaf after rising about 25% or not at all. The problem with store bought flour (in addition to not having flavor) is that it rises too quickly so the dough does not have a chance to just rest. You can actually allow the dough to rest for a couple of hours without so much rising if you use a weaker (homemade) yeast. This way, the dough still has energy for a good rise without adding more vital wheat gluten.

    Normally I charge $$$ for such advice, but I like you so I give some for free. All I can say is that if you really want to understand how to make bread, it is very possible to spend years in doing research. Fortunately, even a normal person can make easy recipes with no such knowledge- good luck!

  62. Actually I used “Swarna Chakki Fresh Atta Stone Ground”. It’s probably not real Indian Atta, but regular flour made to look like real Atta. That would explain my results as well. Anyhow, it makes great bread and great naan, and it’s as close as I can get here in America.

  63. Just made me a loaf of bread from Atta flour. It came out great. Atta, egg, milk, salt, and yogurt. So, really, don’t know why you had problems. Maybe you use store bought yeast, while I use homemade yeast (mother). Anyhow, most people who read these posts don’t make any bread anyhow, so a little misinformation won’t hurt them.

  64. Catherine Morris-Fernandes

    I use the chakki ground atta, which ‘from your article’ explains why my ww bread turns out dense. Are roller mills available for the home? I would like to get one. I live in Bombay.

  65. Hi Suguna, thank you very much for this informative article. I always wondered why the Atta looks different (colour) from the whole wheat flour. I use 3/4 cup Atta and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour to make Rotis. Enjoy your baking. Btw, I also like Ilayaraja but MSV is my favorite(that’s probably due to my age). Thanks Sanjeev

  66. You’re crazy. The so-called ‘whole wheat bread’ slices in the west are full of starch and cause unhealthy fat gain. Indian atta has been used to make healthy rotis in India for thousands upon thousands of years, unless you’re saying that ancient atta making techniques were different than now. There is nothing healthy about bread. Roti is literally whole wheat flour and water – nothing unhealthy.

    1. I have never said in the article that roti is unhealthy. I have just talked about the milling techniques. Whole wheat bread and roti are all made using the same wheat kernel. I do not know how chapati is healthy but whole wheat bread ( no additional chemicals added ) is not.

      1. I think the yeast in bread makes it unhealthy.That is why people are trying to get old fashioned sour dough bread baked from scratch. The leavening agent sour dough starter takes a few days to ferment.For diabetic patients sour dough bread is best. chapati comes next best. Thank you for all the useful information on whole wheat. You rock Suguna.

  67. Thanks for the detailed information.
    If I want to make my own atta in USA what kind of wheat to buy?

  68. Wow thanks for the information. Surprisingly my mom who is a curious person when it comes to cooking. Had bought a pack of whole wheat flour from the market in Hong Kong. N she tried making chapathi with it. It was a disaster, any idea why is that.

  69. Great article!

    May I know where can you I get the normal flour and also high protien floor. I want to make white bread.

    Many thanks

  70. I have also failed twice in making whole wheat bread.. Thinking of the reason.. Your post has answered many of my questions.. Still I have a few..

    Does “grinding in roller mill” mean the regular rice mills in tamilnadu ?
    Have you ever used wheat bran ? have you ever attempted to make bread out of it ?

  71. Hi,
    I really loved this blog…Thanks for sharing such an informative blog…it contains lot information..and now i got a better idea about how the milling process will carried out and i also likes the recipe that you shared…your presentation is nice..

  72. its very informative blog…Thanks Suguna for sharing such a wonderful blog..i tried your recipe with the Best Chakki Atta and it came out well..

  73. Very well written and informative! As a Pakistani living in the Philippines and trying to find the right flour for my mother’s visit, I have to commend you for the insight and detailed information. If you have a blog, please add me!

  74. can any body let me know that how we can make the multigrain atta? That mean what other ingrediants should include in 1 kg wheat atta.

    Please/…

    Karan

    1. you can add gram flour (besan), barley powder and maize flour.mix as per require taste.

  75. Hi Suguna,
    Thank you for a very informative post — there are so many blog authors all over the web who ask for adding “vital wheat gluten” to Indian atta but frankly no one explained the science 🙂
    Could you pls tell me where to get this “vital wheat gluten”, possibly in Bangalore ? Any information on a brand that has worked for you would be very useful. Thanks once again 🙂

  76. mybookjacket

    Oh this is so annoying. I was wondering what so many different flours was and everyone here bakes with maida and nothing else. It’s tiring to see india taking so long to catch up with the availability of products. Thank you for this Suguna. you’re a lifesaver.

  77. Varsha Rajeswaran

    Hi Suguna,
    This is such a thoughtful and well researched post and any home baker from India will thoroughly relate to it.I, like many other enthusiastic new breed of home bakers, was in search of that elusive variety of wheat (flour) and proportions and cheeky add ins that would give me a loaf as soft and fluffy as the not so healthy maida bread.i always used to buy sharbati atta of the aashirwad series but never satisfied with the results.i don’t add vital wheat gluten too, to the dough.

    But lately I discovered that the organic whole wheat flour of 24 Mantra gives excellent results even without adding vital wheat gluten or part maida.

    Thank you very much for this post!!

  78. Hi Suguna or should I call you Kannamma,

    I am also an avid cook and recently bought my Komo Fidibus XL mill and was hunting for the right kind of Wheat to use for my chappati when I came across your article. Very interesting and well researched and thanks for the same.

    We should stay connected. I like Japanese knifes, Masamoto, Aritsugu and Sakai Takayuki are my favs, Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee and my new mentor is Marc Vetri.

  79. Samma research!

    We tried baking bread last week and faced the same problem. This article gives a lot of clarity. Thanks

  80. Good day. Iam planing to make ready to cook chapathies for costumers. Need your valuable advice for selecting kind of atta, please suggest.

  81. My attempts to make an artisanal no knead bread with a crusty top using Indian Sehore whole wheat flour have been disastrous.

    All the recipes in US websites use Arthur Mill or other brand whole wheat flour.
    I experimented with different types of wheat flour and adding gluten too. I read up a bit on flour behaviour but did not get anywhere.

    Your article is an eye opener. Will try Sharbati whole wheat flour and report back. If you have any other suggestions do let me know.

    1. Varsha Rajeswaran

      Hi Shankar,
      I would recommend using 24 Mantra’s organic whole wheat flour if you are okay with store bought ready-milled flour.It makes awesomely soft, very LIGHT( for a whole wheat loaf) , fluffy and airy bread loaves and slices with an appetisingly crackly sound. But I should say that I’ve not tried baking a no-knead bread.although,apparently the flour is made from wheat berries of the durum variety.

      I’ve tried baking with the sharbati flour (again not no-knead)before with acceptable results. But never satisfying.

      Ps: i bake my loaves with a high hydration ,very sticky dough of about 80-82pc.

      1. hi varsha,

        how interesting! i tried 24 mantra’s whole wheat flour without adding gluten and was not satisfied with the loaves. do you add gluten to get your light and airy whole wheat bread? thank you 🙂

  82. Sunita Mehra

    Loved your very informative article on wheat.
    Is Aashirwad atta good for making bread?
    Thanks
    Sunita Mehra

  83. Hi Suguna ,
    Excellent and well researched article. I need a favor from you. I am planning to buy domestic flour mill as I no longer like rotis made by ready flours.I do not know if it is psychological , I get a weird smell when roti puffs. I understand that there are many models in the market based on the grinding technology. Now that you have done so much study on this , I would like to use your knowledge to buy the appropriate mill. I request you kindly to help me. I have gathered some information on the models. you can reply back to me on my email.
    thank you and look forward for a favorable reply

    1. Thanks. Even if you have not used domestic mill , I am sure you will be able to give some inputs if I give you information about the grinding technologies of different models. How can I get in touch with you one-on-one ? ? ?

    2. I use nutrimill for grinding wheat, rye and spelt (others are possible) and I am very satisfied with it. There are many outlets where you can get it. And there are also hand grinders. I can grind 1 kg of wheat berries in about 4-5 minutes.

      Do your “price” research and choose.

    3. Hi Aparna,

      I was facing a similar issue and recently bought Granamill. It uses traditional stone grinders for grinding grains. Till now, I am satisfied with the quality of flour.

      Abhay

  84. Only yourself and the devil knows why you are struggling to make yeast blown, uncooked item called bread and spoiling your intestines causing a plethora of diseases ( many still undiagnosed).Thousands of years ago our ancestors perfected the art of preparing rotis and chapathis. Pl.switch to these and keep everyone in your family healthy.

  85. Harini Gopalswami

    Hi Suguna, thanks for the interesting and informative post. I am a novice farmer, looking into grinding my own flour and pressing my own oil — that’s how I stumbled on your blog. I’ll definitely come back for more! Btw, my grandmother was called Kannammal, it’s such a sweet name!

    1. Harini Gopalswami

      I’m not very expert at bread making, but one thing which seems to work well for me is adding mashed overripe bananas to the dough. I don’t mean banana bread or a fruit loaf, but ordinary salty bread. It has a nice fragrance and is quite soft. I use Navadarshanam atta, which is stone ground and much coarser than the run-of-the-mill (pun intended) atta you get in the shops. This is great for chapattis, but I’m still experimenting with bread made of various combinations of atta, millets, oats, etc. They all come out, as you say, rather dense and crumby. In your experience, which makes better bread — coarse or fine flour?

  86. I have had great success using Atta both regular and Sharbati in the ‘no knead’ recipes. I use below
    2 cups atta
    1 cup all purpose
    1/4 tsp yeast
    1 tbsp salt
    1 tbsp sugar
    1 and 3/4 cup water
    Mix till all incorporated above and
    cover and put aside at room temperature for around 11-18 hours. Then with liberally floured hands and surface mix
    and make a tight ball and put seam side down and cover till oven preheats at 450f for around 1/2 hour with a covered Dutch oven. Cast iron or stainless steel are ok. Now transfer the dough still seam side down to a parchment paper. Slash any shape(X, crosshatch or heart shape). Transfer carefully to the preheated pot. Cover and bake for 30 mins. Now uncover and continue baking for 20/25 mins till deep golden crust is formed. Cool 1/2 hour on a rack and enjoy. Don’t forget you need a serrated knife for cutting the bread

  87. Thank you Suguna! Very informative piece, I never figured why my Rotis with US flour never came out well!

  88. Hello

    Thanks for this excellent post. I was just reading up about how to make 100% WW bread in Bangalore when I came across your article. I have a flour mill nearby, and I also have 24 Mantra Organic 100% WW atta. Which one do you suggest I try so I don’t fail miserably. We love our Trader Joes WW White bread but sadly “brown” bread in Bangalore is just the color, nothing whole wheat 🙁

  89. Hi Suguna.

    Thank you for writing such a useful and fascinating article. I have struggled to make decent bread in Goa for a couple of years now and it always came out crumbly like a cake. I bought the atta with the highest protein content I could find (when store bought) and mixed it with varying proportions of maida, but the results were always the same, and I resigned myself to adding Vital Wheat gluten. What I couldn’t understand was how come Goans make such good bread! There is a history of leavened bread here and whether fluffy white or wholemeal, it has good crust and texture. I will see if I can find Sharbati Atta locally.

    kind regards

    Ian

    1. Ian, can I ask where you are buying the Vital Wheat gluten in Goa?

      Thanks and kind regards

  90. Dear Suguna,

    I am a vegan Brit who has been teaching health overseas for 25 years. Since turning to a plant-based diet over 10 years ago, I replaced my bread machine with my hands, and now make the most wonderful bread. I currently live in Singapore, where I purchase ‘HouseBrand’ 100% wholewheat Atta. It makes the most fabulous bread ever. However, a month ago when the NTUC was out of stock, I purchased the Aashivaad flour (as pictured on your site) from a little shop owner and tried that. The results were awful and completely inedible. I had produced a gummy, gooey, rubbery, inside to the bread that would not cook no matter how long it stayed in the oven. Was this due to the protein and starch damage referred to in your article? I think I remember encountering this once before in China, with a local flour I had tried.
    My family will move to Dhaka in August and I am worried that I will not be able to get a flour that replicates my success with the ‘Housebound’ atta. I even take this flour with me when I travel for holidays.
    Regards
    Neil

    1. Hi Neil, The chakki ground flour doesn’t work well for bread. But if you do not have a choice, then adding a little vital gluten might help. The other option would be to get the wheat kernels from the shop and then mill it in a nearby flour mill. Many households in India grind their own flour in a nearby mill. You should be able to locate one in your neighborhood for sure. Wishes with your move. Hoping things fall in place for you. Suguna

  91. Hey Suguna,

    A very well researched and beautifully written and article. Goes out to show your passion really!
    I live in Bangalore too and would like to connect with you. I write a blog called notestoself.in and would like to interview and feature you for a new section i’m starting.
    Could you please inbox me contact details on [email protected] if interested?

    Thanks for sharing this recipe 🙂

    -Varsha

  92. Great article, thanks! I live in Malaysia, I’m from the U.S., and married to an Indian. So I use a lot of atta flour to make chapattis and also for baking. I, like you, have found that it does not always work perfectly. As in your recipe, I usually add in some wheat gluten. I find that it works really well in cakes and cookies, though. I always use atta flour in cakes and our friends are always pleasantly surprised to find that cakes can be made healthier but still be tasty! Thanks for your explanation about the sharbati atta. Actually that’s how I found this page because after 12 years here in Malaysia I found some sharbati atta flour at the store for the first time and I wasn’t sure what was different about it so I looked it up. Now I know! I bought it, so I’ll see whether it is actually tastier or not.

      1. Very well researched .Thanks for sharing. Have anyone tried using Samrat Atta to make chapattis?

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