Some folks call it a chapati, I called it a roti. If you are travelling around India, Nepal or Sri Lanka you will find this round flatbread on the side of most dishes. Traditionally they are made with stoneground whole wheat flour, sometimes just made with flour and water but I do love the decadent richness that comes from adding a good dose of butter or coconut oil. Currently, they are a staple in my house with mid-week suppers in winter to make a healthy break from rice or potatoes, but it wasn’t always that way! An Indian menu development project left me unintentionally hating Indian food for some time!! Then when I softened to it, shock horror, I used to buy roti ready-made!!!
There are not many foods I dislike, or won’t try. Ok having just read Pammy McOnie’s stories from her Vietnam foodie tour, I too would stop at the duck embryo, with you @samlinsell. In general, I love food more than words can express. But a project developing an Indian menu for 3 months left me unintentionally hating this cuisine for years!! I could not bare the smell, I had to cross the road when approaching an Indian restaurant. It was bad! Just before starting the project, my husband and I had just moved into a flat off the Uxbridge Road in West London after getting married. It had an open plan kitchen lounge, let’s face it, it was London – so was tiny! After 3 month’s of endless paneer making and curry bubbling, the spices and smells had permeated the walls and curtains. It hit you as soon as you walked up the stairs into the flat. I gave in after 2 weeks of ventilation, midst winter with every window open, the only option was to repaint.
How good is your cockney rhyming slang?
I think it’s a prerequisite living in London, one has to love Indian food. It seems to be the top choice for a Friday bite to eat after the pub. To go for a Ruby Murray, (Cockney rhyming slang) or curry to the rest of us. Ruby Murray was actually a famous 50’s Irish singer, but many a curry house took on her name after this slang became popular.
Buttery roti, what’s not to love
Tearing apart a warm buttery naan, roti or chapati as we called them there and dipping it into a creamy curry is truly a joy! I probably loved that more than the curry. I’m such a carb lover! I’d be happy living in the South of France with baguette & butter, maybe a little cheese here and there.
My Indian hiatus
After my 4 or 5 year hiatus, ban on all flavours Indian, I caved. My resistance for soft buttery Roti wore thin. I remember the moment actually, I was styling an M&S meal dish in South London, sort of a UCOOK vibe where you get all your ingredients and a recipe. I heated some star anise, cinnamon & mustards seeds in a hot skillet. The fragrance of these three spices was incredible but then I had to add the tinned tomatoes & coconut milk. Ooooh, it captured me right there, and it came with store-bought roti. By this stage @Dishoom had opened, an incredible London based Indian food chain like no other. A clever friend @bigbellybigbottom developed the menu with a few other marvellous foodie friends. If you ever in London it’s certainly worth a visit. My foodie buddies had been raving about it but I wasn’t really fussed until they dragged me there on one of our regular supper club meet-ups. Wowzers!! The interiors are sublime, I won’t spoil it but imagine smokey old train vibes. Anyway, they make the most delicious bacon naan!! I digress! So I was back on the train as it were…. but I never ever bothered to made roti myself, the Woolies 6 pack generally made it into my basket for quick and easy mid-week suppers. They are soooo good! I’d cook up some Elgin free range mini fillets in a quick smokey tomato sauce, with a sprinkle smoked paprika, a handful of spinach, some peppers & tons of parsley. Done in 10 minutes while the roti’s heated in the oven.
So Sunday lunch happened… and I was put to shame
Anyway, back in sunny South African, one casual Sunday afternoon lunching, my friend Angela put me to shame and made some roti amidst the chaos of kids charging all over the place and friends galore to cater for. Needless to say, I will never buy roti’s again!
Since then, Angela you should be happy to hear, I have happily been making roti’s quite regularly, by hand and sometimes in the @thermomixuk too, which is a treat. I have put them on quite a few menu’s too, in kitchens where they have been buying in wraps too. Chefs often challenge me, saying there is no time, I’m adding more prep work but once we make them they are always loved by the customers and the chef’s they stay on the menu! For a vegan version just swap the butter with coconut oil. I haven’t yet perfected the gluten-free version, but I promise I will get to it!
Now it’s your turn to make your own
Roti’s are best made fresh and eaten warm, but you can happily roll the dough and stack them in between pieces of greaseproof paper, then freeze them uncooked. Thaw them properly before cooking tho.
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 30 minutes
3 cups white flour plus extra for rolling
125g butter, softened
½ tsp salt
1¼ cup warm water
MIX the flour & salt in a large bowl or food processor
RUB in the butter to make breadcrumbs
POUR over the water to make a soft dough.
DIVIDE into 12 equal balls weighing 80g each, allow to rest for 20 minutes if time permits
ROLL into thin rounds with a floured rolling pin or if not a wine bottle will do.
ROLL OUT then in a hot non-stick pan cook over a high heat, 1 minute each side until golden.
I love adding chopped herbs from the garden, or a pinch of smoked dried chillies. Once you have mastered the roti, try adding desiccated coconut or raisins, I also love an Aloo Roti which is stuffed with mashed potato and spices sometimes.
FREEZING & RECIPE IDEAS
Yes, they do freeze beautifully, roll the dough and stack them in between pieces of greaseproof paper, then freeze them uncooked. If you are cooking them from frozen, just manage the temperature, you don’t want to burn them before they cook, so into a hot pan, then reduce the heat to cook them through. It’s such a great trick to have up your sleeve for a quick lunch, whip one out the freezer, cook it in the pan and stuff it full of your fav ingredients, some hummus, avo and slaw or falafel, yoghurt and chilli. Yum
If you are doubling the recipe, rather not stack many on top of each other before cooking, as I did in the picture above! I made the mistake and put them near the hot pan and they melted into one big pile and I had to re-roll the lot!!!!! Huff
Just swap out the butter with 125g of softened coconut oil
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