A Simple Roti Recipe
There are many different types of flatbread in Indian cuisine. Those known as ‘Chapati’ and ‘Paratha’ are probably the most widely recognized by westerners, but both of these, along with a host of others, can be collectively grouped under the umbrella term ‘Roti’.
Roti can be exceeding simple, consisting of nothing more than rolled out rounds of a flour and water dough, or they may incorporate oil, salt, or other seasonings, and require more complex rolling and folding techniques. Today’s Simple Roti Recipe does use salt, oil and some additional optional seasoning, but the actual method for preparing the bread is exceedingly easy.
The Basic Method for making Roti
The seasonings (including the salt, are entirely optional) and you can omit, or replace any or all of them with other herbs or spices. Celery Seed, although not especially traditional, is a very nice addition, as is toasted cumin seed, or chive. Essentially, you can experiment and improvise as you see fit.
I am using vegetable oi in this recipe, as a little fat produce a softer, silkier dough. It is not a requirement, though, and you can omit fat entirely, or replace it with butter, ghee, or some other oil. I have actually made Roti using pork fat before… this is certainly an unorthodox ingredient in this context but it does a lovely job.
The dough is made by incorporating hot water a little at a time. The recipe here calls for one half cup of water for 1 cup of flour, but that is just a rough guideline. Usually, a little bit less water is required.
If you are using a food processor (which makes the job SO much easier), keep the blades spinning and add a couple of tablespoons of water at a time. The flour blend with change texture as more water is added but then, quite suddenly, it will form a coherent ball, as seen above. When this happens, stop adding water immediately and remove the dough.
The dough, once blended, must be kneaded well to make it pliable and workable. If you have used a little bit too much water when making the dough, you will be able to tell from the sticky texture and can work in a little more flour to correct this. Keep kneading, adding flour to the work surface as necessary, and once you have a nice elastic texture, set the dough ball aside under cover to rest.
When you are ready to continue, divide the ball into 6 equal portions and then roll them out into thin rounds, using extra flour to keep them from sticking to your rolling surface. I usually heat my griddle when I start this and then cook each roti whilst I am rolling out the next. If you roll yours all out in advance then it is a good idea to keep them covered with a damp cloth until you are ready to cook. After rolling, make sure you shake off all the excess flour.
Cook each roti on a griddle over medium to medium-high heat, flipping after thirty seconds or so when the top starts to bubble in places.
Once you flip them, the roti may ‘balloon’ as the air in the dough expands. This doesn’t always happen but is a good sign that you will have nice, light roti to enjoy. Just press down with a spatula after a few seconds.
As you cook each flatbread, keep them covered and, if you are not going to serve them immediately you can wrap them tightly in foil and re-heat them in a warm oven later, or else wrap them in plastic and give them a quick ‘zap’ in the microwave’ In either case, you may want to brush them with a little melted butter first.
Nice warm roti can be eaten plain with a little butter, or perhaps some pickle, or else served alongside a dal, or curry of some type.
The batch I made for this post got eaten with a minced meat curry and some side dishes… I especially like spooning some of the meat mixture, as well as some chopped onion and tomato and hot pickle into each roti and eating it out of hand as a sort of wrap. Enjoy!
Your Recipe Card:
A Simple Roti Recipe
- 1 cup all-purpose Flour plus extra for kneading and rolling
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 2 tsp. Vegetable Oil or Ghee
- ½ cup hot water or as needed
- 1 tsp. Ajwain seed optional
- 1 tbsp. dried Fenugreek leaf optional
- Put the flour, salt, oil, and seasoning into the bowl of your food processor pulse until a granular, mealy texture is obtained.
- Continue blending and add hot water a few tablespoons at a time until the dough begins to come together. As soon as it forms a solid ball, stop adding water and remove the dough.
- Knead well, adding extra flour if necessary, and allow the dough ball to rest, covered, for at least thirty minutes.
- When ready to cook, divide the dough into six portions and form these into balls.
- Heat your griddle of a moderately high flame and roll the dough balls out into thin rounds.
- Cook each round on the griddle, flipping over once the top surface starts to bubble, and then pressing down lightly with a spatula if the Roti ‘balloons’ excessively.
- Continue to cook, allowing the surface to brown here and there, then remove the Roti to a dish and keep covered.
- Serve immediately, or else wrap the stack of completed Roti in foil for later, lightly brushing the surface of each with a little butter, or ghee, if desired.