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Archive for November, 2007

Beginning with the staple: The ROTI

Posted by vivnidhi on November 19, 2007

My first post. Starting with the very basic……the staple in our house. Carb watching for me and cholesterol watching for my husband has already led to the roti being the only flour preparation made everyday. Paranthas, naans, all are enjoyed only rarely, when we like to treat ourselves.


Hot Rotis stay fresh in aluminum foil

Rotis or phulkas need no introduction whatsoever. But the art of making them is really THE skill to know in the chauka (kitchen).  It used to be an accomplishment when my roti too would puff like my Mom’s. Her standards are still too high for me. If left on my own, I would make my family members eat all the rotis I made till they got to eat the properly puffed up one (which would be rare.)

That changed after marriage when I would quietly eat all the messed up ones or the ones which were charred and give only soft puffed up ones to my husband. So, even though I could make rotis in India, making them in the U.S. required another set of skills as we had an electric stove in our apartment. I can’t wait to see my mother struggle with her first couple of rotis when she comes here……..mean, I know, yet I am amused, even by that thought.

First, one needs whole wheat flour. Durum flour is a complete no no as far as I am concerned if one really wants soft which also stay soft until the next day. Sujata is the only brand I get here in Indian grocery stores although Pillsbury is as good.

Next you need a griddle, metal mesh (to prevent the roti from burning on electric coil) and a rolling pin.


4 cups flour

1 3/4 cups water

That’s it, yes. I don’t add salt cause I have always eaten roti this way. Enjoy the basic wheat taste. For the dough, I use a big plate with raised edges….called ‘paraat’ in India but I guess any vessel with high edges can be used. Spread the dry wheat flour in the plate and I sprinkle half the amount of water in the flour. Using circular motion of my hands, I try to wet all the flour. Then I start gathering the flour together and keep sprinkling more water as needed. After the dough gets together, hands’ knuckles and the small of the palm is used. 2-3 oz of extra water may be used during the process of kneading, if one finds it comfortable. A clean plate is a sign of just the right dough. If by chance, it gets very sticky, more dry flour needs to be added.  The softer the dough, the better, I just make sure that it can be rolled properly. Punching the dough well with hands and using the knuckles also helps.  A drop of oil is spread in the plate in the end and the dough is kneaded on it till it absorbs all oil. The dough is ready.I make a fair amount of dough  and keep it in the refrigerator and it lasts me for about 4 days. It does change color and become darker but the rotis come out just as good.


Roti dough with dry flour for dusting.


Divide the dough into equal rounds. Here’s my 2 year old trying to help me out.


Smaller rounds make thin phulkas ..closer to perfect. Dust the round with dry flour and begin rolling using a rolling pin on a flat surface.


Uniform thickness of the rolled out roti is the key to it being puffed up later. Try to roll out away from the center of the ball.  Make sure that the edges are of the same thickness as the center after the roti is rolled out completely.


I try making a thin round; one can suit one’s taste


I keep the metal mesh under the griddle so that it heats up sufficiently as well. The griddle is heated before one starts rolling out the dough round. If the roti sticks on the griddle, then the griddle is too hot, reduce the heat. If the griddle is not hot enough, the surface visible will take longer to develop bubbles. Usually the burner stays on maximum heat when I make rotis, reducing it in between if the next roti is not rolled out already.


Once some bubbles seem to develop on the underside of the roti on the griddle, it is turned over. Tongs can be used for this but hands work as well. This is the first turn.


This is after the first turn. Its fine if you if it does not get this brown.


Using the smaller burner helps. Next the griddle is removed and the roti is directly put on the wire mesh. Elevate the wire mesh after putting the roti on it. The heat has to be at the maximum when I put the roti directly on the coil.  Give the roti a jump and flip it over if it is not puffed up fully. Both sides need to get a few brown spots. 100_1030.jpg

The Phulka’s ready!!

Similar procedure can be used for making rotis on gas stoves. http://www.ifood.tv/recipe/roti is a good video through wikipedia.

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