My sisters, who have forgotten more about cooking and food than I will ever know, always pointed out that my roti would never be “real” roti unless they swelled up proudly. So the picture at left here is one I took to prove to them that (now and then ) I can get it right.
Of course you have to be careful … the steam inside that roti is extremely hot, so watch you don’t burn your fingers as you gently coax it out to flatten your roti.
Roti is a type of unleavened bread, better known in Britain as chapati. But the word can also be used as a term for breads generally, or even just for food (as in the English use of “Let us break bread”)
What you need: Plain flour and hot water – and, if you want, some olive oil, some ghee, and salt).
You’ll need a griddle or a large heavy flat frying pan to cook the roti on, and a fish slice or other flat implement to turn the roti over.
To make eight rotis
250 grams flour to make a dough
50 grams plain flour set aside to use for dusting and while kneading
240mls hot water
½ teaspoon of salt (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
Place the 250 grams plain flour in a large bowl. Add the salt. Add about 200mls of the hot water and mix well (with a fork, or your hands if you can stand the heat). Use more of the water and keep mixing till you have a soft dough that’s not sticky to the touch. Add small amounts of the dusting flour to the mixture to get your final result.
If you’re using the olive oil, make a depression in the dough, pour in the oil and knead the dough again for a few minutes. You should now have a soft, pliable dough.
Divide the dough into eight or nine portions. Dust each one with some flour and set to one side. If you’re working with the dough while it’s still warm, you might find it’ll “sweat” and so stick to a cold surface…the dusting flour helps rescue them from this fate.
Use a rolling pin to roll out each of the portions into discs about 20cm wide. They’ll turn out to be about 2-3mm thick. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a straight wine bottle or other cylinder. And the best rolling pins are the light, wooden ones – the marble ones are a bit too heavy.
Some dusting flour on your board (or other rolling surface) will stop the dough from sticking and will make it easier to roll out. The aim is to get nice round rotis, but that requires some practice. Square ones might be easier till you’ve got some experience.
Heat your griddle while you’re rolling out the dough. It’s ready to cook on when a little sprinkling of plain flour on it starts smoking. Place your first disc on this hot griddle. After 5-10 seconds turn it over on the griddle – the top side should now have little brownish or black rings. After a few seconds turn it over again. After a few more turnovers, the roti should be cooked. (If you’re new to cooking roti, the only way you’ll be sure it’s cooked is if you try it.)
So when do you use the ghee? Well the roti above is sometimes called sukhi (or sookhi) roti, meaning dry roti … the “dry” referring to the fact that no ghee or butter is used to help in the cooking process. Roti made using ghee tastes richer, not surprisingly. Ghee congeals quickly and also liquefies quite quickly. If you have some ghee, melt some in a bowl. As you cook the roti, use a pastry brush to brush some ghee onto the “hotter” side of the roti (ie, after the first turnover).
There’s a chicken curry recipe here to make and eat with this roti