Indian bread or roti is an unleavened flatbread that is made in almost every part of India. My home is also not an exception. Roti, sabzi (a dry vegetable dish) and dal are regular staple dishes at home. Rotis are also served with a vegetable or paneer (cottage cheese) curry.
These rotis or flat breads are made from whole wheat flour and water. Ghee and salt may or may not be added. I add some salt and ghee to the dough. The whole wheat flour which is used in making these Indian breads are hard to semi hard wheat durum wheat. The wheat is finely ground. This wheat flour is called as “atta”.
The same flat bread is called roti or phulka in different regions of India. These breads can be made thin or of medium thickness. In some regions like Gujarat, the phulkas are made very thin. I know this as I have hands on experience of savoring these kind of phulkas from a Gujarati colleague. I usually make thin to medium thickness phulkas.
Difference between phulka and Chapati
Phulka is a hindi word, which means to puff. The roti gets puffed up when exposed to dry heat like that of the a direct flame and puffs up. This puffing up can be achieved on a direct flame and also on the tava itself. A tava is concave flat pan to make the rotis. Whereas I call these phulkas, hubby calls them rotis.
A chapati is a slightly different kind of flatbread. the word “chapati” is derived from a Marathi word “chapat” which means “flat”. Instead of rolling the chapatis were flattened by hand. Of course, its time consuming to flatten the chapati by the palms in today’s times. So nowadays a rolling pin is used. A chapati can be also thin or medium rolled.
Chapati is also made on a tava and can puff or partly puff (pic below). Oil is used while roasting the chapatis on the tava. There is a version of chapati made in Maharashtra called as ‘poli’. Where the rolled dough is layered with oil/ghee and folded thrice. Then rolled again finally – much like the way we make parathas in north India.
The phulka can be smeared with or without ghee or oil. In my home, we do apply ghee on the roti while serving it with a veggie dish like aloo gobi, aloo matar, bhindi masala, lauki kofta or with dals like dal fry, dal tadka, dal makhani.
As the rotis are made from whole wheat flour so they are healthy and easy to digest. Here in this post, I will explain the basic method of making roti or phulka.
Ingredients for making roti:
- 3 cups whole wheat flour/atta
- 1 to 1.25 cups water or more if needed
- ½ to ¾ tsp salt (optional)
- 1 to 2 tsp oil or ghee (optional)
How to make roti or phulka
1. Take whole wheat flour/atta in a bowl. Seive the whole wheat flour with salt. Add a bit of water and ghee and start mixing.
2. Adding some water to the dough in parts, begin to knead the dough.
3. Continue to knead the dough. keep on adding water as required. If you add all the water at once then the flour will become too sticky to handle. Also you need to knock down the dough with your fist while kneading. Gluten strands have to be formed. If gluten strands are not formed then it will be difficult to roll the rotis.
At the final stage of kneading the dough, some people also prefer to throw the dough from approx 1-2 feet height to the bowl while kneading. This helps in making the dough soft. But I prefer to apply pressure from my fist. In the pic below you can see the hand posture which is used to knead the dough.
4. Keep on kneading till the dough becomes pliable and soft. the final dough consistency should not be very soft or hard. The dough for rotis is more soft than the dough kneaded for Poori. after kneading the dough, it is advisable to cover it with a plate or cloth and keep it aside for 20 to 30 minutes. Although you can make the rotis straight away after kneading the dough but this 30 minute waiting period helps.
You can also use kitchenaid or roti maker appliances to knead the dough. I also use kitchenaid stand mixer to make the dough and it works really well. Many roti maker gadgets knead the dough well but till now there is not a good gadget which helps in puffing the rotis.
5. Now make small to medium balls of the dough. Roll the balls in the palms of your hands.
6. Flatten the ball. Sprinkle some whole wheat flour to the dough ball. Alternatively, you can also dust the rolling board with flour.
7. Turn on the gas stove and put the tawa to make it hot. The tawa has to be sufficiently hot to make soft rotis. I generally make rotis on a high flame. On sim or low flame, the rotis become hard and on a very high flame they cook too fast. So regulate the temperature while making the rotis.
So how do find out that tawa is hot enough to make roti – back home, we sprinkle little whole wheat flour in tawa or griddle and if it becomes dark quickly then the tawa is ready to make rotis.
8. While tawa is getting hot, start rolling the dough ball into a flat round circle.
9. Keep on rolling till you get a circle as shown in the below pic. Making the round rotis is not easy and with practice you will be able to roll them round. Sprinkle some wheat flour if the dough begins to stretch or become sticky while rolling.
The trick to roll round roti is that when you are rolling the dough then the roti should also be moving in circular direction.
Also make sure that the rotis are not thick as they take much time to cook and also not easy to puff up and digest.
10. Now put the roti on a hot tawa/griddle.
11. first cook one side. It should be less than half cooked or about one-fourth cooked as shown in the pic below.
12. Turn and cook the other side. This should be a little bit more cooked than the first side. Brown spots should be visible. The pic below shows the roti ready to put on fire.
13. Now hold the roti with a tong and keep the first side which was cooked, directly on fire. The roti will start to puff.
14. Turn and keep the other side on fire. The roti will puff more. Avoid burning the rotis and also don’t overdo it as roti will not be soft and will become crisp and hard like papads.
15. Remove and apply ghee on the roti. Applying ghee or oil keeps them soft for a long time. Roti made with this method is ideally served hot. If you cannot serve them hot, then you can keep them in a container that keeps food warm like a casserole or in a roti basket. You can also wrap them up in a kitchen towel or napkin.
16. Serve the soft rotis with dals like chana dal, masoor dal or a veggie dish like aloo gobi, vegetable kadai, stuffed capsicum etc. When you plan to serve them with dry veggie dish then its best to apply some ghee or oil to rotis while serving them. Applying ghee on them also helps in keeping the rotis soft.
Few rips for making soft roti or phulka
1. I do add ghee/oil in the dough. Adding ghee or salt makes the roti soft. You can also skip adding ghee or oil. This is the basic method of making a whole wheat flour dough. This dough you can use for making stuffed Parathas like Aloo paratha, Gobi paratha, Paneer paratha.
2. It is not necessary to roast the roti directly on fire. You can also cook it on the tava or griddle. Use a heavy spoon or spatula to apply pressure on the roti while cooking on a griddle, so that the roti puffs up. Do the same on the other side. But the rotis made on fire are more soft but they should ideally be served hot. If you want to serve the rotis later and want them to store in container, then its advisable to make them on tawa.
3. The dough should be kneaded very well so that the gluten is formed. The dough should be smooth and well kneaded. If the dough is hard then rotis will not puff up. On the other hand, if the dough is very soft and sticky then you won’t be able to roll it and it will not puff up at all.
4. You have to roll the dough very well so that it is even, otherwise the roti will not puff up.
5. After kneading the dough, you can keep it aside for an hour or so and that will also help the roti to become soft.
6. Lastly, quality of each brand of whole wheat flour is different. So while making roti on tava or griddle, each flour will take little different time to cook. So you have to experiment to know the perfect timing for the flour you are using and better stick to one flour. Depending on the quality of flour, less or more amounts of water will be required.
7. After making roti, if you apply some ghee or oil then that also keeps the rotis soft.
8. Kneading the roti with hot water makes it very soft and these rotis remain soft even after hours. Best to use this method when making rotis or phulkas for tiffin box lunch. Care should be taken when mixing the hot water with the flour. Use a spoon or spatula first to mix and when the temperature is bearable knead with hands. Even kneading the rotis with milk makes soft rotis.
9. After making rotis, if some extra dough is left then keep it in fridge. Cover the dough bowl with a plate while keeping it in fridge. Although its better to use fresh kneaded dough, but this way you can use leftover dough for 1-2 days (if kept in fridge). After 1-2 days of keeping in fridge, the dough color starts becoming brown and it becomes hard and also starts smelling and thus not good for making rotis. You can give that spoiled dough to street cows to eat.
P.S. Kneading the dough well, rolling the dough and cooking it on griddle are three important steps which need to be mastered to make soft rotis. Mistake in any of these steps may lead to hard rotis or the one which are not puffed up well.
If you are looking for more Roti recipes then do check:
- 3 cups whole wheat flour or atta
- 1 to 1.25 cups water or more if needed
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1 to 2 teaspoon oil or ghee (optional)
- Take whole wheat flour/atta in a bowl. Seive the whole wheat flour with salt. Add a bit of water and ghee and start mixing.
- Adding some water to the dough in parts, begin to knead the dough.
- Continue to knead the dough. Keep on adding water as required.
- Knead the dough till it becomes pliable and soft. The final dough consistency should not be very soft or hard.
- Now make small to medium balls of the dough. Roll the balls in the palms of your hands.
- Flatten the ball. Sprinkle some whole wheat flour to the dough ball. Alternatively, you can also dust the rolling board with flour.
making roti on tawa
- Turn on the gas stove and put the tawa to make it hot.
- While tawa is getting hot, start rolling the dough ball into a flat round circle.
- Once the tawa is sufficiently hot then put the roti on a hot tawa/griddle.
- First cook one side. It should be less than half cooked or about one-fourth cooked.
- Turn and cook the other side. This should be a little bit more cooked than the first side. Brown spots should be visible.
- Now hold the roti with a tong and keep the first side which was cooked, directly on fire. The roti will start to puff.
- Turn and keep the other side on fire. The roti will puff more. Avoid burning the rotis and also don’t overdo it as roti will not be soft and will become crisp and hard like papads.
- Remove and apply ghee on the rotis. Applying ghee or oil keep them soft for a long time. Rotis made with this method is ideally served hot.
- If you cannot serve them hot, then you can keep them in a container that keeps food warm like a casserole or in a roti basket. You can also wrap them up in a kitchen towel or napkin.
- Serve the soft rotis with dal or a veggie dish.