Maida is a finely milled refined and bleached (either naturally due to atmospheric oxygen or using other chemical bleaches) wheat flour, closely resembling cake flour, and used extensively in making Indian fast food, Indian bakery products such as pastries and bread, varieties of sweets and in making traditional Indian breads such as paratha, naan, kulcha and rumali roti. In the name of all-purpose flour, Maida is also used worldwide in making of pizza crust, white bread and tortilla.
Maida is a finely milled flour and is usually refined using a fine mesh of 600 mesh per inch (236 mesh per centimeter). In south India, which does not have wheat farms locally, wheat is imported in trucks and rakes and then milled. A common misunderstanding is that tapioca is converted into maida, rava, atta, and bran.
Originally yellowish, maida is popular in a white color, bleached with Azodicarbonamide, chlorine gas, benzoyl peroxide, or other bleaches. The use of benzoyl peroxide in food is banned in China and the European Union, as alternative processing methods are available
A commonly held belief is that maida contains alloxan, 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 thus formed comprise a health risk.
Maida is used in Central Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Maida is used as an adhesive for wall posters in India. In South India maida is used for making "Parottas" which is commonly served with gravy. Pastry flours available in United States may be used as a substitute for maida. Flour of whole wheat, which includes part of the brown outer layer known as bran, is often considered healthier than maida flour as it contains a higher level of dietary fibre (around 2-3g per 100g as opposed to 0.3g in maida flour). Consuming breads and foods made with whole-wheat flours are recommended instead of maida for maximum nutrition.
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- Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. "The Food Lover's Companion - Fourth edition by Barron's Educational Series (2007)". Retrieved 2014-07-05.
- China Daily (2011-03-01). China bans two food additives in flour. ChinaDaily, 1 March 2011. Retrieved from http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-03/01/content_12100980.htm.
- Author unknown (date unknown). FAQ. Flour Advisory Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.fabflour.co.uk/faq/3/31/is-flour-still-bleached.html[dead link].