My neighbor and friend brought over some roti and vegetable curry she’d made to one of our parties and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Not just because it was getting a bit late and all the hot food had been gobbled up by hungry guests when suddenly this aromatic chickpea and potato curry appeared along with soft, flaky, delicious roti to save the night, but also because it was new to me. I’d never had this style of roti before—large, thin, supple flatbread that looks as fragile as a pastry crust but actually needs a bit of effort to tear off a piece and then is delightfully buttery and chewy to eat.
I didn’t get my friend’s recipe yet, but I found this on Metemgee’s cool blog and it turned out great. Watch her awesome youtube video as well. Serve with curry or any kind of side dish (such as okra or spinach) you like. I thought it was delicious with a spicy tomato salsa as a quick snack too.
Ingredients for 3 large roti
adapted from metemgee.com
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 cup water
2 tsp melted butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1) In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter with your fingers and mix.
2) Make a well in the center, pour in the water and get stuck in with your hands. This is gooey and sticky—just a mess. Enjoy it. Probably take your rings off. Push your fingers right in and squeeze the dough like a toddler with clay. After a few minutes, the dough should become a little less sticky and supple. Pat a little olive oil on it to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
3) Cover with a damp paper towel and leave for 30 minutes to an hour. I waited an hour.
4) The dough should now be wonderfully soft and smooth. Sprinkle flour on a work surface, divide the dough into three pieces (or four if you do not have a large frying pan).
5) Using flour to help with stickiness, roll out the first chunks of dough into a very thin, flat circle.
6) Use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter/olive oil mixture lightly over the flattened dough.
7) Starting from the center of the dough, cut a straight line out to the edge and fold a little bit of the dough over onto itself to make a small triangle. Keep rolling it around until you have completely rolled the dough into a fat cone shape.
8) Pick up the cone shape, fat end upwards and poke it into itself so that none of the oily edges are left (if this sounds confusing, watch her video!). Flip the dough over so that the pointy side is now up and then gently push the pointy end into itself. You should now have a chubby round ball of dough. This method ensures that there are layers of buttery oil in the roti—sort of like a puff pastry.
9) Roll this dough out carefully so that the center stays the center and the oil layers spread out evenly in the dough. Roll it out as thin as you can (or as big as your frying pan can accommodate).
10) Heat up a frying pan on high heat. Do not oil it. Place the rolled out roti dough on the frying pan and let cook about a minute, or until you begin to see air pockets form. Flip the roti and brush more oil/butter mixture on it. Let cook another minute and flip again. Brush the oil mixture on this side. You can flip the roti again if it needs a little more cooking time on each side. It is done when both sides are golden brown like a cooked tortilla.
11) Place the hot roti on a paper towel and fold over once into a half circle. Now you need to ‘clap’ it to make it flaky. Sure this is freakin’ hot flatbread you’re about to pick up with your bare hands, but no one said cooking was easy. Quickly pick up the half circle of roti and clap it together fairly hard a few times. I tend to toss the roti slightly and clap it as quickly as I can to minimize the scorching. Clap the bread until it is nice and flaky, then fold over and repeat to fry the other two rotis.