This is my little take on the art of roti-making, the South African Way. I never made much rotis in my life but that had to suddenly change when I married my husband. My rotis were not all that bad, was still very edible but not those soft rotis that the more skilled cooks make. I grew up in a South Indian home, the word South Indian doesn’t feature much in our South African vocabulary. In our home rice was a staple in our diet and with the North Indian community it was mainly roti, therefore they’ve perfected the skill.
At first I was going crazy trying to perfect rotis but my husband soon got used to the idea of eating less than perfect rotis. He didn’t really have a choice as he knew if he kept complaining he would face my wrath, OMG I sound like Cruella de Vil, I’m not that bad. After all we are still married almost 11 years.
Roti making is a skill that can only be perfected with much practice and using the right techniques. There are recipes for rotis, I have a recipe too but no recipe can get you that perfect roti. Trust me I know.
So I called my mum-in-law, maybe only for the 100th time, asking her what’s her secret to getting that perfect roti. After all, who better to ask, than someone who has only been making rotis for over 40 years. I’ve never seen her make a bad roti, whereas my bad roti days superseded my good roti days. After taking her advice I did make the perfect roti, the best I ever made. So you can do it too, with these simple little tips.
1. Always pour your boiling water, I say boiling as the water still needs to be bubbling in that kettle, into the flour. The mistake I made previously was pouring my water into a measuring cup and then transferring it into the flour. Trust me, even this small step makes all the difference.
2.Pour enough water into the flour, you will see almost all of your flour will be covered with water, it will be moist but not drowning in water. For every cup of flour you use about half a cup of water. If you are an accomplished cook you will be able to judge when pouring. Another trick is to boil only a cup of water for every 2 cups of flour and pour this straight out the kettle. At first, mix the dough with a spoon and then use your hands. The water will be really hot so you will burn your hands if you use them immediately after pouring in the water.
3.You can use oil or butter in the dough, or just oil or just butter. Ensure that your butter is melted
4.You don’t have to knead your dough for too long, a few minutes will do. As long as you have a soft, smooth dough this will work
5.Another important rule, do not leave your dough to stand and loiter about, make your rotis immediately , allowing air into your dough doesn’t help. Working with speed does
6. If you want perfectly round rotis then start with a perfectly smooth, round ball. Do not roll out your dough too thin, think tortilla. Should be almost as thick as that
7.Dust your surface with a little flour when rolling out your dough, do not drown your dough in flour
8.Your pan or thawa must be hot, medium heat should be good. If your pan is cold you this will result in hard rotis
9.Brush your rotis with melted butter when turning them on the pan
10.Cover your rotis, after cooking each one, use a clean kitchen towel or paper towels
I do hope these little tips and tricks helps you in your next roti making venture and a great curry to go with the perfect roti is Gadra (Borlotti) Bean Curry