Monday, December 24, 2012

How to make Roti :: Meatless Masala Monday


Roti, or puffed Indian bread, is made with whole wheat flour and is served with almost every meal in a Gujarati household. The roti is cooked on a cast iron skillet and then placed on a wire rack over the flame or heating source and puffed.  In other regions roti is referred to as phulka or chapaati.

Once you are comfortable with the basic approach, you can make thinner or thicker variations, stuffed versions, masala spiced versions. Given the complicated steps, I will provided step by step instructions. The complete recipe is at the end of the post.  But first, I want to share a story.

As a child, I would often help my mom make roti for dinner. It was obvious which ones were mine:  my mom's roti was a perfect circle, while my roti was more of an artistic interpretation of a circle (honestly, it looked closer to the map of India).  My dear father always claimed that he couldn't tell the difference between my oddly shaped roti and my mom's perfectly shaped ones, but deep down inside I knew mine paled in comparison.

I feel silly saying this because everyone thinks their mom is a super hero and the best cook in the world, but so much of my inspiration and love for food comes from my mother. People often ask me at which age I got into cooking and who did I learn to cook from first.  I respond with a smile and say, "My mother, of course."

Even as a small child, well before I could see over the kitchen counter, I was mom's sous chef in the kitchen. I would pull a chair next to stove and stand on it so that I could stir a pot of ghee simmering on the stove; other times I sat on the counter itself and helped roll dough for my favorite snack, pani puri.  When I went to college, my mother made sure I had my very own masala dubba, a handy container with individual holders for the essential spices in Indian cooking.  As I become more serious and passionate about cooking, my mom answered my endless questions about recipes over the phone, and although it was nearly impossible for her to give me exact measurements of just how much ground coriander to add to a sabzi, she tried her hardest to teach me the intricacies of Indian cooking. 

Now as I grow older, I see myself becoming more and more like my mother (even my father agrees), which I find funny because I always identified more with my father. If I can get halfway there, it will be quite an achievement. This post is dedicated to my mother.

Now for the long awaited roti recipe:  In a large rimmed plate or a large bowl, add 1 cup whole wheat flour in a mound, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, and drizzle 2 tsp oil on top.



Add up to 1/2 cup of water a little at a time and knead until smooth.  Set the dough aside, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.


Coat your hands with oil and knead the dough a couple times, then divide the dough into 8 parts.  With your hands, roll each part into smooth balls.

Take one ball and flatten with the palm of your hand.  Dust with all purpose flour and place on a clean rolling surface. Roll into a 6"circle, giving equal weight throughout.  Do not stretch the dough.  As you roll out the dough, sprinkle additional flour on the dough to keep it from getting sticky.  

I like to roll out all of the dough and then cook them as I find it a bit overwhelming to roll then cook each one.

 




Heat a cast iron skillet, griddle, or flat pan over medium high heat.  Placed rolled uncooked dough onto the pan, cooking until air pockets form on one side. Flip and cook other side until air pockets form.  Then move skillet away and place a wire rack over the heat source. Increase heat to high. Place roti directly on wire rack and let it puff up into a balloon. If it doesn't puff up immediately, press down on one half with a spatula and release once the other side puffs up.  Use this same technique in other parts of the roti to make it mostly puff up. Once it puffs, very quickly remove it from the heat.


Set on a plate and brush lightly with ghee if desired. Repeat with next roti. Continue to stack rotis on top of each other.


This image below is a special kind of roti called bepati (2 pieces). When rolling out the dough into a circle, simple fold over onto itself and roll out again. Continue with the same steps as above. Once it puffs into a balloon, you will be able to separate the layers into two. It's a fun way to get two roti in one!



Roti
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup water
all purpose flour for dusting

In a large bowl or wide lipped plate, combine the flour and salt. Drizzle with oil. Add water a little at a time and knead until smooth.  Set the dough aside, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Coat your hands with oil and knead the dough a couple times, then divide the dough into 8 parts.  With your hands, roll each part into smooth balls.  Flatten a ball with the palm of your hand.  Dust with all purpose flour and roll out into a 6" circle. As you roll out the dough, sprinkle additional flour on the dough to keep it from getting sticky.

I like to roll out all of the dough and then cook them as I find it a bit overwhelming to roll then cook each one. 

Heat a cast iron skillet, griddle, or flat pan over medium high heat.  Placed rolled uncooked dough onto the pan, cooking until air pockets form on one side. Flip and cook other side until air pockets form.  Then move skillet away and place a wire rack over the heat source. Increase heat to high. Place roti directly on wire rack and let it puff up into a balloon. If it doesn't puff up immediately, press down on one half with a spatula and release once the other side puffs up.  Use this same technique in other parts of the roti to make it mostly puff up. Once it puffs, very quickly remove it from the heat.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Good step by step instructions on how to make roti. Keep up with Meatless Masala Mondays, we love these posts!

    ReplyDelete

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