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Kyrgyz Swirled Onion Flatbread


Flaky fried breads are popular in Kyrgyzstan, where they are served hot from the pan alongside soup. These flatbreads, called katama, can be made with or without yeast in the dough, but the sweet and slightly spicy caramelized onion is essential. —Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford

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  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 small onions, finely sliced
  • Sea salt
  • Pinch of chile powder (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting 1/2 cup warm water
  • Sunflower oil, for cooking


Servings 4
Adapted from


Step 1

Heat the butter in a small heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onions with a pinch of salt, stirring often, until very soft and golden brown. Season with the chile powder (if using) and set aside to cool.

Put the flour in a large bowl with ½ teaspoon of salt and make a well in the center. Squeeze the onions using the back of a spoon and add any butter that comes out to the flour. Start trickling the warm water into the well while you mix with your other hand.

Bring the dough together and knead for a good couple of minutes. You want dough that is soft and pliable—if it is too dry, add a splash of water; if it is too sticky, add a little more flour.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll out each piece thinly on a floured surface and spread a quarter of the onion over the surface. Roll up into a tube, pinch the ends, and form the tube into a coil with the outside end tucked underneath. It should resemble a cinnamon roll.

Finally, roll it flat again into cardboard-thin rounds. Repeat with the remaining dough. The rounds will contract as they sit so you’ll need to pull them out a little flatter with your hands as you put them in the pan.

Heat a frying pan over medium–high heat and use paper towels to rub it with a little oil. Cook the breads for about 2 minutes on each side, turning after each minute. They should puff up a little and begin to blister as they cook. Serve hot from the pan.

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