• Payal Maharaj

Mum's Classic Rotis

Updated: Apr 21


It occurred to me that I have been suggesting in my posts, to eat the curries with freshly made rotis. It then occurred to me that I have not posted a basic roti recipe. I decided to write a quick post about how to make rotis. Mum's rotis are a bit famous. Almost everyone who tastes them comments on their softness and also how small and thin she makes them. That is how she always makes them. I can make rotis myself too but they don’t taste like my mum's. Even my sister and my brother-in-law have been trying to replicate her rotis. So today seemed like a good day to finally record everything from start to finish. Not that we don’t know all the steps from start to finish but it must some secret hand movement she does that makes her rotis so soft. On a side note, I feel that there are roti families and then there are rice families. For example, in our family, we have to have roti with every meal. Rice is optional. For other families, rice is important every day. Interesting isn't it?

So to begin, you need AP flour. And you need water that has been boiled. We have a kettle that does this. After water is boiled, it must be added right away to the flour and dough must be kneaded on the lowest setting until it just comes together. As soon as it begins to look smooth, the mixer can be turned off. Then you can knead the dough by hand for a couple more minutes until it looks very smooth. After this, the dough can divided in two. Each half can be rolled out like a log.

Then pieces the size of your palm can be broken off. These pieces should be rolled into a ball shape, flattened and then rolled out into a circle that is relatively evenly thin. Should not be see through but thin. Use dry flour as needed if roti dough sticks to surface.


We use something called a "belna" and "chowki" to roll out rotis. Which is a rolling pin and special board for rolling rotis. Every Indian home has a set I believe. It is mandatory. Mum still uses her set from when she got married! Eons ago! Eventually you have a collection of sets but everyone has their favorite set. During big events, ladies will take their belna and chowki to the hosting home and help roll out hundreds of rotis or pooris for the event. It becomes a roti rolling party! Everyone comes to help and it is always great fun!

Anyways, you can roll out a couple to get a head start then start the griddle. We cook rotis on medium flame. Place roti on griddle. Once you see small bubbles after about one minute, flip the roti with a spatula. I was taught to flip with my bare hands but I would not recommend this.








Let roti cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Flip again.













By this time, roti will start to form pockets of air inside. Carefully, with a spatula press on those air pockets to allow the whole roti to fill with air.

An ideal roti will completely puff up. Gently rotate the puffed up roti with a spatula to ensure even cooking and then remove from heat and place in a container lined with paper towels.

At this point a layer of ghee can be applied with a pastry brush. We don’t do this for everyday cooking but when guests come over, mum certainly uses ghee. Repeat this process until all the rotis are rolled out and cooked. Rotis can be eaten hot or can be stored at room temperature until the next day. Fresh and hot is obvs better.

Another method of cooking is to apply ghee to both sides of the roti while cooking them. In this scenario, the roti does not puff up too much but is extra soft and delicious due to the ghee. So there you have it! Mum's basic roti recipe that comes together in less than 30 minutes or so….well I suppose depends on fast you can roll the rotis out! Enjoy!

RECIPE:

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

-3 cups AP flour

-1.5 cups boiled water

-1/2 tsp olive oil

-Ghee (optional)

Method:

  1. Boil the water. Has to be boiling.

  2. Add boiled water carefully and immediately to the flour. Add olive oil.

  3. Turn on mixer. Mix on low speed until dough is just combined and begins to look smooth.

  4. Turn off mixer. Pull out dough on lightly floured surface. Knead for couple more minutes by hand to smooth out dough.

  5. Divide dough into two. Roll out each piece into a log. Pinch of pieces the size of your palm. Roll into a smooth ball and flatten out. The number of rotis you can make out of this dough depends on how many dough balls you can make.

  6. Gently roll out each dough ball into a thin circle.

  7. Place griddle on medium flame.

  8. Add roti. Once small bubble appear, flip roti. After 1-2 minutes, flip roti again.

  9. Air pockets should have formed by now. Gently press on air pockets with a spatula to allow whole roti to puff up. It is like moving the air to different parts of the roti. Roti should be completely puffed by now. Gently rotate roti with a spatula to ensure even cooking.

  10. Remove from heat and place in a paper towel lined container.

  11. Rotis can be enjoyed hot as is or with any number or curries. They can also be stored at room temperature until the next day. Enjoy!

Notes:

-You can save the dough balls for the next day. Just dust with flour and place in cling wrap. The dough will be sticky the next day but still workable.

-This recipe makes over 10 rotis. It just depends on how big your dough balls are and how thick you make the rotis.

-Rotis can be stored at room temperature until the next day. You can reheat them on the griddle or eat them as is with some curry. I used to take them for lunch when I was in high school. Mum would wrap curry of the day in a roti and that used to be still good to eat until lunch. No microwave required.

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