There’s enough bandwidth spent on describing the delicious smell of hot, fresh rotis (or chapatis or phulkas), so I’m not going to waste any time on that. We’ll take it as read that ordinary, everyday Indian flatbreads, fresh off the tawa and especially when smeared with ghee, smell divine. OK? OK.
We now come to my favourite such flatbread: the Gujarati Padwali Rotli. Traditionally, it’s eaten with aam ras, but life is short and the lockdown is long, so, having no good mangoes (I can’t have any more safeda), I just went ahead and had these rotlis with aloo wadiyan.
These rotlis get their name from the unique cooking technique, wherein two rotis are rolled out together, one layered on top of the other (“pad” in Gujarati means “layer”). The layers separate as they heat on the tawa, and you end up with two delicate, translucent rotlis that, quite frankly, can be eaten in two bites each. So, before we proceed, a warning: you might overeat, but that’s only because these rotlis will disappear down your gullet all too quickly.
2 cups – Whole wheat flour (this does not include the flour you set aside for dusting)
Lukewarm water, as needed
Any neutral-flavoured oil, as needed
Ghee, as needed
*Mix together the flour, water and 1-2 tsp of oil to make a smooth, firm dough. Coat it in a little oil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
*Break off two similar sized pieces of dough and smoothen them into balls that are roughly the size of ordinary nimboos. Roll each one out separately into small discs (don’t make them too thin). Cover the surface of one disc with oil and sprinkle some of the dusting flour.
*Then place the other disc on top of this and roll both out together into a thin rotli, as shown in the photo. Make it as thin as you can, and use a little dusting flour to keep it from sticking (my favourite hack, learnt from my mother, is to use rice flour to dust rotis, because it’s more hygroscopic than wheat flour. If you use too much, though, it will dry out your dough, so be careful).
*It may look like the two layers have flattened into one, but don’t worry. If you’ve covered that one disc with oil properly and sprinkled enough dusting flour, they should separate.
*Make sure your tawa is very hot before you place the rotli on it. You want each side to cook quickly, because if the tawa isn’t hot enough and it takes a while for the tell-tale blisters to form on the rotli, it will get brittle like papad. So as soon as blisters form on one side, flip the rotli and cook the other side. As it cooks, the layers will separate.
*Take the rotli off the tawa and carefully, making sure not to burn your fingers with the escaping steam, peel the two layers apart. Spread ghee (liberally) on each blistered side.
*This isn’t one of those rotis that can be made well ahead of time, because, given how thin it is, the layers start to dry out very quickly. So eat as soon as they’re made.
*Serve with aam ras, or any subzi of choice (why be a stick-in-the-mud at a time like this?)
[The Back Burner is a biweekly blog that will talk about all things food (with recipes, of course)]
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