Kulcha is made from Maida flour, water, a pinch of salt and a leavening agent (yeast or old kulcha dough) are mixed together by hand to make a very tight dough. This dough is covered with a wet cloth and left to stand for an hour or so in a warm place. The result is a slight leavening of the flour but not much. The flour is pummelled again by hand and then rolled out using a rolling pin into a flat, round shape. It is baked in an earthen clay oven ("tandoor") until done. When baked, it is often brushed with butter or ghee, although this is not necessary. It is then eaten with any Indian curry. In particular, a spicy chickpea curry known as chole is the dish of choice for being eaten with kulcha.
Instead of using water to knead the dough, milk or yogurt can be used; this results in the dough becoming softer and more rubbery. This type of kulcha is known as Doodhia kulcha (milk kulcha). Leavening is often greater if yogurt is used.
Traditionally, kulchas are not stuffed but made plain and eaten with a curry which can be either vegetarian or meat-based. However, in recent years, kulchas stuffed with fillings are appearing in restaurant and shops, although they are never made at home. A range of stuffings, including paneer (cottage cheese), potatoes, onion and other vegetables are used.
Amritsar, a city in Punjab, is famous for its Amritsari kulchas or Amritsari naan where many of these varieties are available. In Hyderabad, India, kulcha is also referred to as naan or sheermaal.
In Pakistan, kulcha breads are largely eaten in Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and certain parts of the Hazara and northern Punjab regions, where they are a popular breakfast item.