If you love Indian food as much as I do, you know what Roti is. A delicious and healthy flatbread and an integral part of Indian cuisine. Various forms of this bread are found around the world. The terms roti and chapati are often used interchangeably. While roti refers to any flat unleavened bread, chapati is a roti made of whole wheat flour and cooked on a tava(flat skillet). Traditionally, chapati/atta flour is used which is a whole wheat flour made from hard wheat grown across the Indian subcontinent. The higher gluten content in hard wheat yields a stronger dough that can be rolled out very thin.
No oil is needed in making roti, although some recipes ask for ghee(clarified butter) or vegetable oil to give more shelf life and pliability to this simple to make and quick bread.
I had the privilege to see how roti is made in a typical Indian kitchen and was even allowed to make a few myself. While it takes a couple of trials to make the perfect roti, even the first attempt would yield a tasty outcome. If you cannot find Chapati flour, use all purpose whole wheat instead. In absence of tava, use a cast iron skillet.
Chapati/Atta or Whole Wheat Flour
Water (room temperature)
All Purpose or Chapati Flour (for dusting)
Ghee or Vegetable Oil (optional)
Measurements are not necessary. Use more or less flour according to how many rotis you would like to make. As a guideline, use 1 cup water for about 2.5 cups of flour.
- Place flour in a large bowl and add salt.
- Gradually add water with one hand while mixing with the other to form a dough.
- Knead until you have s smooth and pliable dough.
- Pre-heat tava or cast iron skillet.
- Make a ball (peach size) of the dough. Dip the ball into flour to thinly coat it. Roll out the ball into a thin disk (5-6″ in diameter) on a board, starting from the middle working toward the edge. Rotate the roti often to prevent it from sticking to the board. Make edges slightly thinner.
- Place roti in the hot skillet over medium heat and start to roll out the next one.
- Turn roti once color changes and bubbles form.
- Finish by placing the cooked roti over gas flame briefly until it puffs up. Quickly turn to the other side. Repeat this step a couple of times until roti is flame baked.
- remove from heat. Store in a cloth lined dish and cover.
- Brush with ghee or oil to keep pliable until served. Serve warm.
While some recipes ask for the dough to rest at room temperature for up to 2-2.5 hours, I am advised by my friend and her cook that this is not necessary.
Instead of rolling out a bunch of rotis at a time, make the next one as you are cooking the previous.
You can brush the finished rotis with vegetable oil or ghee as soon as they are removed from flame. Do this especially if you will not be serving them immediately.
You could add ingredients such as chopped onions, garlic, herbs as well as cooked dal, vegetables or meat to the dough prior to rolling out (recipe to follow).
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