This is an easy recipe for a leavened Indian bread that not many people outside of India are familiar with – Amritsari Kulcha. It’s thick, soft and fluffy, with a crisp and flaky outer crust dappled with nutty citrusy crushed coriander seeds and beautiful black onion seeds. Tear the bread apart and it’ll reveal a mouth-wateringly soft and mildly spiced potato mixture.
Making Amritsari Kulcha doesn’t require any fancy equipment. Although they are traditionally baked in a tandoor oven, you can get amazing results using your home-oven and either a pizza stone, tray, or simple baking sheet. It doesn’t require a tawa or blowtorch to get that tempting golden-brown crust. That’s one of the reasons it’s a favourite in our household – it’s a foolproof, easy and no fuss recipe that anyone can make.
Amritsari Kulcha is so named for the city Amritsar in Punjab, which is home to the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) – the most important gurdwara (place of worship) for the Sikh religion. It’s an open house for people from all faiths, so attracts thousands of visitors every day. Apart from this though, Amritsar is also known for it’s kulcha … soft on the inside and flaky on the outside, perfect for eating with any meal.
I am yet to get the chance to visit Amritsar myself, but my partner Nik has visited with his family and came back with many tales about how each street was lined with tandoor ovens filled with Kulcha. I could almost smell them as he described it to me, and knew I had to make some as soon as possible.
Can I make this dish Vegan?
Yes, you can! Simply replace the milk used with water. The texture will be slightly changed but it will still be very tasty. Use any good vegan spread on top when serving.
Can I make Plain Kulcha?
Of course! Just continue with the recipe as usual but eliminate the stuffing element. Just roll out the kulcha to a medium sized oval and bake as instructed.
Can you cook Amritsari Kulcha without an Oven?
Absolutely – I prefer the texture achieved by using an oven but if you don’t have access to one you can get similar results by using a tawa and a gas hob.
Make sure you have a good iron or aluminium tawa. Non-stick is not suitable for this method. Pre-heat the tawa on high flame until it is very hot and then spread water on the back of the kulcha. Place the wet side down onto the hot tawa so it will stick. Cook for a few seconds and then turn the tawa upside down to roast it on the open flame until golden spots appear.
For ideas of other bread recipes, do check out my Methi Parathas – fenugreek flatbreads.
Amritsari Kulcha - Spicy Potato Stuffed Baked Bread
For the Dough:
- 280g Plain Flour (Also known as All-Purpose Flour or Maida)
- 50ml Warm Water
- 1 tsp Active Dried Yeast
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Sunflower Oil or neutral Oil of Choice
- 100ml Warm Milk
- Few tablespoons of flour, for rolling
For the Stuffing:
- 180g Potatoes – 2 Medium, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
- 1/2 tsp Chaat Masala
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1/4 tsp Ajwain (Carom Seeds)
- 1 Thin Green Chilli, chopped
- 2 Stalks Fresh Coriander, chopped
For the Topping:
- 1 tbsp Coriander Seeds, crushed – optional
- 1/2 tsp Kalonji (Black Onion Seeds or Nigella Seeds)
- 1 tbsp Ghee or Butter, optional
To make the Dough:
- Begin by putting the yeast to bloom. Add warm to hot (not boiling) water to a bowl and add active dried yeast and sugar. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast has bloomed and has a frothy, bubbly layer on top.
- Next add plain flour to a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to the flour and mix well. Now add the oil to the dough and mix together with your fingertips. Next add the bloomed yeast mixture and begin to mix with the flour. The dough will be quite dry but will mix. Set aside.
- Heat the milk. Take the required amount of milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat it over low heat for 1-2 minutes, or until hot but not to the point of boiling. Wait 1 minute for this to cool slightly and then carefully pour into your dough mixture.
- Very carefully – the milk is hot – begin to bring the dough together and knead it. It should begin to come together into a smooth dough. Knead for around 5 minutes, or until the dough is extremely soft and not at all sticky. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and place somewhere warm to rise for a minimum of 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
To make the Stuffing:
- First, boil the potatoes until soft. Once done, drain the potatoes and add to a bowl. Mash the potatoes until smooth and then add all of the remaining ingredients under the stuffing section to the bowl. Mix well and cover. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
To shape the Kulcha:
- Preheat your oven to 260-280 degrees C. If using a pizza stone, pizza tray, or baking tray, place this in the oven too.
- Once your dough has risen, give it a quick 1 minute knead once more and then carefully separate it into 6 round balls. Do the same with your stuffing mixture.
- To begin to make the kulcha, take one ball and dip both sides in the flour. Flatten it with your hand and then gently roll it into a small circle. Add the stuffing in the center and close the dough around the stuffing, pinching at the top to insure it remains closed. Once again dip the ball into the flour, and very carefully, without applying any pressure, roll it out into a small oval shape.
- Repeat this process with all kulcha, and then press the coriander seeds, kalonji, and coriander on top.*
To cook the Kulcha:
- By this time your oven should be hot enough. Carefully slide one of the kulcha onto the hot pizza stone and close the oven door. Bake for around 5-8 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and brush with butter or ghee.
- Repeat for all kulcha.
Note: You can add whichever toppings you like on the kulcha. Just adding kalonji alone is fine. Another great option would be white sesame seeds. You can also add a sprinkling of red chilli powder for a little added spice. Mix and match as you desire.
How to Serve Amritsari Kulcha?
If you want a simple meal, you can serve kulcha with coriander chutney, tamarind chutney, fresh curd (homemade thick yoghurt), or chilled yoghurt sweetened with a little sugar and spiced with chilli.
For a more complete meal, the most famous and classic combination is Chole with Kulcha. Chole (otherwise known as Chana Masala) is a dish made with chickpeas that is very aromatic, spicy and slightly sour. Whether you make the rich and spicy restaurant style Chole or a minimal home-style version, the combination with the kulcha is incredible. Another famous pairing is with either Dal Makhani, Amritsari Dal, or Matar Kulcha (a dish made from white peas).
You can even serve it with any kind of Indian dish of your choosing. Pick one that has lots of gravy as the kulcha will soak up the sauce and result in an incredible flavour with every bite.
What is the difference between Kulcha and Naan?
Both Kulcha and Naan are leavened flat-breads made from white flour with origins in the Indian subcontinent. So what is the difference between the two?
- Kulcha is leavened for much less time than Naan. Although different recipes call for different ingredients in Kulcha, a similarity between all recipes will be that the rising time is less than that of Naan. Naan is often left for 4 hours or even longer, whereas Kulcha requires only 1 hour.
- Kulcha has a thick, fluffy and soft texture compared to Naan. The dough is slightly flaky. Naan is thinner, has more air pockets and is lighter to eat, with a more crisp top.
- Unlike naan, kulcha is often stuffed with either potato, paneer or onions. There are plain versions of kulcha, but they are less popular. On the other hand, naan is most commonly eaten without any stuffing, although stuffed versions do exist too.
As always, if you have any questions please leave them in the comments down below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. If you give this recipe a try I would love to know what you think. Please take a photo and tag @ohmyvegofficial on Instagram or send it to any of my personal media accounts!