Is Atta flour high gluten?

Atta flour, also known as chapatti flour, is a whole wheat flour that is commonly used to make flatbreads like chapatti, roti, naan and puri in South Asian cuisine. It has a medium gluten content, which makes it suitable for making these unleavened breads.

What is atta flour?

Atta flour is made from hard wheat varieties that are high in protein and gluten. It contains the bran, germ and endosperm of the whole wheat kernel. Atta is coarse in texture and ranges in color from creamy to golden brown.

The exact wheat varieties used can vary, but common ones include durum and bread wheats like hard red winter wheat. The wheat is ground on traditional stone grinders called chakki to produce an coarse, stone-ground whole wheat flour.

Compared to refined all-purpose or bread flours, atta has higher fiber and nutrition content as it contains the nutrient-dense germ and bran. It also has a nutty, earthy flavor.

Gluten content of atta flour

The gluten content of atta flour can range from medium to high depending on the wheat variety used:

  • Medium gluten – 9-12% protein – Varieties like hard red winter wheat
  • High gluten – 12-14% protein – Varieties like hard white wheat, durum wheat

So while some atta can be medium gluten, other varieties are classified as high gluten flours. They typically have a protein content of 12% or higher.

Here’s how the gluten content of atta compares to other flours:

Flour Type Gluten Content
All-purpose flour Low (8-10% protein)
Whole wheat flour Medium (11-12% protein)
Atta flour Medium to high (9-14% protein)
Bread flour High (12-14% protein)
Vital wheat gluten Very high (75-85% protein)

As you can see, atta overlaps the range of both medium gluten whole wheat flour and high gluten bread flour. So while not all atta is classified as high gluten, some varieties do fit this category.

Role of gluten in atta flour

Gluten refers to the proteins glutenin and gliadin that are found in wheat flour. When mixed with water, these proteins form an elastic network that provides the structure and chewiness in baked goods.

In unleavened flatbreads like chapatti, the medium to high gluten content of atta provides some stretch and binding ability. This allows the dough to be rolled out and shaped without tearing too easily.

However, excessive gluten development is also undesirable in chapatti dough, as it can make the flatbread tough. Therefore, atta works well as it provides just the right amount of gluten strength and extensibility.

All-purpose flour is too low in gluten to make good chapatti, while very high gluten bread flour can result in flatbreads that are too chewy.

Factors affecting gluten content

The gluten content of atta flour is influenced by:

  • Wheat variety – Hard wheats are higher in protein and gluten than soft wheats
  • Growing conditions – Higher soil fertility and proper rainfall increases protein content
  • Milling – Stone grinding minimizes loss of gluten proteins
  • Sifting – Removing a portion of bran slightly concentrates the gluten

Therefore, gluten development starts right from the wheat field. Using hard wheat varieties grown in optimal conditions ensures a high protein, high gluten atta suited for chapatti making.

Is high gluten atta better?

A higher gluten content translates to increased dough strength and elasticity. This had some advantages:

  • Forms good dough balls that are easy to roll out without tearing
  • Provides some stretch and chew to the cooked flatbread
  • Results in puffed up leavened breads
  • Can support heavier wheat doughs

However, higher gluten flours also have some drawbacks:

  • Can produce tough or rubbery flatbreads
  • Requires careful moisture control during dough making
  • Not suited for short dough fermentation times
  • Unpleasantly chewy texture for some

The medium gluten content of regular atta provides a good balance between dough strength and soft pliable texture.

High gluten atta, while able to make soft and tender chapatti, requires more skill in mixing, kneading and rolling to achieve this. It may also need longer resting times for good results.

Common brands of atta

Some common brands of atta flour include:

  • Patanjali Atta – High gluten
  • Aashirvaad Multigrain Atta – Medium gluten
  • Pillsbury Chakki Fresh Atta – Medium gluten
  • Annapurna Atta – Medium gluten
  • Shakti Bhog Atta – High gluten
  • Nature Fresh Atta – Medium gluten

Among these, the Patanjali, Shakti Bhog and Pillsbury atta flours tend to be higher in gluten based on their protein content of 12% or more.

The Aashirvaad Multigrain, Annapurna and Nature Fresh atta have a lower protein content of 10-11% indicating a medium gluten level.

However, there can be variation between batches based on crop quality. So these are just general guidelines on the gluten levels of common atta brands.

Testing atta flour for gluten

While labeling provides an estimate of protein and gluten content, you can also test the atta flour directly:

  • Kneading test – Knead 10g flour + 5mL water. Medium gluten dough will be smooth and hold shape well without cracking. High gluten dough will be very stretchy.
  • Wash test – Mix 10g flour + 50mL water. Allow sediment to settle and pour off starch. High gluten flour will have an elastic clump of gluten remaining.
  • Gluten strip test – Make a dough ball and gently stretch into a thin strip. High gluten dough can stretch several inches before breaking.
  • Fermentation test – High gluten dough will rise higher and have larger air pockets.

These simple tests give a good indication of the gluten quality of the atta flour.

Uses of high gluten atta

Some uses of high gluten atta include:

  • Making chapatti, roti, naan – Good dough strength aids rolling and layering
  • Deep fried poori and kachori – More puffiness and crispness
  • Aerated breads like kulcha, focaccia – Provides good rise
  • Pizza dough – Chewy, stretchy crust
  • Puff pastry – Flaky layers
  • Choux pastry – Good rise for cream puffs, éclairs
  • Leavened breads – Strong, tall rise in bread loaves

However, for soft burger buns, cake, cookies and biscuits, a medium or low gluten flour is more suitable.

Modifying gluten content

The gluten level of atta can be adjusted by mixing with other flours:

  • Reduce gluten – Mix with maida (refined wheat flour) or lower protein flour like rye or oat
  • Increase gluten – Mix with vital wheat gluten or high gluten bread flour

Usually a mix of up to 30% of the second flour gives optimal results. Too much can compromise the dough properties.

For example, mixing regular medium gluten atta 50:50 with maida reduces the overall gluten content to low. This makes it suitable for more tender, less chewy flatbreads.

Alternative flours

Those looking to reduce or avoid gluten can use these gluten-free alternatives to atta flour:

  • Rice flour – For rice-based flatbreads like roti
  • Sorghum flour – For traditional jowar roti
  • Buckwheat flour – For savory crepes, biscuits
  • Chickpea flour (besan) – For flatbreads, pakoras
  • Almond flour – For bread, pastries, cookies
  • Coconut flour – As a binder in baked goods

However, these gluten-free flours lack the elasticity provided by wheat gluten. So some adjustments in recipe moisture and cooking method are needed when swapping for atta.


While not all atta flour is classified as high gluten, some varieties do contain over 12% protein. These high protein hard wheat atta flours provide extra dough strength and elasticity.

The medium gluten content of regular atta imparts good chapatti making properties. Meanwhile, high gluten atta can produce very stretchy and chewy flatbreads.

Gluten quality can be tested with simple kneading and washing tests. Mixing atta with other flours allows easy adjustment of the overall gluten level as per recipe needs.

Those looking for gluten-free options can experiment with flour alternatives. But additional moisture and care is needed to adapt recipes without wheat gluten.

So in summary, while atta flour is generally medium in gluten, some types are on the high side. The exact protein and gluten level varies by wheat variety, growing conditions and milling process.

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