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.

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