December 12, 2023 1 Comment
Indians do not traditionally eat naan on a regular basis. Our primary bread of choice is an unleavened flatbread called roti. It is also referred to as chapati or phulka. Did I just blow your mind? Don't get me wrong, we love naan, but it's a leavened bread (made with yeast) that is traditionally made in a tandoori oven, which folks don't have at home.
Roti at its essence is made simply with flour and water. But, here lies the problem. The flour matters - it matters a lot! Roti is made from chapati flour, which is in turn made from durum wheat. Durum wheat is one of the hardest varieties of wheat and is high in protein and gluten, which makes it excellent for making pasta and flatbread. Durum wheat for chapati flour is ground on a stone and milled to a very fine consistency, making it perfect for roti. If you have an Indian grocery store nearby, ask them to point out a good chapati flour. Just be sure that the bag says aata and not maida, which is essentially all-purpose flour. Aata refers to whole wheat flour rather than processed white flour. Much like in the West we went from white rolls at the table to slightly darker whole wheat rolls, such was the movement in India with white flour back to traditional whole wheat.
If you don't have access to chapati flour, I would suggest using 2 parts regular whole wheat flour and 1 part all-purpose flour. When I say regular whole wheat, I mean the typical whole wheat flour found in a mainstream grocer which comes from a variety of wheat that is usually darker and slightly more bitter than durum wheat. Why if you use just this flour without 'cutting' it a bit with all-purpose, your roti will turn out dark and slightly dense.
I wrote this article for the Chicago Tribune in 2019 on roti that gives you my basic recipe. Click here to read it and stay tuned for more updates to this blog post with recipes and ideas on what to do with your roti dough.
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