Mar 29

The Accidental Roti



How to make Roti



Right … so it was about 10 p.m and I was getting that ‘ol familiar feeling: itchy palms. I wanted to make something and I had settled on making Shanghai Scallion Pancakes. I felt they would hit the spot coz I really wanted a crispy doughy snack. My parents are in Shanghai at the moment visiting my sister and her new baby. Well, he’s not exactly new, he’s six months old. But, he is their first grandchild so in their eyes he’s perfect in every way. Perhaps them being there had made me subconsciously think of scallion pancakes. When I was in Shanghai a few years back I walked round the block to buy these DELICIOUS nibblies … and I ate all of them. The next day I went back to the guys round the corner, selling their wares on the pavement. I wanted to taste them again so I trotted off to the kitchen and got to work.     After about five minutes of kneading I got bored and gave up. I jumped a couple steps and just went straight to rolling the dough out. Slapped the dough onto the hot pan and voila! …. I inadvertently made roti.



Growning up during my younger years, my best friend, who happens to be a Punjabi, tried to teach me the technique of making flat breads at her home. Her mother made these breads everyday and whenever I was round at her place I would watch her mom prep these with such ease. I tried doing them once but I think it was a general failure. Years later when I had moved out of home and living on my own I attempted roti again, much to the amusement of my Indian friends at the time. Everything turned to mush and I had flour sticking to my entire hand … it was not pleasant. Since then I have not made another attempt until this evening when it kinda just happened, as if the Gods of flat-breads had decided it was time to impart this knowledge upon me.




How to make roti  (Indian flat breads)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 125 – 150 mls warm water
  • onion powder (*optional)
  • garlic powder (*optional)
  • cumin seeds (*optional)







That first time I made the breads they were a bit dry and far too crispy. So this afternoon I added a teaspoon of dry active yeast and this did wonders. To make the dough all you need to do is combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Then add half the water and mix this in with the flour. Add the other half of the water and knead the flour into a ball. It may be sticky at first but soon the dough will start pulling away from the bowl and form a nice lump that you can then remove and knead on the benchtop. After 5 mins place the dough back in the bowl. If you don’t have all-purpose flour on hand you can also use self-raising flour, as I have. Did not notice any difference to the texture of the breads.










Cover the bowl and place everything in a draft-free place to rest. The longer the dough rests the better, but at the very least it must rest for an hour. When you are ready to roll them out the dough will be nice and soft and pliable. Portion out the dough and roll them into balls. Keep these balls of dough covered under a damp towel or in a covered container.







Dust the benchtop with flour. Flatten a dough ball with the palm of your hand and roll it out thin with a rolling pin. It will fluff up again once it hits the hot pan. Make them too thick and they won’t cook properly, may even still be slightly undercooked in the middle.






Heat up a cast iron pan or hot plate on medium. No oil is needed to cook these breads, the dry heat is enough to cook them through. Slap a rolled out piece of dough onto the hot pan and wait for 5-mins for it to cook. Flip and cook the other side. The bread will puff up as hot air fills the inside. If you get puffage, you’re doing it right. Congratulations.


Remove from the pan and smear some butter over the top. Sprinkle for dried garlic powder and fresh coriander for added flavour. If you don’t want the added calories then omit the butter entirely. The bread will still taste awesome. Serve immediately with your favourite curry.









The added yeast in the dough definitely made a world of difference and helped soften the dough significantly. I now know not to panic if the dough seems a bit stiff in the beginning. Just allow it to rest in the bowl for a couple of hours and hey presto! it is suddenly all soft and manageable. These tasted sooooooo good that R. declared he would be happy to just eat them plain, as is. But on the side he gently coaxed me to cook a lamb/ mutton curry to go with them. I relented and it was all worth it. That evening we devoured a total of eight breads between us (he wanted more but there wasn’t any left) and a nice bowl of fork tender lamb curry. He declared it was better than Indian takeaway. I think I shall accept that compliment very proudly.



~ Enjoy!~


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