43. India/Fiji – Roti bread

I recently had a lovely mid-winter break in Fiji, and while I was there I spent an afternoon at the Flavours of Fiji Cooking School learning to make a selection of traditional Fijian and Fijian Indian dishes. It was so much fun, but the huge revelation of the day for me, was how easy it is to make roti and how great it tastes straight out of the pan. I will NEVER buy it again now I know how to do it!

The amazing array of produce we cooked with at the Flavours of Fiji cooking school.
The amazing array of produce we cooked with at the Flavours of Fiji cooking school.

Roti is a flatbread generally consumed on the Indian sub-continent, but also South East Asia, parts of the Caribbean, South Africa and of course Fiji. Roti is an unleavened bread, whereas naan bread contains yeast.

I certainly didn’t know it only contained 3 ingredients and that is was so basic to make. In Fiji it is traditionally cooked on a tawa (flat frying pan), but any frypan will do. Next time you’re cooking up a curry, give it a go!

 Roti

2 cups white flour

Hot water (enough to make a dough)

1 teaspoon oil (optional)

1. Put the flour in a large bowl and add hot water a little at a time, mix with a fork until you have a soft dough. Knead for 6-8 minutes until it is smooth. Add a teaspoon of oil if it is sticking to your palm and continue kneading for a minute more.

2. Heat a tawa or any cast iron frying pan. Divide the dough into 8 (for large roti) or 12 (for small) and roll into balls depending on the size you want.

3. Lightly sprinkle a board with flour and roll out the first dough ball until it is about 6-8 inches in diameter. Gently pick it up into the palm of your hand and slap it onto the freshly greased hot tawa or frypan. Let it cook on a low heat for about a minute. Flip it over with a spatula.

Roti cooking on a tawa (traditional Fijian frypan)
Roti cooking on a tawa (traditional Fijian frypan)

4. Let it cook for a further minute making sure that roti is not sticking to the tawa/frypan. Move around roti on the tawa/frypan gently to prevent it from sticking. After a minute or two flip the roti again. Cook for a further minute. This time the roti may puff up.

5. Take off the tawa/frypan after a minute. Transfer to a large napkin. Fold napkin over the roti to keep it soft. Continue cooking other rotis in the same fashion until all are done and keep piling cooked rotis one on top of the other in the same napkin.

Folded roti, ready to devour!
Folded roti, ready to devour!
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