This easy homemade stuffed flatbread is filled with potato, spinach, green onion and herbs. Fried until crisp and golden, this yeast-free vegan flatbread is inspired by Afghan bolani. Easy to make, vegan stuffed bread is perfect any time whether you are craving a savory breakfast, appetizer, side or light meal.
Thank you to Stahlbush Island Farms for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
I was inspired to make my own vegan stuffed flatbread for the times I’m unable to get to one of my favorite Afghan restaurants which serves the best bolani. It is an amazing roti stuffed with mashed potato, green onions and herbs. It’s so simple and yet so delicious!
Bolani (boulani or boulanee) is a flatbread from Afghanistan. Perhaps you have also heard of aloo paratha which is quite similar but originates from India. Both flatbreads feature a simple dough stuffed, sealed and then fried until crisp and golden. While bolani can be stuffed with a variety of different fillings, I was trying to recreate the lightly spiced potato and green onion stuffed flatbread like the one I’ve enjoyed so many times.
Simple Unleavened Dough
This easy bread recipe is made faster by using a yeast-free dough. Because the dough does not have any yeast, there is no need to leave it to rise for 1-2 hours like yeast-leavened dough. Simply mix together the flour, salt, a bit of oil and water. Knead it for just a few minutes until it’s soft and elastic, and then cover it so it can relax for 20-30 minutes. You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer. Letting the dough sit, allows the gluten fibers in the dough to hydrate and relax. Relaxed dough is much easier to roll out.
Potato, Spinach and Green Onion Filling
The vegetable filling is very simple and comes together in a few minutes. This is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes, but you can also use freshly cooked potatoes. Simply mix together the mashed potatoes, spinach, sliced green onions, cilantro and spices. I used Stahlbush Island Farms’ Frozen Cut Spinach – I prefer using frozen spinach in this recipe which I thaw and then squeeze to remove the excess moisture.
In my quest for a similar flavor profile to what I’ve enjoyed at the Afghan restaurant, I added a bit of garam masala to the filling. This spice mix provides a nice warmth to the filling. If you’d like the flatbreads to be a little spicier, you could add in some finely diced green chili peppers.
If you don’t like or have cilantro, feel free to use whatever fresh herbs you have available. Fresh basil would be delicious!
How to Assemble the Bolani
Once the dough has relaxed, divide it into 8 equal pieces. I like to make smaller ones so they are easier to cook and flip two bolani at a time in a 12” (30 cm) skillet. Roll each ball into an 8” (20 cm) circle, keeping the other balls covered so they don’t dry out.
Scoop an 8th of the filling onto half of the circle of dough, leaving a 1/2” (1.3 cm) border clear so you can make a good seal. If there is filling all the way to the edge of the circle, the dough will not seal and your filling will come out in the pan which can cause sticking and burning. Using a large cookie scoop, which is about 1/3 cup, makes short work of dividing the filling equally.
Dip your finger in a bit of water and run it around the edges of the circle. Lift the other side of the dough over the filling. Press the edges firmly together to create a seal. Press gently on the flatbread to release any air, resealing if necessary. If your skillet is large, you can flatten and stretch your bolani thinner at this point, if desired.
Heat a bit of oil in a large skillet – I love cast iron for flatbread because it retains its heat so well. Depending on the size of your skillet, you will be able to fry one or two bolani at a time. Fry two minutes per side with the lid on. Keep an eye on the heat – if the dough starts to burn before two minutes has passed, lower it a little.
This vegan flatbread is customizable. Almost anything wrapped and fried in thin dough is good, right? You could use other cooked vegetables. For instance, instead of potatoes, you could try cooked mashed sweet potatoes. I have heard of bolani stuffed with a cooked lentil mixture, and this sounds amazing for a little nutritional boost. I’m sure sneaking in some lightly mashed chickpeas, a bit of ground vegan meat, or any other minced vegetables you love would work very well.
High water content vegetables like broccoli, kale, mushrooms etc., should be lightly sautéed and cooled before using them in the stuffing so they don’t leach out their juices while the bolani cooks. Don’t overstuff your flatbreads, paying attention to the amount of veggie stuffing in the original recipe. If you have leftover flatbread filling, you can set it in the fridge for a few days until your next batch of flatbread dough.
How to Serve Bolani
Bolani is often served with yogurt. At our local Afghan restaurant, they also serve it with pickled cabbage and a bit of chickpea stew. We have enjoyed the bolani this way as an appetizer, but also as a light meal.
For a complete plant-based dinner, I like to serve this flatbread with with red lentil cauliflower dal or sweet potato lentil curry.
Other serving suggestions which are tasty, but not traditional, include dips like vegan tzatziki, salsa, chutney or guacamole.
Prepare the dough and the filling ahead of time, storing them separately in airtight containers, for up to a few days. Let the dough rest at room temperature before rolling out.
Once made and cooked, the stuffed flatbreads are best enjoyed fresh and hot, but can be refrigerated for up to five days, or frozen for a few months in an airtight container. To reheat, first thaw the bolani in the fridge and then pan fry in a small amount of oil. Alternatively, the flatbreads can be wrapped in tinfoil and heated in the oven.
More Handheld Vegan Meals
- Cauliflower Gyros
- Easy, Grillable and Hearty Burgers
- Caramelized Onion, Veggie Sausage and Kale Pizza with Almond Ricotta
- Cherry Tomato Galette with Pesto and Cashew Cheese
If you make this Easy Stuffed Vegan Flatbread, please give it a rating in the recipe card and leave a comment below! Follow along on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes! You can also follow me on Pinterest for vegan recipe inspiration and on Facebook. Thank you for reading!
Easy Stuffed Flatbread (Bolani)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
Potato Spinach Filling:
- 4 medium potatoes (or 3 cups mashed potatoes)
- 5 oz frozen cut spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- ½ cup green onions or scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cilantro, roughed chopped
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp garam masala (optional)
- ground black pepper, to taste
For the Flatbread Dough:
- In a medium sized bowl with a wooden spoon, or in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, stir the flour and salt together. Pour in the water and oil. If doing by hand, mix with a spoon until it becomes difficult and then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until soft and elastic but not sticky or dry. If doing this in a stand-mixer, knead the dough for 3 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball, place back into the bowl and cover for 30 minutes so it can relax at room temperature.
For the Potato Spinach Filling:
- Scrub and peel the potatoes. Chop into medium chunks and boil in water until they can be pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Drain well. OR, you can bake whole potatoes by scrubbing them, leaving the skins on, pricking with a pointed knife all over (to let the steam escape so the potato does not explode) and microwave until soft, about 10-15 minutes depending on your microwave and the size of your potatoes. Some microwaves have a potato preset which is useful. Once baked and cooled enough to handle, scoop out the insides and mash with a fork. OR, use 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes (warm or cold.)
- Place the cooked potatoes into a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher or a fork until each piece is broken up but the potatoes are not pureed. Some texture is nice. Add the spinach, green onions, cilantro, cumin, salt, and garam masala. Stir well to combine.
To Assemble the Flatbreads:
- Divide the dough evenly into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, dusting the work surface and your hands with a bit of flour if needed. Keep the dough covered as you roll each piece of dough, placing the ball back under the cover to keep them from drying out.
- Taking one ball at a time, place it on a lightly floured or oiled surface and roll it into an 8" (20 cm) circle. Spread ⅛ of the filling onto one half of the dough circle, leaving a ½” (1.3 cm) border around the edges. Using a large cookie scoop, which is about ⅓ cup, makes short work of dividing the filling equally. Any filling on the border will prevent the flatbread from sealing and your filling may come out.
- Brush the border with a bit of water on your fingertip to help secure a seal and fold the other side of the dough over the filling. Press firmly or pinch around the border to seal the flatbread closed, pressing out any air as you go.
- Repeat with the remaining dough balls and filling. I find it easiest to start cooking once the first two flatbreads are ready to fry, assembling the rest of the flatbreads as I cook the first ones.
To Cook the Flatbreads:
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat (cast iron is great for flatbread). Add a teaspoon of oil, spread it around and when a drop of water dances in the pan, it is ready and you can add your flatbread. Depending on the size of your pan, you may be able to fit two in a time but do not overcrowd the pan or the flatbreads can weld together.
- Press the flatbread down with a spatula to ensure even cooking, then cover with a lid or baking sheet for 2 minutes, checking the bottom at 1 minute. If the flatbread burns within 1-2 minutes, your heat is too high. When ready, flip the flatbread over, press down again gently and put the lid back on, cooking for another 1-2 minutes. Add a bit more oil to the skillet before cooking each new flatbread.
- Place the flatbreads on a wire cooling rack as you continue cooking the rest. The wire rack will help prevent them from becoming soggy on the bottom. Alternatively, you can keep them in a warm oven on a baking sheet.
- Serve with your desired dip – chutney, vegan tzatziki, yogurt, sour cream, or guacamole are all great options but the flatbread is also delicious on its own. Makes a great accompaniment to curry or dal.
The Nutrition Information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the Nutrition Information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.
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Saturday 25th of June 2022
Can you use gluten free self raising flour for this?
Bronwyn Fraser | Crumbs & Caramel
Tuesday 28th of June 2022
Hi Patricia, I have not tried using gluten-free self raising flour for this recipe so I'm not sure! The dough would likely puff quite a bit more as there is no leavener in the recipe as written. I would think that it should work, it will just have a different texture. I'd love to hear how it turns out if you give it a go! ~ Bronwyn
Monday 24th of January 2022
Ahh I think you are speaking of our favorite and sadly missed Afghan restaurant in Vancouver (we now live on Vancouver Island) It was a weekly tradition to take my 5yr old to East is East after his outdoor school for Bolani! Thank you for this recipe! now I can try to recreate it for him at home -Yay! all the best, Nita and little Phoenix
Thursday 3rd of March 2022
We have made this recipe and we LOVE it !! Thank you for helping preserve this fun tradition 😉 … and yes we are enjoying beautiful Vancouver Island it is quite magical! all the best, Nita
Crumbs & Caramel
Tuesday 25th of January 2022
You're right, Nita! I love that you made a trip to East is East a weekly tradition with your 5 year old - that's pretty cute! I hope you both enjoy this recipe and that it takes you right back (the filling here is a little thicker). Hope you're enjoying Vancouver Island, it's such a beautiful place! ~ Bronwyn