Flat breads, such as roti, chapati and naan are typically eaten with every Northern Indian meal. Roti and chapati are usually made with whole-wheat flour and naan with white flour. Naan is also typically softer and more doughy. Naan is topped with various types of seeds (white or black sesame, poppy, nigella, pumpkin or sunflower), chopped garlic, a variety of herbs, or all in any combination. All that adorns roti and chapati is perhaps a light brushing of ghee.
No special skills are needed to make this unleavened quick bread. This recipe is a combination of recipes from "Flatbreads and Flavors" by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, and "Indian Food Made Easy" by Anjum Anand. For extra assistance watch this instructional video by Manjula.
2 cups all-purpose flour or 2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted to remove flakes of bran, and more as needed
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup warm water, or more as needed
melted ghee, optional
1. In a medium size bowl, mix together flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the warm water. With one hand, mix together until the mass gathers into a dough. You may need to add a little extra water or flour to make a kneadable dough. (Flour will absorb different amounts of water, depending on its age and the humidity in the air.) Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with
plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
2. Divide the dough into 10 pieces. Roll into balls and then slightly flatten. To roll out, lightly dip a ball into flour to coat both sides. Roll out, without flipping over. Lightly flour surface, and rolling pin, as necessary to keep the bread from sticking. Roll into a thin 6-inch round. The best way is to roll in one direction, turning the dough a quarter circle at a time to achieve a round shape. If you have enough counter space, roll out each dough in the same manner, without stacking the rolled-out breads. Cover with plastic wrap, or a damp kitchen towel.
3. Heat a non-stick pan or a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot, toss a roti from one hand to the other to remove any excess flour, and place it in the pan. Turn the heat down to medium. Cook until it begins to change color, and there is a few patches of golden circles developing on the bottom - about 30 seconds. Turn the roti over, cook again for another 20-30 seconds until bubbles start to form on the surface, begin pressing along the edges lightly with a spatula. The bread should start to balloon. Gently, keep working the spatula around the circumference, so the roti continues to balloon across its entire surface.
4. Alternatively, you can puff the roti by removing the slightly browned bread and placing it directly over an open flame of a gas burner using tongs. It should puff immediately. Let it sit on the flame another few seconds until dark spots appear, and then flip so the opposite side can cook as well.
5. Remove the finished roti from the skillet or gas burner to a towel lined basket or plate. If you like, brush with melted ghee. Stack and cover the roti with the edges of the towel to keep them warm and soft. Cook the remaining breads, in the same manner, stacking the breads as they finish cooking and brushing with ghee. Roti can be reheated, wrapped in foil, in a medium oven for 5-10 minutes. Yield: 10 thin round breads