Most Indian breads are simple, unleavened, and made every day. Yamini Joshi, a Mumbai-born cook at the League of Kitchens in New York City, includes this nutty, whole wheat flatbread in her daily repertoire. The dough can be mixed in advance and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (bring it to room temperature before rolling it out into roti), and the bread can be eaten alone or repurposed to make any number of layered or filled Indian flatbreads, called parathas.
To get this dough to properly puff and brown, you must use a gas flame. You can find chapati or atta flour—a finely ground whole wheat flour made from hard durum wheat—at Indian markets or online.
No oven, no yeast, and no mixer required—just tasty, tender carbs good for sopping up all kinds of curry
What You Will Need
- 3 3⁄4 cups atta (chapati) flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. corn oil or canola oil, plus more for shaping
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- Melted ghee, for brushing
In a medium bowl, use your hands to combine the flour, oil, and salt. Add 1 cup water and mix, pinching and kneading the dough as you work. Add an additional ¼ cup of water and continue to knead and turn the dough in the bowl, scraping up the loose flour from the sides and bottom. Continue until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. (If the dough seems dry, add up to ¼ cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well between each addition.)
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Rub a bit of oil on your hands, and roll each piece into a log, about 2 inches thick. Pinch off golf ball-sized pieces, about 1 ¼ ounce each, and roll each into a ball. Cover the balls with a dish towel and set aside.
Fill a small bowl with atta flour, then lightly dust a chakla or countertop with more flour. Working with one ball of dough at a time, flatten the ball into a thick disc. Dredge the disk of dough in the bowl of flour, then use a belan or rolling pin to roll the ball into a disc about 6-6 ½ inches in diameter.
Meanwhile, heat a tava or a medium nonstick or cast iron dry skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When the pan is very hot, place one roti in the skillet. When you see small white spots form on the surface of the dough, about 45 seconds, use tongs or your fingers to flip, then cook on the remaining side until it bubbles a little and light brown spots form, 20-30 seconds more.
Remove the roti from the pan and place it directly over the gas flame; let cook until it puffs and swells, then, using tongs, quickly flip it back and forth for a few seconds to continue puffing and getting brown spots all over.
Transfer the roti to a serving dish and immediately brush one or both sides with ghee. Cover with a clean kitchen towel while you continue rolling and cooking the rest of the roti in this manner. Serve warm.