The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flour in India

shalooney's picture
shalooney

Flour in India

Hi everyone. I live in Delhi, India, where we don't generally get good flour for bread baking. I have seen a few posts about it on this site. What we usually get is maida, and it's called all-purpose flour, but it seems to be somewhat different from it too. The brand I usually buy states it has 10-11% protein.

I used to live in the Philippines where we get [what I assume is American-style] bread flour, all-purpose flour, etc. I used to bake there (mostly with bread flour) where I got pretty good at baking different types of breads with instant yeast. It seems to me that the regular store-bought flour here is such that I can't play around with it much. The only thing I can do is make soft breads that many times have more than a little oil, butter, yogurt, eggs, etc. I've tried baking with atta (Indian whole wheat flour) too, and the outcome is really not that great. I like soft breads but I also like to make a variety of breads and don't want to eat soft bread all the time.

Anyway, here, there seems to be a secret about the bakers about where to get good flour for baking. I have spoken to some bakers who bake and sell sourdough breads, and I was told that there you can get good baking flour here. I found a company who does sell what they call T55 and T65 flour (not Josef Marc.. they just add gluten and call it T55/T65.. how is this allowed?), but it has a strange and very distinct floral fragrance... no matter how I bake it. I don't get that nice aroma of freshly baked bread with it. It's also really expensive, so I'm not too happy with it.

Now I'm not sure where to get better flour or if it's only available at the industrial level - from millers who sell 25 kg sacks at a time. It seems to be a secret that no one wants to divulge, maybe only if I take expensive baking classes... I am hoping there is an Indian here who may know about the flour issue and situation here and have some information for me.

Thank you so much!

pul's picture
pul

On Instagram

Bread_umbaker is baking great bread out of Mumbai. Perhaps you can get some ideas where to get flour

shalooney's picture
shalooney

thank you! i will check the instagram account out.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Hi, I just got some indian flour for paratha which in hope to take a stab at soon.  I haven even opened the bat yet but first (or really second) thought was I wonder how this would hold up as bread flour.  I think I'll mix some up today and try and get a sense for how it responds in a bread scenario.  Also I have a lot of experience with T65 so hopefully we can glean some insight here.  As for your comments on getting good french flour you can only really get here in usa larger quantities but in my opinion and usual baking habits it absolutely worth it.  I'll try and post some more here as I discover more and will post details ... 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

So I immediately opened the package to get a sense of what I bought.  Btw so glad to find this post considering I just sort of serendipitously to try it out last time I went to pick up spices etc.  

So just opened the bag to take a smell and got to say it has a nice aroma and a little beany smelling I suspect some garbanzo is blended in despite not mention on the bag of beans.  It's very yellow like whole wheat without the huge bran fragments.  This excites me because it near impossible to find whole wheat ground this way.  This is similar to French milling whereby bran is totally pulverized.  Here's what I'm thinking.  Maybe this flour can be augmented to react like french flour.  I'm inclined to blend some white AP at about 50% and maybe add some malt because inget the sense this is not already malted.  

More to come ... 

shalooney's picture
shalooney

You're talking about the whole wheat flour, I'm guessing, not the maida (Indian all-purpose flour/white flour). I don't think it has any bean flour mixed in, or maybe it was processed with the same machine or factory as besan (chana dal flour, similar to chickpea flour but not exactly, commonly used in Indian cuisine), so maybe it has a bit of it. I find that even the all-purpose flour (maida) here has that aroma, and I miss the classic bread aroma that I used to get when I was baking abroad.

Yes, American whole wheat has the bran and endosperm separated. Indian flour does not have it that way.

My issue really is with the maida (all-purpose flour) we get here. There is no bread flour to speak of here. The all-purpose flour here does not seem to be that great for breads either, it does not seem strong. Here, it seems there is a one size fits all approach to the all-purpose flour.. the same flour is supposed to be good for flatbreads, raised yeasted breads.. so that's part of the issue.

Please let me know what you discover anyway.. how can I add malt? Do you use diastatic malt powder?

Thank you!

Mathias's picture
Mathias

I also found Diastatic malt powder. Non-diastatic is to be found everywhere in India, but finally found some. Pricey. 
I use 1-2% in every bake, for sourdough. Gives a slightly browner color, and should help fermentation process, as it is slow food for the bacterias. I have not seen a real noticeable difference in oven spring or crumb, to be honest. But, as I have it, I use it. 

Vital wheat gluten can be used to increase protein content, to allow to build more gluten network. 
I have found it to be tricky to use. Too much and the dough becomes way too stiff. I never got it right, trying to improve Josef Marc T65 flour. Maybe I was overdosing...

Other findings; Spelt really adds extensibilty to the dough. 
Always autolys. But never when using RYE!

Using rye or other coarse flours, sift and soak the larger flour content and add back when laminating. Otherwise, the sharp residues in the flour can cut the gluten when kneading/folding. 

Mathias's picture
Mathias

I bake alot of sourdough. I have tried Josef Marc as well, and clearly it’s a weak flour, which I find hard to get above 70% hydration.


I have tried the TWF assortment as well. TWF Flour X is the best flour that I’ve come across here in India. It can take really high hydration level, takes a real beating without destroying the gluten network. Admittedly not a white bread flour, as it is a mix of flour variants. I use it as the base bread flour nowadays, and add other flours for variations. 

I’ve found Kamut, Amaranth; normal and sprouted, spelt, emmer wheat flour and semola rimacinata; twice milled. All on Amazon.

There is also Swissbake.in selling interesting flour, but seems to be mainly bulk buys, for bakers. Have not tried their products. 

Give TWF ”Flour X” a try, 14% protein content. Works fantastic for sourdough and high hydration doughs. 

Jbaker's picture
Jbaker

Hi, any luck finding high protein flour / bread flour in India??
Pls do lemmw know