Rotli is a soft, thin, unleavened chapatti bread, traditionally used instead of a fork to pick up curry, dhal, pickles or anything else you happen to be eating
Rotlis are cooked in two stages – first they are sealed in a medium hot pan or tawa, then they are puffed up directly over the heat source. I puff them up over a gas flame; however, if you don’t have gas, you can cook the rotli on a round mesh screen with a handle (the type designed to stop fat spitting when you’re frying), heated on an electric hob, or you can put them into the microwave for 10–20 seconds on a low setting.
Serves 4 (makes 16)
300g chapatti flour, plus extra for flouring and rolling
50ml sunflower oil
butter for greasing
Put the flour into a large bowl, add the oil and 300ml of boiling water, and mix with a spoon until the dough starts to come together and has cooled enough to start using your hands. Knead for at least 2–3 minutes. The more you work the dough, the softer and fluffier the rotlis will be. The dough will be quite sticky, so gently smooth the surface with lightly oiled hands, wrap in clingfilm and set aside until you are ready to make the rotli.
Divide the dough into 16 roughly equal pieces, then form them into balls between your palms and squash to flatten slightly. Put a flat tawa pan or a flat-based non-stick frying pan over a very low heat to warm while you roll the first rotli (tawa are traditionally very thick, so they take a while to heat up).
Dust a dough ball with chapatti flour (not too much or it will burn), then place it on a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a thin circular disc, about 19–20cm in diameter. If you find that the dough sticks to the work surface, sprinkle a little more flour underneath.
Increase the heat under the pan to medium, shake any excess flour off the rotli and place in the pan. After a minute or so it will start to bubble, cooking the outer layer and sealing it. Turn to seal the other side.
Remove the pan from the heat, increase the gas to high and use tongs to lay the rotli straight on the gas ring. As soon as it has puffed up, remove from the heat, place on kitchen paper and smear with a little butter to grease the surface and stop the next rotli from sticking to it. Repeat the rolling, sealing and puffing process until all the rotlis are cooked and stacked on top of each other. If you are making them in advance of serving, wrap them in foil to stop them drying out. Serve while still warm, or allow to cool and reheat in the pan for a minute or two over a medium heat before serving.
Rotlis can be served with pretty much any meal, but they go particularly well with renghan reveya, renghan bataka, wattana and flower, sukhu bhinda bataka, makai or paneer masala. Any leftover rotlis can be stored in an airtight container (once they’ve cooled) and reheated in the tawa or frying pan the next day.
Alternatively you can use any them to make vagareli rotli for lunch or a light supper.
• This recipe is taken from Prashad: Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Kaushy Patel (Hodder & Stoughton, £25). Order a copy for £20 from the Guardian bookshop
via Life and style: Indian food and drink | guardian.co.uk http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/oct/26/rotli-traditional-indian-puffed-flatbread-recipe