Apas – East Indian Rice Flour Bread – Bhakri – Handbreads

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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.

It’s also really easy to get torn handbreads. For the scale of difficulty, making rotis or puris or the rice flour crepes called chitaps might be a lot easier.

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 Apas or 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 call the cooked rice dough a khoi).

Boiling water with salt.
Let the water come to a boil
Add rice flour to the boiling water.
Add rice flour to the boiling water
Rice flour added to water and salt mix.
All the rice flour is in
Khoi dough in a steel pot.
Mix the khoi (rice flour dough)
Hand stirring the khoi.
Stir well

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.

Empty the khoi on a thali (large steel platter.)
Empty the khoi on a thali
Apa dough is really white.
Apa dough is really white!
Khoi dough on a steel plate.
Form a dough of the khoi

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.

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Add the rice dough ball to a wet thali or polpat.
Add the rice dough ball to a wet thali or polpat
Use wet hands to mold the apa bread.
Use wet hands to mold the apa – this is what happens when you use too much water

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.

East Indian apa on the thali.
I try to get the apas as round as granny’s, but need more practice
Try to lift the apa off the thali withour breaking.
An almost round apa – wish granny was here!

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.

An easier method is to use rice flour and a rolling pin.
It’s easier to just use rice flour and a rolling pin

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.

Cook the apas (rice flour breads) on a hot tawa.
Cook the apas (rice flour breads) on a hot tawa
Turn the apa over and cook the other side.
Turn the apa over and cook the other side
Mumbai East Indian flatbreads called apas on a plate.
Mumbai’s East Indian flatbreads called apas are made of rice flour

You’ll find that apas are so soft that even your toothless great grandparents can bite them. Plus, they’re really filling.

Serve the apas with your favorite dish – be it duck moile or vindaloo or sambari or masoor dal and potato chops or simply bombil chilli fry.

Mumbai East Indian flatbreads called apas on a plate.

Apas – Bhakri – Handbread – East Indian Rice Flatbread

Abby
Apas are an unleavened Indian flatbread that are called bhakri in many Maharashtrian households. Made of rice flour, these handmade breads are gluten-free and super soft!
4.67 out of 5 Stars by 3 readers!

Click the stars to add your rating! Left you don’t like it, right you love it!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Heating time 24 minutes
Total Time 36 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine East Indian, Indian
Servings 12 Apas
Calories 76 kcal
Dairy free icon on Abbysplate website.
Daniel Fast icon on Abbysplate website.
No added sugar icon on Abbysplate website.
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Ingredients
  

  • 250 Grams Rice Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 200 ml Water More or less as needed

Instructions
 

  • 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.
  • Serve with your favorite dish – be it moile or vindaloo or balchao or chilly fry.

Please click to rate the recipe! Left you don’t like it, right you love it!

Video

Notes

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Stuff You Might Want to Use

Large Wide-bottomed Pan (Thala)
Wooden Rolling Pin
Flatboard
Tawa
Dough Mixer Stand Mixer

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 76kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 196mg | Potassium: 16mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.02g | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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.

This printable recipe card is for home use only. For more recipes head over to AbbysPlate.com

What’s Perfect About The Apas/ Handbreads Recipe?

  • 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.
  • It’s the perfect complement to the vindaloo.
  • 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.
  • You might also like the recipe for chitaps, tricolor rice and rice noodle dessert.
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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?

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Pinterest image of how to make apas/bhakri/rice breads.
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Pinterest image of how to make apas rice breads.

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