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Roti — Indian Flatbreads

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

I have conflicting feelings about homemade roti. Part of me knows that nothing beats a fresh roti hot off the tawa. But on the other hand, it's effort and there are perfectly decent frozen parathas and chapatis available in stores that you can heat up in under 30 seconds. I often hear my parents tell the story of the first time my mom made rotis. She didn't really know what she was doing and definitely did not have a useful recipe. My dad says the rotis were so hard they could double as frisbees.

She got the knack of it in the end and I have great memories of her cooking fresh rotis at home for us. We would eat them straight away, usually sprinkled with sugar, and chased down with strong cups of tea. She's learned to make a double-batch so there is enough left over for dinner.

This recipe makes 12 rotis.







In a bowl, mix together 3 cups (360g) of all-purpose flour, 1.5 teaspoons salt, 3 teaspoons sunflower oil, and 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt. Using your hands, combine everything together with about a half cup (150-175ml) water, though you might need a bit more to get it all properly combined. The dough itself should be easily manageable: not sticky but not dry.

Tip it out of the bowl and knead the dough for a few minutes till it becomes stretchy and smooth. You don't want the dough to be sticking to the kneading surface, so sprinkle more flour as needed. Return the ball to the bowl and cover it with a moist towel. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.

Time to chopro!

(Chopro: I am told this is a Gujarati word. This step will create the all-important puffiness in the rotis. I have a photo step-by-step of how to do this below, but essentially you want to roll out the dough, slather it in oil, fold it up and then re-roll it out before cooking.)

Tip the ball out onto a lightly floured surface and split it into 12 roughly equal balls:

Roll out a ball till it is about 1mm in thickness. Then using a brush or your fingers, slather on some sunflower oil (or ghee, which is clarified butter, if you're feeling posh) in a thin layer on the roti:

Time to fold. Fold down the top half of the circle and fold up the bottom half to achieve a rectangle; they will overlap. Then make a square by folding each side towards the center:

Next, the final roll. Sometimes I try and squish the squares into a little more of a round shape so the rotis are less square but that's completely down to personal preference. My mom's rotis are always square. There will be air bubbles and pockets, and that is exactly what you want. Roll them all out and stack them between some wax paper so they don't stick together.

Don't judge my wonky rotis. I'm not a desi mom.

Heat a non-stick pan on high heat and put a tiny speck of oil in the pan. When the pan is very hot, carefully place the roti down. In about 15-20 seconds, you should start seeing bubbles growing. Press the air out with a spatula and then flip the roti when the underside starts to brown. Cook the other side for another 15-30 seconds. Remember, faster cooking and higher heat means soft rotis. If you let them sit on the pan for longer, they will lose their moisture and get brittle.

Eat immediately, but if you do to wait, keep them warm in a handmade roti warmer made by my Mom! (Buy a custom one here, or a pre-made one from Etsy here).

Tips and Tricks

After making and kneading the dough, let it rest for about 30 minutes to let the gluten relax. It makes the dough easier to roll and the finished rotis are soft and fluffy.

The non-stick pan should be VERY hot. The key to achieving soft rotis is a high heat and very fast cooking time. The longer they are on the heat, the more brittle they become.

To keep the rotis super soft, Mom likes to dab some butter (or oil or ghee) between each roti in the stack. Optional but luxe.

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