What is Roti?
Roti is an unleavened Indian flatbread. It can be prepared in many ways depending upon the type of flour one likes and the kind of equipment one uses. Roti is a general term and hence, there are many other names for the various kinds such as “chapati”.
Roti can be rolled out with a rolling pin or between the palms of the hand and can be cooked on a griddle, in a clay oven, or roasted directly on a fire.
In this recipe, I am describing phulka roti or the puffed flatbread using whole-wheat flour cooked on a cast iron griddle. Those in the West may mix up phulka roti with poori, another puffed bread. The latter however is fried. Phulka is baked.
Ayurvedic texts mention wheat as a grain that strengthens the body and improves the ojas. The sweet taste (rasa), makes it a good choice for vata and pitta doshas. It increases kapha dosha. Wheat is tonifying. It nourishes and supports life and acts as a repair agent for joints as it contains the earth and the water elements. Wheat is also considered to be a grain that bulks up the stool and aids in causing motion.
Roti Ayurvedic Energetics
Virya – Cool
Vipaka – Pungent
- Caraka Samhita Vol 1 Sutrasthanam, Chapter 27, Verse 21-22
- Astanga Samgraha, Sutrasthanam, Chapter 7
How to Make Roti
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of water
Pinch of salt (optional)
Ghee (optional but encouraged)
In a prepping bowl or in a dough plate add wheat flour and make a well in the center. Slowly add water and start kneading the flour. Once the dough has been formed, knead it a bit more to even out the undulations. Cover it with a damp napkin and let it rest for about 30 minutes. The amount of water needed to knead the dough might vary slightly depending upon the fiber content of the flour. The recipe for dough making can be halved or doubled up to adjust quantity. The dough can be formed by hand, in a food processor or in an electric stand mixer.
After the dough has been resting for about 30 minutes or so, it is ready to be rolled out. To make roti, grease your hands with few drops of ghee and tear out a golf ball size piece of dough and shape it into a ball.
On a dry and lightly floured stone or wood surface, roll the ball into a circle of about 6-7 inches in diameter with a rolling pin. You might have to lift the rolled out roti a few times, turn it over and dust some dry flour to achieve the desired size and thickness. One-eighth of an inch is a good thickness to aim for. Keep a seasoned cast iron griddle ready on a medium to high flame burner.
Transfer the roti onto the griddle and turn it over in about 8-10 seconds. On this side, the roti should be cooked for about 30 seconds or so and is ready to be turned over again. Right after this step, gently apply pressure for the two layers of the roti to separate and get filled fill up with hot air. Pressure can be applied with the help of a small cloth napkin. Brownish spots also start appearing as it gets cooked. Take it off from the griddle and apply ghee. Roti can be partially cooked on a flat griddle and can be finished on an open flame as well, although beginners should
familiarize themselves with the concept and the skill if they want to attempt to make it this way. Roti is now ready and can be enjoyed with daal, chutney, or a vegetable side or can be saved in a keep warm container for a few hours. The leftover dough can be stored in the refrigerator in a container for up to a day or so.
Roti making is not just a recipe, it is an art that has been constantly worked on. It is a love of labor. Chances are it will not turn out to be the best the very first time, but it evolves every time one makes it. It helps us understand and learn the process of patience on our journey to perfection. Time to get rolling!
Yield- makes about 6-7 Rotis
Author Madhvika Singh
Madhvika was raised in India and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a background in Ayurveda and a Masters in Health Care Administration, with a passion for gardening, cooking, and health policy. The best way to reach her is at MadhvikAyu@gmail.com.
Edited by Dr. Marc Halpern Ay.D