Maida flour is a finely-milled wheat flour used to make a wide variety of Indian breads such as parathas and naan. Maida is widely used not only in Indian cuisine but also in Central Asian and cuisine. Though sometimes referred to as “all-purpose flour” by Indian chefs, it more closely resembles cake flour or even pure starch. After the flour is ground in a flour mill it is passed through a fine mesh (600 mesh per square inch) to obtain Maida. Maida (flour) is extracted from wheat after the outer layer is removed. Atta is whole wheat flour.
The outer brownish layer is removed from the wheat and the inner white portion is used to make maida flour. That is the reason whole wheat flour (includes the brown outer layer) is considered healthier than maida flour as it contains fiber which maida flour is missing. Maida is a refined product of wheat, meaning it is obtained after processing the wheat, which makes it less nutritious.
In India, Maida flour is used to make pastries and other bakery items such as bread, biscuits and toast.