April 02, 2020
Roti aka chappati or phulka is the most common bread in India. Usually a little larger than a taco, rotis are made with 3 to 4 basic ingredients — finely ground whole-wheat flour and water, salt and fat optional. Never to be eaten with a fork or a knife, most Indians use rotis as a delicious vehicle to scoop up a sabzi (cooked vegetable), dal (cooked lentils) or a curry with their hands. It takes a bit of practice to roll a perfect round and you may end up with roti shapes that look like maps of different countries. However, it’s a fun process to learn so don’t let that discourage you. Even the funny shaped ones will taste good. The key is learning to put just enough gentle pressure on the rolling pin to get the roti to the perfect thickness.
Makes 8 rotis
1 1/2 cups roti flour or whole-wheat pastry flour, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
Olive oil or ghee for topping the rotis
In a medium bowl, combine the roti flour, salt, and ½ cup water. Using your fingers, palm, and fist, knead the mixture, adding more water if needed, until the ingredients are evenly mixed and the mixture comes together into a soft ball that’s malleable and pliable—if it appears dry, add a couple more tablespoons water, and if it is too wet and sticky, add a small sprinkling of roti flour. Pour the olive oil into the bowl and knead it into the dough until you have a smooth ball. Cover the dough loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set aside at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Divide the dough into eight equal smooth balls.
Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Dab the ball of dough in a little flour and, using a rolling pin, roll it out into a 7-to 8-inch circle. Immediately place on the hot pan, and while it is cooking, roll out the next roti. As soon as the first side is slightly cooked, flip the roti over and cook until brown bubbles appear on the top of the entire surface of the second side. Flip the roti over again to finish cooking it. It can also be finished directly on the flame using tong for a quicker turnaround. Smear the roti with a bit of ghee or oil and keep wrapped in a warm towel while you cook the rest.
Half-cooked rotis for freezing_ Cook the rotis on both sides until half cooked, with a few light brown bubbles appearing on the surface, and the dough does not appear raw. Cool and freeze them with a small piece of parchment paper in between each for up to 3 months. To bring them back, either flame them directly or finish them on a skillet over medium-high heat.
The key with making a perfect roti is to cook it on medium-high, enough to cook it on both sides but not to dry it out.
Roti can also be made with whole-wheat flour, spelt, einkorn, or pastry flour. The finer the grind the softer the roti. If using commercial whole wheat, use 10% all-purpose flour to prevent the roti from turning out too dry.
To make a softer roti, use milk or plain whole milk yogurt instead of water.
Try adding spices like ground turmeric, ginger, or black pepper.
December 02, 2022