Roti done right

Roti is a delicious bread that complementes your Indian cuisine. Roti is a flat bread. It is unleavened and not baked, but cooked on a tava - griddle - with oil. Want to make your own righteous roti? That is as easy as one, two, three. OK, maybe it will take a half-dozen or so steps. But they're all simple.


3 1⁄2 c flour (chapatti flour, 2 1/2 cups for the dough, 1 cup for dusting)
1 c water
1 t salt
1 T cooking oil (or ghee, for frying)


  1. Warm the water in a microwave for 1 minute. Add the flour to a medium-sized bowl, then pour on the water, whisking until it is doughy. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and let the dough rest for a half-hour.
  2. Now remove the dough and divide into balls of about 2 inches in diameter. Flatten them out onto a wooden bread board using the heel of your palm. For excessively sticky dough, dust the board and your hand slightly using the extra cup of chapatti flour.
  3. Traditional roti making does not use a rolling pin, the slightly uneven thickness is actually a benefit. Make the edges slightly thinner than the center.
  4. Sprinkle on the chili powder, asafoetida, and turmeric, for a more spicy and flavorful end product.
  5. Now heat the tava to medium. Pour in a small amount of oil and let it warm a minute. Slide, don't toss, the roti dough onto the tava. This prevents splashing oil onto your hands. The top will brown and bubbles will appear in the interior thanks to trapped heated air on the bottom. Excellent!
Total time
30 minutes
Cooking time
Preparation time
8 servings


Optional: some spices for flavor and color. Try red chili powder -up to 1 tsp (5 g)- a pinch of asafoetida and a pinch of turmeric.

Flip carefully, avoiding any oil splashing.

Each side should take no more than 2-3 minutes at most. Keep a sharp eye out for any burning of the edges and work the perimeter up with a spatula, if needed.

Roti, like naan, is best served warm. The 'tortilla cakes' can be covered with a large bowl for a few minutes, if necessary. Avoid keeping them under there for too long, though, since they can become soggy. The moisture inherent in air turns to steam in the hot 'cave', which moistens the roti.

Spread some ghee on the roti when you are ready to eat.


Naan is the most well known traditional Indian bread to Westerners but there is also roti. Like its more famous cousin, roti is a flat bread. But there are several key differences between the two. Roti is unleavened - i.e. it is not made with yeast and nothing is used to make the dough rise prior to baking. Also, naan is typically made in a tandoor - a hot, clay oven of the sort that is everywhere in rural Northern India. Roti, by contrast, is cooked or fried on a tava - a hot griddle - using oil.

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