kitchen firsts: roti (5 minute flatbreads)
I love my River Cottage Bread Handbook. I tend to go through obsession phases with new cookbooks and then let them fall neglected for months, but this is a book that I’ve returned to reliably over the last few months of owning it. It is a great resource for bread making– concise, clearly written, well photographed, and full of recipes for really tasty breads of all kinds. The author recommends no fancy tools (his bread/pizza peel is a board nailed to a stick), and doesn’t really advocate shortcuts or secrets, he simply shows you how to make delicious rustic bread.
When I was considering whether to buy the book or not, one of the things that really sealed the deal was the promise of a five minute bread recipe. Was this possible? Turns out it is! Enter roti, a simple, unleavened flatbread from India/Nepal that is great for scooping up puddles of stew or chasing the heat from a mouthful of spicy curry. It’s crazy easy to make – flour, water, and salt – and while I wouldn’t call it a showstopper when it comes to flavor or texture, it’s tasty in a simple way and provides some palate-relief from whatever you’re dipping it in. And for five minutes and three ingredients, I think that’s a pretty reasonable result! There’s really no excuse for not trying it– even if you’re in the middle of cooking right this minute, you could probably still whip out some roti and have it on the table before your main dish!
1 cup flour (white, whole wheat, or half and half)
generous pinch of salt
1/3 cup water
a tablespoon or two of butter, melted
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and water. Using your hands, knead the mixture until smooth. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and roll them into balls.
Place a cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium heat. While it heats up, use a rolling pin on a well-floured surface to roll the dough balls into thin circles (5-7 inches in diameter).
When the pan is hot, put the first flat bread in. Let it cook for about 30 seconds, and you’ll see a few bubbles starting to form, as well as a few lightly browned spots if your pan is good and hot. Flip it over, and you’ll see it continue to puff a bit (some of them will puff better than others). Turn a third time to ensure even browning and puffing, and when it’s browned in a few spots on each side, remove it from the pan and brush with melted butter. Repeat with the remaining roti. Keep them warm, covered by a towel, while you finish the rest, and then enjoy immediately!