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Roti Recipe or Phulka Recipe, How to make Soft Rotis or Phulkas

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Roti or Phulka Recipe with step by step photos and tips.

indian bread or roti is an unleavened flat bread which 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.

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 flat bread. 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 matarbhindi 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 a roti or phulka.

if you are looking for more roti recipes then do check khasta roti, tandoori roti, makki di roti, jowar roti, sabudana roti and bajra bhakri recipe.

phulkas or rotis recipe below:

4.48 from 19 votes
roti recipe or phulka recipe

method to make roti or phulka

course: main course
cuisine: indian
author: dassana amit
ingredients (1 cup = 250 ml)
  • 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)
how to make recipe
kneading dough for rotis 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.
  4. knead the dough till it becomes pliable and soft. the final dough consistency should not be very soft or hard.
  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.
making roti on tawa:
  1. turn on the gas stove and put the tawa to make it hot.
  2. while tawa is getting hot, start rolling the dough ball into a flat round circle.
  3. once the tawa is sufficiently hot then put the roti on a hot tawa/griddle.
  4. first cook one side. it should be less than half cooked or about one-fourth cooked.
  5. turn and cook the other side. this should be a little bit more cooked than the first side. brown spots should be visible.
  6. now hold the roti with a tong and keep the first side which was cooked, directly on fire. the roti will start to puff.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. serve the soft rotis with dal or a veggie dish.


ingredients for making rotis:

3 cups whole wheat flour/atta
1 to 1.25 cups water or more if needed
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 to 2 tsp oil or ghee (optional)

how to make soft rotis or phulkas:

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 pooris. 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 help 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 rotis – 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 rotis 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 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.

16. serve the soft rotis with dals like chana dal, masoor dal, dhaba dal or a veggie dish like aloo gobi, vegetable kadai, stuffed capsicum etc. when you plan to serve rotis with dry veggie dish then its best to apply some ghee or oil to rotis while serving them. applying ghee on rotis also help in keeping the rotis soft.

rotis also go well with curries like chole, rajma, kala chana currykadai mushroom or with paneer based dishes like palak paneer, paneer butter masalakadai paneer, paneer masala, methi paneer etc.

few rips for making soft rotis or phulkas:

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.




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This post was last modified on January 9, 2018, 9:36 pm

    Categories Dinner RecipesIndian Breads & ParathasKids RecipesNorth Indian Recipes

View Comments (71)

  • Hi,

    I prepare Rotis in the same way mentioned above, but I never get rotis as soft n thin as we usually get in restaurants. Is there any way in which I can make soft rotis

    • i usually make soft and thin rotis at home. just make sure that you don't add too much of water or less water. the dough should be soft and smooth. 1 tsp of oil or ghee helps, but don't add too much.

      another way to make soft rotis is to knead the atta in hot water. add hot water to the atta. with a wooden spoon mix everything. don't put your hand at the mixture is very hot. when the mixture becomes warm then knead with your hands. you can also use warm water, but for better results hot water is better. when you make roti this way, it even stays soft when you take the rotis in the lunch box.

  • Hi
    I tried to make paratha using this recipe but kneaded dough did not have any elasticity. It wouldn't stretch at all. I used whole wheat flour (2 cups), 3/4 cups room temperature water and 1 tablespoon oil and some salt. I let it rest for about 20 minutes. The dough was so soft it would stick to the rolling pin again and again even when I apply less pressure. Can you provide a remedy? Thanks
    (The only reason I can think is that the flour was old but it was stored in an air-tight container).

    • the water become too much. you could have just added some more of the wheat flour to get rid of the stickiness. different kinds of wheat flour have different water absorbing capacities, so the quantity mentioned is just an approximate. as a rule if the dough looks dry, then 1 or 2 tbsp water or more can be added to make the dough smooth and soft. also if the dough becomes very soft and sticky, then add some more flour which will absorb the extra moisture. the dough could not stretch as there was too much water in the dough.

  • Have been trying to find a way to pre-make rotis and re-heat. Is that possible? Love to have for breakfast, but with the prep work and rest time, it takes a bit longer for people on the go or when trying to pack lunches.

    Second question is how to make so kids can have in their lunches? Won't they get soggy if you make them in the morning? Best way to wrap them for lunch...you get the idea. Thanks!

    • for pre making the rotis. just cook the rotis till they are opaque but without any spots. meaning not even half cooked, but more than 1/4th cooked. stack them up and keep them in the freezer once. when you want to make them, defrost the rotis and then roast them on the griddle with some oil or ghee till they become golden with some dark spots. i had seen one well known indian check doing this way on a tv show, so i remember. but i have never tried this method. generally rotis are supposed to be made and served hot.

      the rotis don't get soggy. in fact they can become dry and dense. for packing tiffin boxes, while kneading add hot water to the flour. mix and when the temperature is fine to handle, knead the dough. rotis made this way remain soft and do not become dry or brittle in tiffin boxes. also apply oil or ghee on the rotis as they remain soft.

      • Hi Dassana,

        i tried this method. it works and rotis are soft also after removing from freezer. but my only problem is that they dont seem to puff up like when they usually do if we coook directly. is there something wrong that im doing here?

        • try rolling evenly. and while roasting, roast on a full flame. also possible is that your are cooking the rotis too much on the tava. they just need to be half cooked. one side is about 1/4th cooker and the other side is half cooked. if they are cooked more, then they won't puff up on the tava. hope this helps.

  • Hi, I was wondering if its possible to make rotis with a different kind of flour (rice flour, chickpea, etc...)

    thank you :)

  • Thanks dear for the roti recipe......one more tip if we keep the dough after kneading for 30 minutes and sprinkle some water and knead again on clean kitchen platform the dough becomes soft and the roti too....

  • Thank you dear for all the tips and elaborate steps. You project even the minute details and thats what makes me follow you every time.

  • procedure is easily understandable.....
    my que.to u is after making roti my roti was black and party unroast.....so what i should do for making white and well roast roti....plz rpl fast.
    or what extra ingredient should i add.

    • sagar, as you mentioned black. i assume your roti has got burnt. you will have to quickly turn over when one side cooks or puff. i suggest experiment and learn. you will have to practice to get the knack of making perfect rotis. hit and trial method or see someone doing it. thats the two option you have.

  • I have tried many recipes from your blog. And they actually turn out to be very good. Finally getting my hands on kneading the dough and making roti. Thank you for simple clear pictorial steps. Love your blog :)

    • thanks a lot nandita. once you get the knack of making chapatis or rotis, it will be easy and you will be able to make soft chapatis.

  • very nice and detailed recipe .. making phulkas is also an artvnd trustbme u have given so detailed explanation thatvany beginner will nt hesitate in trying their handin making rotis ... anyway wanted to ask what paneer dish is kept near rotis .. thats tempting :P

  • Love your blog, keep up the good work! One question about rotis. We don't have gas stove and use electric stove top to cook rotis. We have tried many different styles of Tava (Cast Iron, Non-Stick, Dosa Tava etc) and each one produces slightly different level of cooked roti, often leaving it uncooked on sides. We have even tried first making it on the tava and then transferring it over a griddle. The rotis puff up but still its unevenly cooked. Any suggestions? I also suspect our Atta might be the culprit. We are using ITC's Aashirwaad atta.
    Thanks again for your time.

    • thanks ankur and sharmila. i know many people who use aashirwad atta and they have never had an issue. i guess its the belan/rolling pin or the the kneading of the atta. atta has to be kneaded very well to a soft dough. an use a rolling pin, which gives an even roll all over. try using the gujarati belan. it makes the chapati/roti roll evenly with less thickness or no thickness at the sides.

  • This is so exciting! I am going to try this for today's dinner. Wish me luck and I will surely come back with a feedback and hopefully some great news :)

  • I have not tried this recipe yet, but when I make rotis I like to cook them all part-way first and stack them up. Then I can cook them over the flame very quickly so even the first one is still warm when I serve them.

    • thankyou david for sharing your tips and suggestion surely try this phulka recipe and let us know your views :)

  • I will love if you could send me some recips on my email, I will like to try Indian food and cookthem myself. Please start with simple things.

  • Hi.
    Thanks for the great recipes, they're the closest to what I used to eat when living in India :)
    Back home in Canada, I find it hard to make roti on the electric ceramic stovetops we have, they often end up getting overcooked. Any tips? Thanks :)

    • Nadia, I have some suggestions. I'm Canadian too but not Indian. I was taught how to make rotis 40 years ago and make them frequently. I've made them on a wood cookstove, as well as gas and electric so I think I can help.

      It might take a few tries till you find the right heat setting for the burner to cook rotis. Unfortunately even with electric, each stove can be a little different.

      Look carefully at Dassana's photos to know when you should flip sides. On the first part, you should see 'little bumps' start appearing on the yet uncooked side. It's due to tiny pockets of steam forming pushing up these little bumps. At this point, you should flip over the roti.

      When this second side cooks enough, you'll see steam rising from underneath (and for me, mixed with some smoke from trace amounts of flour as I prefer to use an unoiled griddle). Lift the edge to make sure it's cooked enough (I prefer to see spots of light and a bit darker brown showing on this side). I now flip it back to the first side and as the roti heats up, it will start to puff from the steam inside. I use a spatula to gently push the puff toward the unpuffed part to force the to puff it there too.

      Experiment with a few rotis in the beginning to find what heat setting is best on your stove. You might over or under cook the first few. IMPORTANT: When you find the right setting, take note what number it is. After that, always use that number and MAKE SURE you put your empty pan on it for maybe 3-4 minutes first to properly heat up. I assume you're using a cast iron pan and it needs a short time to heat up. I truly hope you find this helpful!

      • thanks a lot jude for this detailed comment with so many handy tips and suggestions. its for sure going to help jude and other readers as well who have electric stove tops. thanks again.

    • thanks nadia. since i have never used any electric ceramic stovetops, i have no idea on tips that can stop the rotis from getting overdone. so i am unable to help you in this regard.

  • Hi Dassana,

    Every time I make rotis, they are super soft when I keep them covered in a casserole or between plates. But the moment I transfer let's say, 3 rotis to my plate and start eating, the third roti becomes little hard and tough to chew by the time I finish the first two. Do you know why this is happening? Is there something wrong with the way I make the dough or roti? Any tip would be great!

    By the way, I love your posts and have tried out many of your recipes and they've always turned out yummy.:)

    • ranjani, the rotis turning hard depends on the type of flour used and how well the roti is kneaded. roti dough should be nicely soft but not sticky. usually i add water in parts and knead very well. so the rotis i prepare stay soft. also try adding some oil or ghee in the dough. you can add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon. adding oil or ghee makes the roti soft and even keeps them soft after some time. also you can knead the roti in hot water. just add some hot water to the dough. mix with a spoon. cover the pan and let the mixture become warm. then knead the dough. this way also the roti dough become soft.

  • Hi Dassana, I've subscribed to your recipe blog so you may see my comments from time to time now. Your advice to keep practicing is very important for anyone starting. I hope you don't mind me telling how I make rotis?

    I first started 40 years ago and while my rotis tasted good, they definitely weren't nice and round, and didn't puff up. Now they're very nice and I've taught friends who like Indian food how to make them. One of my sons even had me come to his place to teach him while he watched and helped!

    I rarely use recipes to make meals and even desserts since I'm 67 and have been cooking on my own since I was 18. I don't use a recipe for rotis either as I've made them so often.

    One suggestion I have for anyone wishing to have more protein in their diet is to add some soy flour to the recipe. Many years ago, I read an article by an Indian professor who said it boosted the protein content as it helped balance the amino acid profile of regular wheat flour. Since I already used soy flour in making other kinds of bread, it made sense to me.

    I live near Vancouver, Canada where there are many different ethnicities and cultures. All atta flour here says on the ingredient list, only white flour and added bran. So I mix my own roti flour. The proportion I use are (roughly) 2 parts whole wheat flour, 2 parts white flour, 1 part soy flour, 1 part wheat germ (what I buy always contains some bran) and I usually add 1-2 tablespoons of 80% gluten flour to it, plus salt - no oil or ghee. I don't use very warm water and after kneading, I cover the dough and let it sit 30 or so minutes.

    It might seem a lot of bother but I guarantee the rotis will gave a wonderful flavour! The soy flour and wheat germ seems to add a richer taste, just very slightly nutty. Now I could never go back to plain whole wheat rotis. Not everyone would want to try this but all of my friends, both Indian and other ethnicities, all love them.

    • of course not jude. you can share and write your method. on occasions i also make a mixed flour roti (we call these in india as multi grain roti) with various millet flours and whole wheat flour. these sure are healthy. soy flour is a good healthy addition. here in india, its difficult to get non gmo and organic soy flour. so i do not use soy flour. but the quality of atta that we get here is good enough to make rotis. the whole wheat grains which are chakki ground (stone ground) have bran naturally in them. so we do not add extra bran. but i think when using store brought atta, addition of bran is good and should be done. after seeing your proportions and ingredients of chapati atta, i need to give a try to soy flour.

  • Hi Dassana...can you plz tell me...How many rotis made in 3 cups of flour...(normal size roti...not small or too big).. as you made in above pictures...yours is perfect size..

  • I've tried what is suggested here- kneading the dough with hot water and kneading it well. I've also added some oil in the dough. Another thing is that i cook just for my self so making 3-4 rotis at the time is not really efficient hence i tried pre-cooking them and freezing them.
    I was surprised how well it worked! Rotis are no different than freshly made, they puff up and are soft.
    While pre-cooking, have them just for 10 seconds on each side, or even less. I counted from 1 to 10 and then turned them on other side and it was good enough!

    Great recipes Dassana! Keep up the good work:)

    • When you take them from the freezer, do you let them thaw and finish them on the grill stovetop just before serving? Also, how many does this recipe make?

    • thanks a lot luka. i loved the idea of pre cooking them and then freezing. sure a time saver on busy days. thanks for sharing. i will also give a try. thanks again.

  • I have tried many of your recipes,they turned out awesome.
    I am very bad in making chapatis,will try this recipe and let you know..,😃Hope it works this time..

  • So glad I found your website! I have good friends from India who have taught me some Indian cooking. I need recipes and practice though.... I followed you on facebook. If you send out emails with recipes or updates I would like to receive them by email please. Thank you!

    • Welcome Heidi. Glad to know this. We don't have a regular email service. However we share latest recipe on facebook with some old recipes.

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