“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” said Matthew in the Bible. Things have changed somewhat since then, of course. More so now that the Karnataka bench of the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR) has decreed that roti is not generic and all Indian breads cannot be categorised under it. As parathas need to be reheated a pre-requisite that would probably be hotly contested by many who routinely consumed them as is the AAR has ruled they shall attract 18% GST rather than the 5% levied on ready-to-eat rotis.
Not since Marie Antoinette supposedly drew unwanted attention to the relative distinction between bread and cake has there been such a significant delineation of this basic source of carbohydrates. That 13% difference means a lot of dough rides on the name so the petitioner, a manufacturer of a range of foodstuff including ‘Malabar parotas’, naturally would not want to admit any difference.
Parathas/parotas and rotis are unleavened flatbreads, but connoisseurs will side with the AAR on the fact that a roti by any other name is not a paratha, though they may differ on whether ghee or oil is the latter’s defining ingredient. However, since the legal sticking point was the nomenclature, it may not be long before a new, affordable flatbread debuts, called the Paroti.