I can’t remember a single meal in my home when there weren’t homemade flatbreads to eat.Except a few daysÂ when khichdi( gooey lentils & rice) formed dinner, softÂ and steam filled rotisÂ smothered with homemade gheeÂ or Â with grainy white butter were brought fresh off the tawa (griddle) to everyone’s plate.You would hardly count how many you to eat,the ladies of the house took rounds to roll, puff and help each other on occasions like Sunday lunch when the whole family was eating together.Always; there were always plenty for everybody.
My badi mummyÂ made the best rotis and parathas that I have ever tasted.She rolled perfect rounds,as if Â a compass or a cutter has been used with the dough, rotis so soft that you could use just thumb and index fingers to break a bite, perfectly charred with black spots from the high flame on both sides. My mother makes the second best to her, paper-thin and larger rounds but still delicate and slightly chewy.I might already be sounding obsessive with these sorts of descriptions but trust me in indian homes, especially in norther parts,roti making is a serious business.A deftÂ techniqueÂ which is taught to daughters whenÂ their Â wedding day approaches.Â It is the bread of life, something you start and end your day with. Giving away a roti to a needy & poorÂ is symbolic of highest level of ‘punye‘ or good deed in Hindu vedas, it is a thingÂ which subsides the hunger of animals, birds or humans equally. The daily bread is revered.
RotiÂ is a everyday unleavened flatbread in our homes,cooked on stove,Â chapatiÂ is similar toÂ rotiÂ just rolled out much thinner,Â phulkaÂ is another nameÂ used in India forÂ rotis, a Hindi word denoting the puffy look of it.Parathas(skillet-fried dough) or Pooris (deep fried dough)Â areÂ also made from the sameÂ dough, layered or unlayered, stuffed with fillings, rolled in all different shapes.You could see myÂ triangleÂ parathaÂ as an example. But, necessarily, the dough remains the same. It is only the handling and shaping that differsÂ Hoping I have not confused you too much!
It would be really surprising but as compared to the naan, which got more popular in the west, in indian homes, you will found rotis and parathas cooked on a daily basis. Naan, fine all purpose flour (maida)Â flatbread is a once in a while thing, something you order when eating at restaurants or like in my home,when mom made really special exotic curries or we had family gatheringsÂ with lots of guests, she would send us with home-made yeastyÂ dough to the street side guy with the tandoor and we came back with stacks of naan for supper.
Let’s get to making some rotis.Shall we? I have invariably used the word ‘atta’ in my post and recipe. Atta is nothing but Hindi for whole wheat flour (loosely used for both dry, wet flour as well as the dough)
Measure the atta (durum wheat flour) and slowly, start adding (warm) water to it.In India, we use a paraat (a utensil made ofÂ brass/copper/stainless less specifically for kneading roti dough). The one you see in pictures, is some 40 year old treasure from my grandmother, still going strong.
At this point,ensure that the attaÂ is not very dry,try to squeeze it between your palms as if making a fist and it should be soft and sticky (and messy!). Start using your knuckles to knead the atta next.
Use your knuckles to flatten it out and then pull it all together towards yourself using your palm & fingers,then knead again with knuckles to flatten out. Knead this way (flatten and bring together) repeatedly for 5-7 minutes. At any point you feel that the dough is tight or drying out, add a light splash of warm water.
Towards the last 1-2 minutes of kneading, use both hands to knead for a very smooth & elastic dough (this will work up the gluten really fast).You could add a bit to oil while kneading to make it smoother.
Time to rest those gluten.Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for (not more than) 15-18 minutes.You couldÂ smear a layer of meltedÂ gheeÂ or oil on top but you really do not need it if the proportion of water is correct and you made sure that the dough didn’t feel or look dry when kneading dough will stay moist during rest time but starts losing moisture after 20 minutes. So if you are not planning to make rotis right away, place the dough into an air tight container with lid and refrigerate.
When ready to make rotis, uncover and divide into equal portions.Â Approximately.If you refrigerated the dough, take it out 10-15 minutes before and let sit on kitchen counter.
Roll each ball in the loose atta and place on a smooth rolling stone or pastry board or kitchen surface. Flatten out lightly from edges using tips of your finger. Using a rolling-pin, start rolling the dough to a flat circle.
It takes practice to get the shape. Even if you don’t get perfect rounds its okay,Â doesnt affect the taste.The trick to roll perfect rotisÂ is that when you are rolling the dough itÂ should also be moving in circular direction by itself. If not, you can move it yourself and flatten from all sides to get a 6-7″ round.
Meanwhile, place a tawa (griddle), I use 12″ cast iron on high to heat up. Keep the box lined with kitchen towel near by to store rotis. When the griddle is hot, flour one of your hands and carefully, lift the roti.
Place the roti on the hotÂ tawa.Â Â Cook it for 30-40 seconds (this time will depend on thicken of your roti too)Â on first side,just so you see the surface changing color orÂ trying slightly. I would say about 25% cooked.
LiftÂ theÂ rotiÂ with tongs and place it on open flame on the first side directly on fire and very lightly press with tongs to helpÂ it puff.Let puff and get charred on first side. About 10-15 seconds.Flip and repeat for the second side. If you storing rotis, you should not let it brown too much else it will dry up. Some people like crispy and chewy rotis, so you can char them to liking.
In case, you have a electrical stove with no flame, see the recipe on how to puff up the rotis.
Typically, you can serve rotis as a side bread with all sorts of things – curries (both dry & wet) to lentils to as a wrap or fried and a chips or any which way you like. One of my personal favorites is warm roti, smothered with ghee and sprinkled with sugar, rolled up. In India, it is normal to consume rotis for all meals,Â two, sometimes three times a day,sometimes in our house we serve roti alongside spicy egg scramble for breakfast or quick lunch too.
One of my close friend once told me a very interesting way to introduce the correct way of eating rotis to the western world.”Use roti as a spoon to eat the curry and laterÂ eat the spoon”, he said.Spot on!
In other news, Sinfully Spicy was featured last week by SBS Australia as a favorite indian food blog in their food section. You could read the featureÂ here.
Ingredients (Makes 15 rotis roughly 6-6.5″ inch )
- 2.5 cups durum wheat atta (fine ground whole wheat flour made from durum wheat)
- 1 +1/4 cup warm water or more/less if needed
- 1/2 tbsp – 1 tbsp any neutral oil (to moisten the dough when it rests, optional)
- Ghee to spread on warm, cooked rotis (optional but recommended)
- about 3/4 cup dry atta, needed when rolling the rotis
- A wide, heavy shallow dish large enough to knead and dough. In India, we use aÂ paraatÂ (a brass or stainless less dish specifically for kneading roti dough). You could use your mixing bowl too but a wide dish will make it a lot easier.
- A flat, clean, smooth rolling stone or surface
- Rolling Pin
- 2-3 kitchen towels (to cover the dough when resting as well as to wrap the cooked rotis)
- 1-2 sheets of paper towel (I line the kitchen towel with paper towel to absorb the moisture when storing rotis else they turn too soggy)
- A wide container (8-10 inch in diameter) with lid to store the wrapped rotis. If you do not have, you could use a couple of dinner plates.
- Tawa or cast iron griddle (I use my 12″) to cook the rotis.
- A pair of tongs to be used when puffing the rotis on direct flame
There are superior varieties of Indian wheatÂ which are stone ground to make atta (fine whole wheat flour). Largely, you could choose between durum wheat orÂ sharbatiÂ wheat.Â Infact, a lot of leading atta brands in India now have a mix of both. It is important to understand that attaÂ is different from the pastry whole wheat flour available in baking aisles. It is a much fine ground which make the rotis soft and less chewy.You will need to visit indian/pakistani grocery stores to get it.There are multigrain and high fibre atta varieties also available and all are suitable for making rotis. A 10lb pack will usually cost you $7-$8 and it has a really good shelf life of 3-4 months.
In a wide, shallow dish measure andÂ placeÂ the atta. With one handÂ slowly start adding (warm) water and mixing in circular motion with the fingers of other hand. Incorporate water a little at a timeÂ and start to kneading gently.
As the attaÂ absorbs water,it will start clumping up into a ball.Continue to add warm water till all the dry flour becomes wet, your hands will be mighty messy but the flour willÂ come together.Remember not to add too much water at a time.
Once a ball is formed,Â ensure that itÂ is not very dry by trying to squeeze the dough ball between your palms as if making a fist and it should feel soft and sticky. Start using your knuckles to knead theÂ doughÂ next.
Use your knuckles to flatten the doughÂ out and then pull it all together towards yourself, using your palm & fingers, then knead again with knuckles to flatten out. Knead this way (flatten and bring together) repeatedly forÂ 7-8Â minutes. At any point you feel that the dough is tight or drying out, add a light splash of warm water.The dough should not feel or look dry at any point.
Towards the last 1-2 minutes of kneading, use both hands to knead for a very smooth & elastic dough (this will work up the gluten really fast). Once the dough looks and feels really really smooth, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for (not more than) 20-25Â minutes.You could smear a layer of meltedÂ gheeÂ or oil on top but you really willÂ not need it if the proportion of water is correct and you made sure that the dough didn’t feel or look dry when kneading. The dough will stay moist during rest time but starts losing moisture after 30 minutes. So if you are not planning to make rotis right away, place the dough into an air tight container with lid and refrigerate.
When ready to makeÂ rotis, uncover and divide into equal portions.Â Approximately.(Note: If you refrigerated the dough, take it out 10-15 minutes before and let sit on kitchen counter)
Take each dough portion betweenÂ palms of your both hands and roll to make as smooth balls as possible. Flatten the balls. GetÂ some looseÂ attaÂ on to the dish. Its time to makeÂ rotis!
Roll and cover each ball in the looseÂ attaÂ and place on a smooth rolling stone or pastry board or kitchen surface. Flatten out lightly on edges using tips of your finger. Using a rolling-pin, start rolling the dough to a flat circle.Dust the board or theÂ rotiÂ as and when required when rolling. Initially, you will need to dust moreÂ but it will get easier as you continue.
It takes practice to get the perfect circle shape. Even if you don’t get perfect rounds its okay, it doesn’t affect the taste.Â The trick to roll perfectÂ rotisÂ is that when after 1-2 minutes into rolling the dough itÂ should also be moving in circular direction by itself. If its your first time, this might not happen but remember practice will make you better and better each time. If not, you can move the rotiÂ yourself to roll and evenly flatten from all sides to get a 6-7″ round.
Another tip to get thin edges ofÂ rotisÂ is that towards the last 15-20 seconds of rolling, your rolling-pin should be half on the board and half of theÂ roti as you roll.
Meanwhile, place aÂ tawaÂ (griddle), I use 12″ cast iron on to heat up on high. Keep the box lined with kitchen towel near by to storeÂ rotis. When the griddle is hot, flour one of your hands and carefully, lift theÂ roti.
Place theÂ rolled rotiÂ on the hotÂ tawa.Â Â Cook it for 30-40 seconds (this time will depend on thicken of your roti too)Â on first side,just so you see the surface changing color orÂ trying slightly. I would say about 25% cooked.
Flip using kitchen tongs and let cook on the griddle on the second side for another 30-40 seconds. You might or might not get charred dots but do not cook on griddle for too long else theÂ rotisÂ will dry out.When you cook on the second side, you will see that little puffs coming up on the surface.
LiftÂ theÂ rotiÂ with tongs and place it on open flame on the first side directly on fire and very lightly press with tongs to helpÂ it puff.Let puff and get charred on first side. About 10-15 seconds.
Flip and repeat for the second side. If you storingÂ rotis, you should not let it brown too much else it will dry up. Some people like crispy and chewyÂ rotis, so you can char a little longer to liking.
In case you do not have electrical stove, you can puff up the rotis on the griddle itself. Once the second side is cooked, reduce the heat to medium and gently start pressing the roti with a soft kitchen towel on all side. It will puff up.
Smear ghee on the hot rotis and server right away or store then wrapped in a kitchen towel. I line the kitchen towel with a small piece of paper towel, this helps in preventing them from getting soggy.
In case you want to freeze the rotis (yes it can be done), make all the rotis and let them cool down to room temperature wrapped inside the towel. Then stack them on top of each other with a large piece of wax or parchment paper in between.
When wanting to use the frozen rotis, thaw them in the fridge and warm up on high for 8-10 seconds in the microwave.
- Roll the dough very well and as evenly thin as possible.This helps in puffing up the rotis.
- Store the leftover dough in the refrigerator for not more than 1-2 days in an air tight container.
- If you are wanting to serve rotis later in the day, you can make ahead them. In this case, add 2 tbsp of melted ghee while making the dough.They will remain soft.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!