Roti – Chapatti – Phulka

I started learning how to make Roti from a very early age and haven’t stopped since, as my own children are big fans of them over rice. Many a Roti gets made in my home every meal time. One can easily eat 2-3 of them at a time so if we have all the family home it can become a task and a half and sometimes I will have two Tawa’s (griddles) on the go at once. You can slather them in butter if you like – and if it’s salted butter you get an even better taste. As a child we used to butter them – and we would have one pat of Anchor Butter dedicated to just buttering roti in the fridge. It would decrease in size during the week and the wrapping would come down further and further as it buttered all the weeks rotis. The good old days!

Many Punjabi’s will eat their whole meal without using a spoon as they will finish their Dal or Sabzi using their Roti, it seems to be a technique, as you will rarely see a Punjabi have their main dish or any roti left over at the end of the meal – it is all eaten in proportion to how much of the roti they have left in their hand. A bite of the roti is known as a Burkee – and each Burkee has a Dal or Sabji portion allocated to it. Even after all the years of first watching my dad do it – and then going on to watching my husband do it – I still find it interesting that they manage to get it all into proportion!

Useless fact – If you ask a Punjabi person what the word for dough is in Punjabi – they’ll tell you it’s atta. If you ask the same person what the Punjabi word for flour is in Punjabi – they’ll tell you it’s atta. Now imagine growing up trying to figure that one out!

Roti is an unleavened bread and is made from just two ingredients – wholemeal chapatti flour and water. Some people add a little oil to the dough mix and a pinch of salt, however it’s entirely up to you.

The dough needs to be kneaded just right – it should not be too dry or too sticky – so getting the balance right is very important. Everything has a beginning and an end – and if your dough is not right your roti will not be right so always remember that when kneading. It will really impact the finished product. If it is too sticky add more dry flour and continue kneading. If too dry and a little more water, or alternatively wet your hands and knead again. If you want a soft roti, that puffs up on the tawa (griddle) your dough needs to be perfect.

Ingredients – Makes 8

2 cups of chapatti flour

Water – you can use hot, warm or cold – add gradually

  • Mix the flour using your hands, adding the water a little at a time until you have a non sticky and non dry but smooth dough that springs back to the touch as per the below video.
  • Cover it loosely with a tea-towel and it rest for about 25 minutes

  • Take a small piece of dough – about the size of a golf ball and make a pedha (Punjabi for a ball of dough).
  • To make a neat round ball (see video 1), place in your palm and using your opposite hand – push the dough inwards across your palm. Do this until all the edges have been tucked into the dough and it is beginning to resemble a ball. It should be neat with no untidy edges. You should now have a neat round ball.

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