Monday, February 27, 2012

Roti- the Indian flat bread

The reason I chose to write about ‘Roti’ is that it is one of the easiest and the toughest breads to make. Let me explain that, it is pretty easy as its made fresh at each meal and more often than not the dough is made fresh too but sometimes the dough is made for a couple of meals at a time and stored in refrigerator. Dough is nothing but flour and water mixed together, no yeast, no oil, no egg, nada. Make small balls and roll it out, a couple of minutes on the tava (flat, no edge skillet) and then pouf it up on direct fire.

Although it’s part of main course of most north Indian meals at home it almost never shows up on a restaurant’s menu. I think that’s because of the fact that it needs to be made fresh and requires experienced hands….

More than a decade ago I found myself in a narrow alley kitchen on a third floor apartment building that was surrounded by 2 feet on snow all around. Although it wasn’t the snow that prevented me but it felt like I was stranded bare feet on an icy island and I couldn’t summon the courage to wade through it all and reach out to warmth.

All by myself, standing in front of a big steel plate filled with dry whole wheat flour and a pitcher of water I stood there crying. I had done it before but not really there always was mom and the maid who’d make the dough for me and also made the roti and fed me numerous times.

It just happened, appeared routinely on my plate and it happened so automatically that I forgot the route the flour must have taken and the kneads it must have meandered to become the warmth that my tongue and my soul was seeking. My fingers froze in the coldness of the water as I let it run through the fingers to the top of a mound of flour, trying very hard to recall the kneading motion required to turn that runny lump into the mass of soft dough. After consistent motion that was very unlike the usual curling of the fingers, I kneaded my heart into a stronger and yet supple dough.

It took many years to get over the turmoil of the fingers and heart and mind before I ventured again in this familiar territory, fulfilling the knead of body and mind. My mum again came to the rescue while she was visiting the island which wasn’t as icy and deserted as before and laid the steps for me to follow and now making my own roti is not a torture but joyous endeavor that I indulge in very often…

Dry Flour and pitcher of water

The dough

Dough rolled into balls

Balls rolled out into a circle

On the Tava (skillet)

Flipped over

Pouffed up on direct fire

Got a little more dark than usual, was busy taking picture;-)

Taking care of the sides

The 'Roti' is ready to be consumed....
So that's about it, a simple fresh, easy yet tough 'Roti'....

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