Indian home made flat bread, popularly known as roti, is one food that’s made in every household. It is probably the culinary bridge between the states of India. Even though the recipe for roti varies from region to region, everyone in the country is familiar with it. There have been innovative variations with the ingredients and the recipes over the years keeping the basic process intact. Roti, ideally, should be made of all purpose wheat flour. Nowadays, however, people use refined, coarse and a convenient mixture of both to prepare Indian flat breads. They are delicious, wholesome and nutritious, and is almost similar to the Mexican tortillas.
The process of roti making is not difficult but it requires a lot of time to make a perfect flat disc. After a lot of trials and many years, I am not an expert yet. That goes to show how much practise one requires to master the art of roti making.
How to make roti
The flour is kneaded into soft, smooth dough with a pinch of salt and proportionate amount of water. You have to knead it well to make it soft. The taste of the roti will depend on the kind of dough you knead.
The dough is kept aside for a while, for about 10-15 minutes, before it is divided into small portions. The small portions are then made round by pressing softly between the palms. Each portion then flattened softly and then rolled over the work surface (covered with loose flour) with a rolling pin. Continue rolling the dough till it is about 7-8 inches in diameter.
Do not grip the rolling pin too tightly. Place the palms of your hands on the edges of the rolling pin move the pin slowly. The flat discs should look like round pizza breads but much flatter, much thinner.
Place the flat disc on a flat skillet for a few seconds. Turn over to the other side and wait till you see bubbles. Then place the flat breads on grill (either over mesh or by holding with a tong) directly onto the high fire to bloat. The roti should balloon up into a perfect round ball. Flip it over and cook on the other side.
Paratha is a popular variation of roti. Add oil or butter in the flour to make tighter dough. Make flat round discs and place it on the pan. Cook both the sides on a flat pan with more butter or oil to make crispy parathas.
You can go wild with your imagination while making parathas. Stuffed parathas are something that never taste bad. Stuff the small portions with the stuffing of your choice (potato, vegetables, minced meat etc.)
Puris are deep fried, round, flat discs that enliven you anytime, anywhere. Add oil to the flour and knead well. Make smaller portions - smaller than roti or paratha. Roll in to form small round discs with oil on the work surface. Heat refined oil in a heavy bottomed wok on medium flame. Deep fry the flattened flour discs till they bloat up to form nice, fried puries. Serve hot.
Pickles go very well with Indian flat breads. Little tanginess and a simple roti or paratha could taste like heaven. Yogurt is another thing that goes well with it. Season the yogurt with onion and cucumber cubes, green chillies, salt to make a delicious dressing. Apart from these, Indian flat breads can be eaten with cooked vegetables, chicken or mutton curry, Indian curries, Indian dals (lentils) and kebabs.
Nowadays, you will find the restaurants serving authentic Indian breads. You get to choose from a variety of breads, right from tandoori roti to rumali (extra flat refined flour bread of about 16 inch diameter) to stuffed varierites of puries and parathas. I have tried them in a couple of good restaurants. However, nothing can beat the home made version made by mom. I think love does the trick.