Maida is a highly refined flour derived from wheat that is used to make many different Indian pastries, breads and biscuits. It is most commonly used to make naan, paratha and kulcha breads. However, it also works well and is used worldwide to make pizza crust, white bread and tortillas. Maida is made by removing the fibrous bran from the wheat and using only its starchy white endosperm.
Maida flour is available in both bleached and unbleached varieties, with the bleached varieties having less protein than the unbleached maida. Maida is most often made using a blend of both hard and soft wheat.
Maida flour can be used for bread-making and has a number of other applications in cooking, such as thickening sauces, coating fried foods, dusting pans for baking and making cakes. Maida should be stored in a breathable container in a cool, dark and dry location where it can keep for up to eight months.
If maida is unavailable, substitutes include whole wheat pastry flour, cake flour, pastry flour and all-purpose flour. Consuming flours made from whole grains is thought to be healthier than consuming highly processed flours, and for this reason, these are the best substitutes for maida.