Apas are an unleavened Indian flatbread that are also called bhakri in many Maharashtrian households. Made of rice flour, these handmade breads are gluten-free and so so soft!
Softer than chapatis or rotis, these traditional East Indian flatbreads called apas or handbreads. A bit more difficult to make than rotis, they require to make a dough of cooked rice flour which we call a ‘khoi’.
A little time-consuming, it also requires a good deal of practice to get it right, or you get map-shaped handbreads to play with. They still taste nice and are super soft.
To learn how to make your own apas or homemade rice flour flatbreads, continue reading our recipe below. By the way, these flatbreads are also made by other local Maharashtrian cultures and are called bhakri.
Ingredients Used to make East Indian Handbreads Called Apas
All you need is water, salt and rice flour. Literally! You can add a bit of oil to the dough while cooking if you want to, but it’s not part of the traditional recipe.
And make sure you absolutely don’t heat the apas with oil or they’ll turn crunchy like a papad (which isn’t too bad, but really not the aim of the recipe.)t
If you’re going on the Daniel fast, apas or rice flour hand-breads can be eaten with your food because they are made without any leavening agents, and don’t contain any oil either!
How to make East Indian Handbreads?
To make these unleavened Indian rice-based flatbreads called apas, you start by heating the water and salt in a pot.
Once the starts to boil, add the flour and cook for a few minutes to form the khoi (We East Indians call the cooked rice dough a khoi).
After you mix the flour to form the khoi take it off the heat and pour it out onto a thala (flat-bottomed steel dish) and knead to form a dough Add more water if needed. It’s better if you wait for a few minutes before you start to massage the dough or you’ll end up with really red palms like when moulding marzipan.
Make small balls and then press with the palm of your hand on the back side of a tawa or thali till it reaches about six to eight inches in diameter.
Now, let me tell you this. Granny used to make really nice handbreads. Me on the other hand, I love eating handbreads, but I find chapatis easier. My handbreads don’t turn out as round as hers.
When you’re in a hurry like me and want a shortcut, just use rice flour and roll it out with a rolling pin to make it easier.
Traditionally the apas or handbreads were collected in a soop or soopli (a traditional Indian basket that’s shaped like a winnowing fan.) We used to also use those sooplis to fan our grandpa and grandma when the power went out. Got paid 5 paise for all that arm exercise. Nowadays, we just leave the rolled-out handbreads on the thala (flat-bottomed steel platter) or a wet kitchen cloth.
Cook these rice handbreads called apas on a tawa without any oil or ghee. They’re really soft on their own. If you add oil or ghee, the whole point of making them is lost. They turn hard and crunchy.
You’ll find that apas are so soft that even your toothless great grandparents can bite them. Plus, they’re really filling.
If you want our traditional East Indian recipes on hand, the Abby's Plate Cookbook Series books are available online or in-store in most countries.
Christmas with the Rebellos:
East Indian Meals & Desserts from Abby's Plate
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What’s Perfect About This Apas or East Indian Handbreads Recipe?
- East Indian apas are made with just three ingredients – water, salt and rice flour!
- Handbreads are also gluten free.
- It can be eaten with breakfast, lunch, and dinner or even as a snack.
- Goes well with vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
- For a quick snack or breakfast, heat an apa and eat with green chutney or mango pickle or balachao or bombil thesao.
Cooking Tips and Tricks For Making Apas
- Apas can be eaten on the Daniel fast since they’re unleavened. They’re a really good accompaniment for many Daniel feast sides and fasting snacks.
- Don’t use oil or butter or your apas will get hard.
- Don’t make the handbreads too thin or they won’t puff.
- Don’t worry if the hand bread does not puff, it’s still cooked. With more practice you’ll be able to make handbreads that puff.
- After heating, you can add butter or ghee (Indian clarified butter) on top if you wish to simply enjoy as a snack.
- You can use the same recipe to make nachni or ragi bakris.
- Leftover rotis can be stored in an airtight container or ziplock bag. They will last for a few days in the refrigerator or for 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
- The rice flour dries out over time. So, to reheat the apa, add it to a skillet or tawa with a teaspoon of water before eating. The apas will become really soft.
What are the other names for Apas or Rice Bhakri?
Maharashtrian rice rotis or rice bhakri are called by many different names here in Maharashtra. Some of them include:
- Tandalachi Bhakri
- Tandulachi Bhakri
- तांदळाची भाकरी
- Chawal Bhakri
- Rice flour bhakri
- Rice flour roti
- Rice roti
- Nachni roti
- Ragi roti
- Nachni chawal roti
Why is it called tandulachi bhakri? Because tandul is the Marathi word for rice. Tandulachi bhakri simply means bread made of rice.
What to serve with Apas or Bhakri?
- Green chutney
- Mango pickle
- Bombil thesao
- Duck moile
- Pork yellow vindaloo
- Masoor dal and potato chops
Apas – Bhakri – Handbread – East Indian Rice Flatbread
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- 250 g Rice Flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 200 ml Water More or less as needed
- Heat the water and salt in a pot.
- Once it starts to boil, add the flour and cook for four to five minutes.
- Mix the flour and take off the heat. Pour it into a thala and knead to form a dough (which we East Indians call a khoi). Add more water if needed.
- Make small balls and then press with the hand on the back side of a tawa till it reaches about six to eight inches in diameter. (Nowadays, we just roll it out with a rolling pin to make it easier.)
- Traditionally the apas or handbreads were collected in a soop or soopli (traditional Indian basket that's shaped like a winnowing fan.) We just leave them on the thala (flat-bottomed steel platter) or ktichen cloth nowadays.
- Cook these rice handbreads called apas on a tawa without any oil or ghee. They're really soft on their own.
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Nutrition (Per Serving)
Disclaimer: Nutrition Information per serving is estimated by a third party software based on the ingredients used, and is for informational purposes only. It will vary from product to product, based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients. Please consult the package labels of the ingredients you use, or chat with your dietician for specific details.
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