I was asked off and on to post the recipe of this flatbread which is the means of sustenance of the Indian subcontinent!Its the basic diet starting from North India,the Capital of Delhi,Haryana,Punjab,Jammu and Kashmir,West Bengal,the North East States,Madhya Pradesh,Chattisgarh,Maharashtra,Uttarakhand and Uttaranchal.
After Maharashtra,starting Goa,Andhra,Telangana,Kerala,Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,the staple is rice with again Roti as the secondary option.Initially the Southern States relied heavily on rice but the current impetus on eating fibre,other grains and wheat has changed people to a great degree.The stress is on eating foods with varied tastes and benefits as a single monotonous diet might lead to boredom,various body deficiencies and nutritional disorders.
Of late there is a mad scramble for innovative recipes and new technology for faster cooking!The traditional Roti making has slowly become a “nayy” with Roti Makers and gadgets saying “yayy”!But before anyone moves on to these easy to use and easily accessible gadgets,they need to learn the basic method and preparation steps.A lady who is due to be married tells me, “Its not so easy as it looks!It will take me a lifetime to achieve perfect Rotis!”Really?Not at all.But yes it does need practice and persistence or achievement.I am posting THE Roti recipe which can be adjusted to your liking.However you need to follow these baby steps before you start making adjustments to the basic recipe!
How the basic Roti looks like…
I will divide this post into 7 phases :
- The Ingredients and how they are used including the kind of flours available internationally!
- The basic Method of making the Roti – kneading with and without any fat and how to make them puff up!
- The modifications which can be made and the differentiation between various flatbreads which look the same but with minute variations!
- Tips and tricks for perfect Rotis!
- How to store Rotis for long time use.
- Using Ghee as a wonder ingredient!
- The gadgets and various ways to make perfect Rotis.
So let us start with a prayer to Goddess Annapurneshwari as she is the provider of food in every home!
INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING THE INDIAN FLATBREAD OR ROTI
One big difference in the Indian and Western breads is that where most of the Western Breads require fermenting,proofing,rising and extensive kneading and have yeast as an ingredient,the Roti does not require such a long process!The dough needs to be rested for a total time of 30 minutes to let the starch swell up in the wheat flour and can be used instantly!So we require :
- WHEAT FLOUR (Main Ingredient) – This is called “Atta” in India and is very easily available in international markets.Countries like USA and Canada stock what is known as Whole Wheat Flour and Multigrain flour but the type and quality of Wheat is different.They have what is known as Durum Wheat which is used for making Pasta and wholemeal baked goods.They can be used for Rotis but unlike Atta which gives you soft and melt in the mouth Rotis,this will give you a little hard and flaky flatbreads though delicious, will not have the typical Indian taste.Atta is available in all Indian,Pakistani,Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi stores worldwide!
- WATER (Main Ingredient) – To knead the dough we need water to moisten the flour.As per region the quality and nature of water differs and there might be a slight variation in the taste and quality of the Rotis.However this is fine as long as the Rotis stay soft.
- TAVA (Griddle – Main Ingredient) – This is the Indian Griddle which is completely plain without any ridges.Now Tavas come in non stick cookware range and this does not let the Roti stick.Some time back they used to come in Cast Iron or aluminium and high heat caused burnt Rotis!
- ROLLING PIN (Belan – Main Ingredient) – To roll out the Rotis!
- A PAIR OF TONGS (Chimta – Main Ingredient) – To put the rolled out Roti directly on the flame and flip it once its puffed!
- SALT (Optional Ingredient) – Many people add a pinch of salt to the flour.This is purely optional as the Rotis are had with cooked spiced vegetables called “Subzi”.This has salt added so its recommended not to add salt to the dough.However having too much salt in the diet affects our health adversely!
- FAT (Optional Ingredient) – Fat or grease in the form of refined cooking oils,ghee or vanaspati is added to the dough in many households for Rotis.However from an Ayurvedic point of view,Cow Ghee is the best form of additive to any dough and will enhance nutrition.But we need to make a choice between adding ghee to the dough and spreading ghee on the Roti once made.Too much of anything is bad!Personally I love spreading my Roti with a tsp of warm Cow Ghee before eating it!
- MILK (Optional Ingredient) – Milk is used to give a richer taste and ensure nicely puffed up Rotis!However this is purely optional as many people might not prefer it or may be Lactose Intolerant.
- OTHER INGREDIENTS – There are a lot of ingredients which people add to the basic recipe.They might mix in other flours with Atta to make a more fibre rich Roti,add spice powders or just plain Turmeric Powder,add herbs like Coriander or spices like Cumin (Jeera) or Carom Seeds (Ajwain).As I said once you master the basic recipe you can make your own adjustments to it and make your Rotis exceptional in taste!
THE METHOD OF MAKING ROTI
There are 4 stages in making the basic Indian flatbread :
- Mixing the flour – Takes 2 -3 minutes
- Kneading – Takes 10 minutes
- Resting the dough – Takes minimum 15 and maximum 30 minutes
- Making Roti – Takes 15 – 30 minutes depending on the amount of Roti to be made
So in approximately 1 hour you can make delicious,soft and puffed up Rotis.
Here is my method :
2 cups Atta
1 1/4 cups water
2 tbsp milk
Take the Atta in a bowl and make a well in the centre.Mix the milk and water and pour into the well.Start mixing gradually and knead into a semi soft dough which should neither be hard nor very soft and sticky.It depends on the quality of flour and water.If too moist add 2 – 3 tbsp of flour and if dry,add 2 – 3 tbsp water.Knead for 5 – 7 minutes or better still 10 minutes till the gluten develops and the dough neither sticks to your hand or the bowl.
Cover the bowl and rest the dough for minimum 15 and maximum 30 minutes.
Now make Rotis as per the following illustration :
Keep a small container or a plate of Atta to coat the Rotis while rolling for a non – sticky finish!Put the tava (griddle) on medium heat while you roll out the Rotis!
Flour your hands and divide the dough into lemon sized balls.Flatten them and keep them on a plate.
Take a Roti portion and coat with the flour.
Then start rolling them out into flatbreads with the rolling pin.
Keep rolling and dipping them in the flour till you have a Roti to the required thickness.Do not make them too thin otherwise they will tear.Do not make them too thick as they will be chewy and not puff up.This requires practice and patience and will be gradually attained!
Now very carefully place them on the now heated Tava and let one side cook.The Roti will develop small bubbles and if you raise the side slightly you will see some brown spots.This is the indication to turn it around and cook the other side as well.Cook each side for 20 – 25 seconds then keep the Tava aside so that you face the direct flame.Increase the flame to the highest and put the Roti directly ON the flame.If made perfectly,it will puff up like a balloon.
Then flip it over and cook the other side.The Roti will develop brownish – black spots which are characteristic of it.
Take it off and put it on a separate plate.Place the Tava back on heat and repeat with the other rounds of dough.Once the Rotis are done,spread each of them with a tsp of melted Cow Ghee.This is purely optional.
Rotis spread with Cow Ghee…
Storing in a lovely brass Chappati Dabba…
Have immediately or keep them in a casserole over a kitchen towel till ready to be eaten!
Now you can add any kind of fat to this flour or any extra added seasoning but the secret lies in the milk.Even if you do not add fat,adding milk will cause a sure shot puff up the roti!
How to make a Roti puff up on non flame gas stoves!
In certain places we do not have an open flame gas stove.We have a coil or the flat induction cooktops and are not able to cook the Rotis as we do on the direct flame.People complain of not being able to have puffed up Rotis.There is a trick here – Heat the Tava on medium heat and place the rolled out Roti on top.Take a clean kitchen towel and start pressing the edges of the Roti while applying medium pressure.In sometime the Roti will puff up and then continue to the other side.This process is not as fast as the direct flame Rotis but they have approximately the same taste and texture!
Variations and differences between flatbreads!
As discussed above we can make any additions to the dough of the basic Indian Roti.However there are minor differences in the terminologies of the Indian flatbreads (given by the Chef Maestro J Inder Singh Kalra in his epic book Parshad – Cooking with the Masters) :
ROTI/PHULKA – Roughly 4 inches in diameter and puffed up over an open flame!
CHAPPATI – Approximately 8 inches in diameter and cooked over a Tava by pressing its edges (discussed above)!
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR PERFECT ROTIS :
- Use quality Atta.Brands like Pillsbury,Ashirwad,Golden Harvest and Nature Fresh are the best!
- Try and use filtered water as water with minerals tends to give a comparatively hard dough which results in hard Rotis!
- Try not to use salt in rotis as salt affects the softness.
- Use 2 tbsp milk for every 2 cups of Atta.
- While rolling out,ensure that you neither roll too thick or too thin.This will come with practice.
- Leave the dough to “rest and set” for at least 15 minutes after kneading.
HOW TO STORE ROTIS
It is imperative to store Rotis properly to preserve their freshness and taste.The following are some tips for the same :
- Store the Rotis in a casserole over a clean kitchen towel.Lay the towel on the base of the casserole and pile up the Rotis on it starting from the last one made.Fold the cloth over the top and cover with the lid.
- You can even freeze the Rotis.Make them and let them come to room temperature.Enclose each Roti between sheets of butter/parchment paper and put them in a freezer safe plastic box a little bigger than the Rotis.While using them,take out and let them thaw for an hour and put them on a non stick hot Tava on medium heat.They will retain their freshness and become as tasty as newly made!
- If you have stale Rotis and want to freshen them up,brush each side with a silicon brush dipped in water and place them on a hot Tava on medium heat.You can put them in an Oven on warm mode for 2 – 3 minutes or even microwave them for a minute.Hey presto and fresh Rotis!
- ALWAYS store the dough in airtight and preferably glass containers.You can use plastic but make sure that they are high food-grade ones.Tupperware is the best among the plastic options!
Ghee is one product which has been in India since thousands of years!It is used in day to day cooking,auspicious rituals,prayer worship,lighting lamps,medicines and even during the passing away of an individual!It is very beneficial to use Cow Ghee as it has healing and cooling properties.It can be mixed with salt,black pepper or other spices to flavour Rotis.They do not need any other accompaniments as they are sublimely delicious!So you can :
- Mix 2 tbsp Cow Ghee in 2 cups of dough OR
- Apply 1 tsp ghee per Roti!
Have at least 1 tsp Ghee per day.Its very important for a healthy body and strong bones!
Served with Ghee and a Handi of Potato – Capsicum Subzi…
GADGETS FOR MAKING ROTI
As the technology advances,people have started making fast and foolproof machines for making the humble Roti!So these are the basic ways to make this delicious and nutritious flatbread :
- Chakla-Belan : The traditional method
- The Roti Press – A machine used to press a ball of dough into a perfect circle and saves you the trouble of rolling out Rotis!
- The Roti Maker – An electric all-in-one machine which acts like a Roti Press and then cooks the Roti,puffs it up and slides it though the opening saving you all the trouble of preparing Rotis!Here is the link on Amazon for a perfect Roti Maker!