Maida is a white flour from the Indian subcontinent, made from wheat. Finely milled without any bran, refined, and bleached, it closely resembles cake flour. Maida is used extensively for making fast foods, baked goods such as pastries, bread, several varieties of sweets, and traditional flatbreads. Owing to this wide variety of uses, it is sometimes labeled and marketed as "all-purpose flour", though it is different from all-purpose flour.
Maida is made from the endosperm and it is developed from the starchy white part of the grain. The bran is separated from the germ and endosperm which is then refined by passing through a sieve of 80 mesh per inch (31 mesh per centimeter). Although naturally yellowish due to pigments present in wheat, maida is typically bleached, either naturally due to atmospheric oxygen, or with any of a number of flour bleaching agents.
While it is milled from winter, and wheat that has a high gluten content, heat generated during the milling process results in denaturing of the protein, limiting its use in the preparation of leavened breads.
A common misconception is that maida contains alloxan, which itself is banned in developed countries for usage in food, added as a bleaching agent or formed as a byproduct of bleaching. While it is a minor product of xanthophyll oxidation, there is no evidence that trace amounts of alloxan formed comprise a health risk.
Maida is used extensively in Central Asian cuisine and cuisine from the Indian subcontinent. Flatbreads such as naan and tandoori roti are made using maida. Bhatoora is a fluffy, deep-fried, leavened bread made with maida and yogurt.
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