Basic Roti & Paratha
Makes 4 large flatbreads about 8 inches in diameter
Learn to make easy, fast roti and paratha at home and change your diner entirely; fast flat breads can be made during the span of a curry or stew bubbling on the stovetop and make a simple meal into simply amazing. Look for fine whole grain atta flour (sometimes labeled chappati flour) in Indian groceries for authentic tasting breads, or if in a pinch a blend of whole wheat pastry and all purpose flour can step in.
Roti is traditionally a very lean bread, but you can enhance it with a little oil at home. Conversely, paratha can be a very rich bread, loaded with lots of tasty fat that makes them such a popular choice when dining out. At home though you can take it easy with the oil and still using a simple coiling technique get satisfying results; will they taste as decadent as your favorite Indian take out? Maybe not, but they will be damned tasty all the same.
For extra rich results replace oil with a melted high quality vegan butter such as Earth Balance.
1 1/4 cups chappatti (atta) flour
OR 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour AND ½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
⅔ cup warm water
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional oil for brushing paratha
additional flour for dusting
In a bowl stir together flour and salt, then pour in warm water and oil. If you’re making roti, you can either skip the oil all together or up to 2 tablespoons for additional richness. For paratha, add all 4 tablespoons oil. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir everything together to form a soft dough; if the dough is too dry dribble in extra warm water one tablespoon at a time, if too wet sprinkle in a little extra flour. Now use your hands to knead the dough until smooth; this can be done in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 balls and remove from the bowl and pour a teaspoon of vegetable oil into the bowl. Place the dough balls in the bowl, roll on the bottom to coat with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rest for at least 30 minutes.
When you’re ready to roll out your roti or paratha, start heating the largest cast iron skillet or griddle you have over medium high heat. Have handy a large clean tea towel. Or if you have a tortilla warmer, that’s even better! Serve either breads piping hot, if possible as soon as they’re off the griddle.
For simple roti:
Lightly dust work surface with flour and roll a piece of dough into a very thin circle about 10 inches wide. To effectively roll a neat circle, rotate the dough with every stroke of the rolling pin and occasionally flip it over. Sprinkle the circle with a little additional flour if it starts to stick to the rolling pin. Cook bread on a 12 inch ungreased cast iron skillet heated over high heat and cooking on each side until bubbles begin to form in the dough and the edges appear dry. Wrap hot roti in a large clean tea towel to keep soft and warm; this is essential as roti will harden as it cools.
For basic paratha:
Lightly dust work surface with flour and roll a piece of dough into a very thin circle about 10 inches wide. Brush with a little oil, roll into a tight tube and roll the tube into a snail-like spiral. Roll out the spiral, brush with oil again and repeat coiling and rolling out once more. Cook bread on a 12 inch generously oiled cast iron skillet heated over high heat, and cooking on each side until bubbles begin to form in the dough and the edges appear dry. Flip only once; a few dark marks on the dough is fine, even desirable. Wrap hot paratha in a large clean tea towel to keep soft and warm.