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What is a Roti Flatbread?
Chapati, phulka, rotli, or as it is more commonly known, roti is a quintessential flatbread that is a staple for most meals in India, and in any Indian restaurant around the world. Some even argue it’s more popular than rice.
Made from wholewheat flour and water, the Indian flatbread comes in many variations and is now consumed almost worldwide with curries or any other spicy Indian dish. But despite having just two ingredients, perfecting roti is not as easy as it sounds.
Let’s take a look at how to make the perfect recipe for Roti below.
The History of Roti
A quick search online and you’ll find there are several theories about this flatbread’s origins, including that it either originated from Persia, Egypt or East Africa. Most accepted however, is that roti was founded in Southern India after mentions of it were discovered in old Sanskrit text from 1,600AD.
Ingredients in Roti
Traditionally, roti is a flatbread made with wholemeal wheat flour called “atta” and water. Sometimes this type of flour is also called chakki atta, chapati atta or chapati flour at the supermarket.
Atta flour is stone ground and the friction caused by this process changes the consistency of the starch and protein of the wheat. This creates a unique flavor and texture, and so if you truly want to make authentic roti you need to use this specific flour.
If you struggle to find atta flour at your local grocery stores or online, the next best thing (although you won’t get quite the same results) is to use white whole wheat flour.
Some people also like to add salt or oil, but this is not essential.
Compared to other breads you’ll find in the supermarket, roti is actually rich in nutritional value because of the type of flour used to make it.
In a single serving of roti, you’ll find Vitamins B and E, plus minerals such as copper, zinc, iodine, manganese, silicon, potassium, calcium and others.
It’s also a great source of whole grain and is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.
How to make Roti
Roti is made by mixing the whole wheat flour and water and then kneading it into a dough. Aim to knead the dough for about 10 minutes to fully develop the gluten — it’s the gluten that will allow you to roll the dough so thin.
The dough should feel soft and pliable, but not sticky — the atta flour will make the dough feel different to what you’d typically expect when using white flour dough.
Once the dough is kneaded, you must let it rest for at least an hour before you cook with it.
Then, divide into small balls, flatten them out with a rolling pin and then cook it on the tawa without adding any oil. If you don’t have a tawa, you can use a griddle or a skillet instead.
Roti Tips and tricks
It can be tricky to make a soft roti, and unfortunately, the skill comes with practice rather than any special ingredients. Nevertheless, here are a few tips and tricks to help you make soft rotis:
- The dough must be soft and pliable: if the dough is too tight, add more water. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour
- Use warm water
- Let the dough rest: Even if you’re pushed for time, try to let it rest for at least 30 minutes
- Look for cracks in your dough balls: The balls need to be smooth and round with no cracks
- Roll evenly: Use a rolling pin to apply equal pressure from all sides. If the roti isn’t rolled evenly, it may not puff
- The tawa needs to be hot: If the tawa is not hot enough, the roti will take longer to cook and will end up hard
- Dust flour on the roti before cooking: It makes your roti less dry and more soft
Whether you’re making roti the traditional way with just atta flour and water, or adding salt and oil for flavor, or topping it off with ghee, it takes just a few minutes to cook on the tawa or a heavy-based frying pan.
Roti Bread FAQ's
What is roti flatbread?
Roti flatbread is a type of flatbread made from roti, or unleavened bread. It is popular in India and Pakistan, and can be served plain or with various fillings.
How is roti flatbread made?
Roti flatbread is made by rolling out roti dough into a thin sheet and then baking it on a hot griddle or pan.
What are some common fillings for roti flatbread?
Roti flatbread can be filled with various meats, vegetables, or cheeses. Common fillings include chicken, lamb, potato, and paneer (a type of Indian cottage cheese).
How do you eat roti flatbread?
Roti flatbread is typically eaten with the hands, and can be dipped in sauces or curries.
Is roti flatbread healthy?
Roti flatbread is generally considered to be a healthy food, as it is made from whole wheat flour and does not contain any added fats or sugars.
How many calories are in roti flatbread?
One roti flatbread typically contains around 150-200 calories.
Where can I buy roti flatbread?
Roti flatbread can be found at most Indian or Pakistani restaurants, as well as some specialty grocery stores.
How long does roti flatbread last?
Roti flatbread is best consumed fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and eaten within 2-3 days.
Can roti flatbread be frozen?
Yes, roti flatbread can be frozen for up to 3 months.
What are some substitutes for roti flatbread?
If you cannot find roti flatbread, you can use any other type of unleavened bread, such as chapati or naan. Alternatively, you can make your own roti flatbread using this recipe.
What is the difference between roti flatbread and other types of flatbread?
Roti flatbread is made from roti, or unleavened bread, which sets it apart from other types of flatbreads that are made with leavened doughs.
Is roti flatbread gluten-free?
No, roti flatbread is not gluten-free as it is made from whole wheat flour. However, there are many recipes for gluten-free roti flatbread available online.
Is roti flatbread vegan?
Yes, roti flatbread is vegan as it does not contain any animal products.
Is roti flatbread keto-friendly?
No, roti flatbread is not keto-friendly as it contains carbohydrates. However, there are many recipes for keto-friendly roti flatbread available online.
Is roti flatbread low carb?
No, roti flatbread is not low carb as it contains carbohydrates. However, there are many recipes for low carb roti flatbread available online.
What can I use roti flatbread for?
Roti flatbread can be used as a wraps or sandwich bread, or simply eaten on its own with dipping sauces.
What are some tips for making roti flatbread?
Be sure to roll the dough out thinly to avoid a dense and heavy roti flatbread. If you are having trouble getting the roti flatbread to cook evenly, you can try using a cast iron skillet or griddle.
How do I know when roti flatbread is done?
Roti flatbread is done when it is golden brown on both sides and cooked through. You can test this by inserting a toothpick into the center of the roti flatbread; if it comes out clean, it is done.
What are some common mistakes when making roti flatbread?
The most common mistake when making roti flatbread is not rolling the dough out thinly enough. This will result in a roti flatbread that is dense and heavy. Another common mistake is not cooking the roti flatbread evenly, which can be remedied by using a cast iron skillet or griddle.
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