The Perfect Roti

Roti are a staple in Indian cooking. Just about everything that you eat could be improved with the addition of a roti next to it, from curries to sabjis and sometimes even dessert! I know that when she was younger, my mom would break off little pieces of her roti and use them to eat kheer, which is almost the Indian equivalent of rice pudding. Roti is such a permanent fixture in both our diet and our culture that oftentimes, mother in laws will judge their son’s partners based on how round their roti are before the two can be married. Hopefully my mother in law is not that traditional or judgemental, or else I’d be in hot water with my lopsided roti!

When I was a kid, I used to love helping my mom making rotis to go along with dinner. We still have baby videos with me and my sisters playing in the flour while my mom portioned out dough next to us. We even had a little baby sized rolling pin so that we could copy what she was doing. I remember getting bored easily, thinking that making roti was so boring and time consuming, and not understanding why I couldn’t just eat white cheddar mac and cheese for every meal.

Now, given that I’m a little older and have much more experience in the kitchen, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how easy making roti can be, and I hope to practice my rolling skills a little more!

A puffed up roti sits on a metal rack above an open gas stove element. Behind it is a half cooked roti on a tava.

The Perfect Roti

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes roughly 12 roti

Ingredients:
1 cup durum flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water + more as needed
1 tbsp oil

Instructions:
1. Mix together durum flour, whole wheat flour and water. Knead until the dough does not stick to the side of the bowl, add more water as needed to achieve this.

2. Drizzle oil around the outside of the dough and then knead again to combine.

A top down view of a lump of whole wheat dough in a silver bowl.

3. Let rest for at least 15 minutes and up to overnight.

4. Portion out dough into small balls, roughly the size of a golf ball. Roll between floured hands to make round and push down to form each ball into a little disc. Coat lightly in flour and set aside as you portion out the rest of the dough.

Five small balls of dough next to a wooden rolling pin with red handles on a black countertop. Behind them to the left is a container full of flour, and a dusting of flour speckles the countertop.

5. Roll each disc out flat on a lightly floured surface, trying your best to ensure that it maintains a round shape. The flat roti should be about 1/4 of an centimetre thick.

6. Heat a tava or a flat, non-stick pan on medium high heat. On another element, either place a small heat proof metal rack as close as possible to an electric element, or on top of the gas flame.

7. Flip a rolled out roti onto the nonstick pan and let cook on one side until it changes and darkens in colour. Flip the roti then, and use a spatula or tongs to push down the edges to ensure they are cooked evenly. Allow to cook for another 30 seconds or so before transferring onto the metal rack.

A top down view of a half cooked roti on a nonstick lava.

8. Turn the heat on to high below the metal rack and allow the roti to puff up. If you notice only one area of the roti is bubbling, lightly press on it with a spatula or tongs to encourage the spread of the air. Once one side has some nice charred colour, flip to the other side and cook again until the colour matches before removing from the heat.

9. Repeat the same process until you run out of dough. Serve with your favourite Indian dish, or slap some butter on it and enjoy!

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