Roti bread

I was making pumpkin soup for dinner one evening over a year ago. While I was seasoning the soup, I realised there was no bread in the flat. I remember thinking that it would be a shame not to be able to dip a nice slice of bread in our soup bowls. It was almost 7.30 in the evening, when the shops in Turin close. Going out for a last minute bread-run was no longer an option. I had a stash of strong bread flour and dry yeast in my pantry but preparing a leavened bread from scratch would have been way too time-consuming at that point too.

Then I had a Eureka moment. I suddenly remembered my copy of the River Cottage Handbook: Bread by Daniel Stevens. In it, there is a chapter on different breads made without yeast. As the introduction to the chapter says: ‘If time is tight and you’ve forgotten to go shopping, then this is the chapter for you’.

Stevens’ entry about roti bread, a daily staple in India and Nepal, immediately caught my eye. All I needed was flour, water and salt! I quickly followed his instructions and prepared some lovely rotis to serve with our pumpkin soup.

My husband was really impressed when I told him how quick and easy the rotis were to make. Forgetting to buy bread that day turned out to be blessing in disguise. Since then, I welcome any excuse (I’ve found that rotis are just wonderful with homemade hummus!) to make these wonderful unleavened loaves. Here is my recipe (with thanks to  Daniel Stevens of course!) for making them.

Ingredients for 6

  • 100 grams strong brown or wholemeal flour
  • A small pinch of salt
  • 60mL water
  • Melted butter or olive oil (optional)

Utensils

  • A rolling pin
  • A mixing bowl
  • A frying pan
  • A warm tea towel
  • Tongs to flip bread over
  • A pastry brush (optional)

Method

  1. Mix the flour, salt and water together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Knead mixture until a smooth dough is obtained.
  3. Divide dough into six balls.
  4. On a clean working surface dusted with flour, roll each ball into a thin circle with a diameter of about 15 cm. Use rolling pin if necessary.
  5. Lay first roti in a pan when it is hot.
  6. Allow roti to cook in pan for about half a minute. Bubbles should start to appear at this point.
  7. Flip the roti over when it is slightly browned and has a few dark spots.
  8. Cook on the other side for another 30 seconds. The bubbles should get bigger.
  9. Flip roti again and the roti should puff up again.
  10. If you want your roti to have more colour, flip it over a couple more times.
  11. Remove roti from pan and brush with melted butter or olive oil (optional).
  12. Keep roti in a warm tea towel while you cook the rest of your batch. Once they are all ready, serve immediately.

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