Roti write-off

Mallika Basu - Roti write-off

Posted 23rd April 2007


Rotis or chappatis are eaten as an alternative to rice around India, especially in the North of India. Not to be confused with paranthas or naan, these are cooked with whole wheat flour or atta (pictured) without any oil on a tawa or flat griddle pan.

The simplest version of a roti is called a phulka, because of the way it swells with air when cooked. It is topped with a dollop of butter or ghee before being torn into little pieces and eaten. When we were kids my mother used to make us rub some of the warm, melted butter on our lips as a natural lip balm.

It never occurred to me to make a roti from scratch. These flatbreads are best enjoyed piping hot and soft, cooked and delivered to the dining table by someone else. A cook, your mother, or if you’re lucky enough, a good Indian wife.

My husband couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw this in action. He said ruefully: “I married the wrong Indian woman!”

For I am more likely to throw a frozen chappati at his head than painstakingly knead, roll, pan cook and serve a fresh one to him.

Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and teach myself how to make rotis. Don’t get me wrong, rotis/chappattis are really easy to make. They just require more effort to make from scratch than rice and are also easily available in ready-to-cook frozen packs.

Sadly, I didn’t have a tawa. But thankfully, I did have a rolling pin used last to make mojitos at our Cuban-themed party. As I got stuck in kneading, three thoughts came to my mind:

  • What have I done to my freshly manicured fingernails
  • There is flour everywhere
  • I am a loser if these don’t shape into perfect rounds and puff up

I was pleasantly surprised with the shape and started screaming “check me out, check me out” to the bemused hubby. As he left the house to play tennis with a friend, I insisted they both came back for a lunch of fresh rotis and lamb shakuti.

I left the rotis rolled out and ready for their return. Big mistake.

The rotis came out, as I texted my mum, hard as rocks and flat as pancakes. Poor hubby and friend ate in silence.

But I am still unfazed. Practice makes perfect, right? I have a 1.5 kg bag of atta and frozen chappatis as fallback. Try 2 to follow.

11 responses to “Roti write-off”

  1. sia says:

    ha ha ha ha… u rolled them and left there? i too have made a same mistake and my hubby till now takes pleasure in reminding those flat,papad like chapaties;) we learn from our mistakes(n in my case almost everytime;)
    thats one cool picture…

  2. Trig says:

    There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes, as you say that’s the best way to learn. It’s the people who won’t even admit their own mistakes that piss me off. We’re all human aren’t we?

  3. Manjula says:

    Practice makes perfect..thats for sure. Me too remember those days when i struggled with chapathis. Even today whenever it comes out just too good i think its by fluke.
    Thats a wonderful picture captured with real action.

  4. sandip roy says:

    well well well… preparing rotis is not so simple after all, eh;-))…i tried it only once but am sure the amount of water i put in was so much that flour stuck to each and every of my finger and i really had to scrap that attempt….since then am waiting for someone to give me the exact qty of water, oil etc along with the qty of flour……coz it is a fact that i wud prefer fresh hot rotis to rice any day!!!!…we r looking upto u Mallika to lead the roti brigade….

  5. padmaja says:

    Oh yes!!!
    no one can forget those disaster days when things doesn’t work out the way we like right??
    i remember my struggle with rotis, initial days were like they used to turn out like papads if i leave them even for 5 min.
    I started adding just milk and then they started coming out very soft. Try adding milk and see

  6. 30in2005 says:

    Neat trick for roti’s: Get a foord processor with a sough hook. Knead roti atta in there gradually adding the water (this leaves the air in) and once ball shaped like take it out and do a final light kneading with well floured hands. let it rest 10 minutes atleast before you start making your roti’s.

    I knead a huge amount, break into smaller quatities and freeze. Then on day you want to use the atta, move it from freezer to fridge in the morning, before work, and you come back to defrosted atta. It may need some supplementary kneading and fluffing up before it is nice and elastic.

    Try, try again is my motto. I have got your shammi kebabs down to a pat now….

  7. 30in2005 says:

    sorry for typo’s – its ‘food processor’ and ‘dough hook’ in that first sentence.

  8. Mallika says:

    Thanks so much guys. I am an idiot. But armed with your advice and some other useful tips and tricks from friends, I am ready to try again!

  9. Mallika,

    I come to your site and I’m always amazed at all the diverse Indian foods you manage to make. Don’t worry if sometimes things don’t work out, I’m still amazed. I think I will pass and try making something easier 😉

    Take care,

  10. UK Food Blogs – April 2007 List…

    Several new additions warrant an update to the list of UK Food bloggers. In fact this is a food and wine blog list. No UK beer blogs as yet though, which I find surprising, although perhaps I am not looking……

  11. Aneesa says:

    Rotis r really difficult to make- i struggle so much!

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