Roti (pronounced roh-tee) is the most popular sort of unleavened bread in the Indian subcontinent.
Summer time brings in the fresh greens, giving us the chance not only to spice up the plain flat breads that forms an integral part of an Indian meal, but also to make it more wholesome and complete. I love chard. I have incorporated the red Swiss Chards here with the whole wheat along with some spices to make these rotis.
There are lot of side kicks to the Indian unleavened breads, some of them having different names in different regions. To name a few:
Parathas/Parantha/Parotta:Layered and flaky flat bread, sometimes stuffed and oil/ghee is used most of the time. There are different kinds with different ways to layer them.
Dosti Roti: Two rotis cooked in layers together in a skillet.
Batiya/Batia: Rustic, crusty layered flat bread, sometimes spiced and topped with butter or ghee. Usually eaten in the north western parts of India.
Puri/Poori: Deep fried puffed breads.
Luchi: Deep fried puffed breads, similar to puri, but made with enriched flour/maida instead of whole wheat. Luchi usually comes in a lighter shade than puri and is popular in the eastern regions of India.
Bhakri/Dhebra: Usually made from coarse cereal flour, giving the bread a stiff crusty texture; considered as rustic and popular in the western regions of India.
Poli: Stuffed flat bread. This is popular in the western and south western region of the country. The stuffing could be sweetened.
Missi Roti: Made with whole wheat flour, chickpea flour, and various spices. These breads are cooked in a similar way that I have done mine. Usually conusmed in the northern and northwestern parts of India. (courtsey Spice of Spicebuds)
Pathiri: Bread made of rice flour and probably the very different from all the above mentioned. It is also called a pancake, though it is cooked on a griddle the same way roti is cooked. Pathiri is a local cuisine of the Muslims in Kerala – a Southern State in India. After it is cooked, the bread is sometimes soaked in coconut milk to keep it soft and also to improve the flavors. There are different variations of pathiri, where they are fried or stuffed. (courtsey Sweatha of CurryLeaf)
Roti: In the most basic form, roti is usually made from wheat flour/atta and cooked over an iron griddle/tawa on the stove top. The roti happens to be the staple accompaniment with most curries (dry or with gravies) in most states across India. As the culture varies in the different states, the preparation of the roti varies too, as does the name by which it is called. In the northern parts of India, the roti may be called phulka (Pronounced- Fool – ka); they are half cooked on the griddle and then puffed directly on the fire. In the other parts the roti goes by other names as chapati, rotli etc. The making of roti would allow a lot of variations, from mixing different flours together, using spices or greens along with the flour. While most of the times no oil/fat is used to make the roti, it is not uncommon in some places to use a little bit of ghee or cooking oil in the skillet when cooking the rotis.
Personally if I use any kind of fat while cooking the Roti, it makes me call it Paratha more than a Roti, but again Paratha has layer. I did use some oil/ghee to cook the chard Rotis, and have not layered them. The dough can be layered and made in to parathas as well, if you have enough time.
If you know about any other regional kind of Indian flat breads, let me know and I will add it to the list with due credit.
Garlic Chard Roti/Flat bread
- 6-8 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 3 cups finely chopped chard
- 2 cups whole wheat flour + more for rolling and dusting
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon red chili powder/or cayenne/or red chili flakes (or as per taste)
- water (about 1/2 cup)
- oil, to fry the parathas
- 2 teaspoons garam masala (optional)
Combine all the above ingredients in a big bowl . Combine while pressing gently. The chard and the garlic will release some water and the dough will get sticky. Add water to it in little quantities till you can gather everything together to form a bread like dough.
Using your hands make a dough, which would be soft but not sticky. Adjust the amount of water if it gets too dry and crumbly (add more) and add more flour if it tends to get too sticky. You will need to knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8-10 portions and roll them between the palms of your hands into spheres. Gently press them down to slightly flatten them.
Dust each portion with some wheat flour and roll them out into circles with a rolling pin. If they stick, dust the flattened rotis with more flour. You might have some trouble as the dough contains the greens and the spices. Do not fret if they are not perfect circles. It will taste the same when finally done.
Heat an iron skillet/tawa. If you do not have an iron skillet make the best use of your non stick pan. Gently pick up the rolled bread and place it on the hot skillet. Cook for a minute and flip it over with a spatula. Each side should have tiny brown spots .
Spray /drizzle one teaspoon of oil on each side and cook the bread while gently pressing down on them. They will get slightly crisp and dark with more brown spots on them.
Wrap the cooked rotis in a towel and store them in air tight containers.
They are the best when served immediately, but if you need to reheat them, you can wrap them tightly with a foil and warm them in the oven, or place them in ziploc bags, let the air out of the bag, seal it and heat them for about 30 seconds to a minute (depending on the microwave). Serve immediately and do not expose all of them to the air – which means serve them one at a time and keep the rest zipped in the bag till ready to use.
Serve with raita (spiced yogurt) or any curry dish.
Note that Roti features a prominent place in the West Indian cuisine too, esp. Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname.