The Perfect Roti

I think that the major challenge every girl of the Indian subcontinent faces in the kitchen is roti (flatbread). This is one food item we wish we never had to prepare. Alas, this is a wish meant never to come true. Well, I do not have anything against roti but only against the dough making process. The part of the process over the fire, whether we make roti, parantha or puri, is the easy part. The major challenge and the most crucial part is the preparation of the dough.

When I was a little girl (by little girl I mean when I was tall enough to reach the gas stove on the kitchen shelf), the first phase of my involvement of  roti making was cooking it over the fire. The trick I was taught was that, after placing the raw roti on the tawa (flat pan), let one side to half-cook, then turn it over. Let the other half be fully-cooked (press the open side with a cloth while moving it in rotary motion) and turn it over. If the dough is perfect and you are doing your part right, then the roti will be blown just like the above picture.

The second phase of my involvement was flattening the dough pieces into perfect circle (or as round as possible!) using a rolling pin. Well, well, it was more of a project of creating new countries, if you know what I mean. I am sure the ladies do! And that still happens now on bad roti days.

The final and the most crucial phase (and messy) was making the dough itself. Now this process is a science in itself. The right proportion of flour and warm water, and a little oil and salt plus the amount and way of your hand pressure can make or break your roti (literally). For many years, I evaded this phase. Ever since I started surviving on my own cooking skills, I have enjoyed home made rotis only when visiting relatives and when I am home with my folks or when my folks are over at my place. But I have realized that this system cannot go on forever. Tomorrow I would not be able to tell my husband, children or any family member, that I am sorry but I cannot prepare rotis! That will be really embarrassing. Plus, what to do when I feel like having rotis myself! Actually this part is important.

So, in my quest to preserve my future respect (as well as present), I started making roti from scratch. And amazingly, I have realized that it is only a matter of practice. I have had experience preparing from lousy, average to perfect dough. Not in the same order necessarily. Last month when I was home with my parents, I prepared the dough. It was perfect. The edges did not crack when the dough was flattened with the rolling pin. Even the raw rotis were round-shaped. I was face-saved in front of my parents and nobody had to go bed hungry. Even my father was impressed. I was so high after the experience, that I decided to that for myself also. Unfortunately, the dough sucked. It was a hard and the edges of the roti cracked. Nonetheless, I had to consume all of it.

I am planning to cook roti again sometime soon. And I am going to keep on doing it till it becomes a child’s play for me. And I am going to produce a perfect roti over and over again. Next in line will be my quest of the perfect puri and parantha. Actually, I have quite a list of quests in waiting.

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