HOW TO MAKE ROTI/CHAPATI
One of the first things I learned to cook from my mom was Roti. This was a long time ago, so I feel pretty confident about sharing all the details on how to make the perfect Rotis at home.
Learning how to make Roti is like making any other bread, there is no special recipe, it is just practice. Along with practice you also have to know some different varieties of flour (atta) which I will go over.
Typically, when we think of making any type of bread, we think of oven, yeast, mixer and a lot of experience needed. But South Asian flatbreads are some of the simplest and delicious breads to make. No use of any fancy kitchen tool, not worrying about dough rising times, but just a little practice is needed. Once you master the skill of making Roti, you will truly feel like an artisan bread maker.
WHAT IS ROTI/CHAPATI?
Chapatis and Rotis are the same and can be used interchangeably. Phulka is similar as well, but usually can be finished off on an open flame and rolled out very thin. All 3 are whole wheat South Asian flatbreads. Traditionally made from atta, which is a whole wheat flour with higher gluten content. Roti is a staple across South Asian households. There are also variations of Roti in the Caribbean, West Indies and East Africa. These thin and soft breads can be eaten with vegetable or meat curries, used as wraps, or just with a spread of butter or ghee. Depending on the region, the thickness and size and preparation of the Rotis will be different.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED?
- Atta (flour)
- Oil & salt (optional)
- Large bowl
- Clean kitchen towel
- Rolling pin
- Extra dry atta flour
- Flat griddle or tawa (round concave griddle)
- Small kitchen towel or spatula
WHAT FLOUR IS BEST FOR ROTI
The perfect flour to use for Rotis are whole wheat flours. These types of flours are called Atta, these are Roti specific flours. Atta flour can come in varieties of 100% whole wheat, refined options and multigrain. The whole wheat varieties have higher gluten protein content. The more processed the flour is the less gluten it will have. You can try different types of Atta flour to see which flour you prefer. For each brand of flour, the quantity of water will be a little different and will be the flavor.
Recently I have been using the Golden Temple Atta: Products (golden-temple.com) brand. They have a variety of Atta flour to choose from.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE ROTI
There is no special recipe for making the roti dough. It requires just flour and water. Sometimes also an addition of oil and salt. You can definitely add 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil, for some varieties of flour it can make the dough more pliable. I would recommend that you try making dough with and without the oil and salt and see what you prefer.
You will start by slowly adding lukewarm water to the flour. Using your fingertips in a circular motion bring the dough together. Initially the dough will look dry and coarse. You want to keep kneading using knuckles and folding the dough. You can continue to add the water, a tablespoon at a time. If the dough becomes too wet add little flour and keep kneading. If the dough is very stiff continue adding water. If you are adding oil, add it to the flour first and using your hands work the oil into the flour until it looks grainy than add the water.
Continue kneading for about 5-7 minutes. Then you want to rest the dough. Wet your hand and moisten the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rest on the countertop. This will continue to form the gluten. When I am in a hurry, I rest the dough for 15-20 minutes. When I have more time, I allow it to rest for 30-45 minutes. Once it’s done resting knead again for a few minutes. The dough should be smooth, soft and pliable.
If you realize the dough has become very soft, then you can refrigerate for a few hours or overnight and it will be easy to work with.
If you are not using the dough right away. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge and use it within 3-4 days.
USING STAND MIXER TO KNEAD DOUGH
Keep in mind a stand mixer will mix with more power than your hands. You want to keep the speed very low when using a mixer. Kneading the dough at a high speed will form the gluten too fast that will make the dough very tight and tough. I recommend you start off learning to knead the dough using your hands. Once you really get to know what the dough should feel like then you can use the stand mixer.
SHAPING THE ROTI
Shape into a round ball then a flat disk using your palm. Try to use less dry flour as possible. Roll out on a wooden board, the dough sticks less on wood then other surfaces. Roll out in a circular motion as evenly as possible, lifting after each roll and adding dry flour as needed. Once the Roti is rolled you want to cook it immediately. The longer the dough sits on the counter it will get very soft. Best way is to make a few round balls and have one Roti rolled out. This will make the process go faster.
Traditionally a tawa is used to cook the Rotis. This is a concave round cast iron griddle. These can be found at the local South Asian or international markets and on amazon. You can also use a nonstick flat griddle.
Important to remember that Rotis cook very fast. The heat has to be on medium to medium high. The longer the Roti sits on the griddle it will get tough and hard. If the Roti cooks too fast, it can burn. So, keeping the temperature at a certain flame will come with practice.
Place the Roti on the griddle. Once it starts to change color and small air bubbles appear, flip the Roti. After a few seconds you want to flip it again. You will see some brown spots or blisters appear. Gently press the sides and turn the Roti. You can use a small kitchen towel or a spatula to press the Roti. Flip it one more time to cook any raw areas. Take off the flame.
Once they are cooked, brush a little butter or ghee and keep covered.
TIPS FOR MAKING SOFT ROTIS
- The more you practice the better your Roti skills will be.
- Dough has to be kneaded smooth, soft and pliable. Knead with warm water.
- Allow the dough to rest.
- Roll each dough ball into a smooth, crack-free.
- Roll out evenly as possible.
- Avoid using too much dry flour when rolling. Dust any excess dry flour off.
- Griddle should be nice and hot but not high heat or too low.
- Roti should cook pretty fast. Longer it sits on the griddle the tougher it gets.
- Brush with some butter or ghee and keep covered till ready to serve.
HOW TO STORE COOKED ROTIS
Once your Rotis are cooked. You can place them on a paper towel first then roll in aluminum foil to stay soft. Letting them stay out at room temperature covered for a day is fine. You can store them for longer in the fridge, but place in an airtight container.
Reheat on the griddle or microwave.
HOW TO PARTIALLY COOK REFRIGERATE OR FREEZE
Rotis are something my family enjoys routinely and often I make them daily, so they are fresh. I know sometimes we just don’t have the time to be in the kitchen for long but still would love homemade Roti. If you are new to making Roti it may also be taking you longer to cook Rotis. Partially cooking the Rotis and placing them in the fridge or freezer is such a time saver. You can fully cook the Rotis and store them, but I don’t like the texture and just feel like they don’t taste that good. When you partially cook Rotis and store them, they still need to be fully cooked, so they have that fresh taste and aroma.
Keep in mind this will save you time but don’t compare prepped Rotis to the fresh.
- Shape the Rotis and roll out 2 at a time. This will make the process go faster.
- Heat the tawa or griddle.
- Place rolled Roti on a hot griddle; within 15-20 seconds you will start to see it get cooked. Then flip it over, give it another 5 seconds and take off the griddle & place on a clean kitchen towel. Don’t allow Rotis to cool without being covered, they will get tough.
- Prepare all chapatis in the same manner.
- Stack & place parchment paper top & bottom of the stack so they don’t get soggy. Place it in a Ziploc bag with a date. Place the bag in the refrigerator & keep for up to a week.
- You can also place bag in freezer. Make sure squeeze out extra air from the bag to prevent freezer burn. You can also place parchment paper between each Roti as well. You can place in freezer for few months, but I don’t freeze for that long.
- Once ready to cook set refrigerated or frozen Roti out on paper towel and let it come to room temperature or thaw. This does not take long.
- Heat the griddle, continue cooking just like you would making fresh roti. Brush little butter or ghee on top and enjoy warm.
HOW TO MAKE ROTI/CHAPATI
- Flat griddle
- Rolling Pin
- Small clean kitchen towel or spatula
- Wood board to roll the rotis on
- 2 cups Atta Flour (whole wheat chapati flour)
- 1 1/2 cups water (lukewarm)
- Extra water in separate bowl for kneading
KNEAD THE DOUGH
- Add flour to a large bowl.
- Slowly start adding the water. Using fingertips in circular motion to bring dough together. The dough will look coarse and dry. Keep adding little water to bring it together.
- If the dough is very sticky add few more tablespoons of dry flour and keep kneading but just wetting your hands. If the dough is feeling very stiff keep wetting hands and kneading, folding and kneading with back of knuckles. Knead for about 5-7 minutes.
- Rest the dough 15-20 minutes. Wet your hand and moisten the dough, cover with kitchen towel and leave out on the counter. If you have more time, you can rest the dough longer 30-45 minutes. If you are not using the dough right away. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 2-4 days.
SHAPING THE ROTI
- Take out everything needed. Griddle, rolling pin and some dry flour in medium size bowl.
- If using all the dough, divide the dough into 10-15 equal size dough balls. Quantity will vary depending on how thick or thin your rotis are. Keep covered so they don't dry out.
- Drench your fingertips in dry flour. Take piece of dough, start bringing the sides into the middle to create a seam and it will start to take round shape.
- Place seam side down on nondominant palm. With opposite hand keeping light pressure roll in circular motion closing the seam.
- Place in dry flour press down and form a disk by flattening between thumbs/fingertips of both hands. Or just flatten with palm it will be easier to roll once in a flat disk shape.
- Place disk in dry flour again. Place on flat surface or wooden board and roll using a rolling pin. Roll in a circular motion evenly as possible. Keep lifting and adding little dry flour so the dough does not stick. Doesn't have to be round but try to make sure it is even. Try not to roll more than 2, the longer the dough sits out it will become dry or very soft and can be hard to handle.
COOKING THE ROTI
- Make sure the griddle was heating while you were rolling the roti. Medium high heat.
- Place roti on griddle, once it starts to change color small air bubbles will appear. Go ahead and flip using tongs or spatula. Give it a few more seconds you will see more air bubbles appearing, go ahead and flip again. Now using the kitchen towel or spatula press the sides of the roti gently and rotate it. Flip again and keep pressing the sides and center. You will start to see brown specks, continue cooking any raw areas. Take off heat. Keep in mind don't cook for too long or else the roti will get tough. If you are not seeing the brown spots appear quickly the flame may be too low.
- Brush with little butter or ghee.
- keep covered in a clean kitchen towel. Serve warm.