Indian Food Made Easy
Vanessa Courtier

Roti (or chapatti) is a basic whole-wheat flat bread which is eaten with almost every meal in northern India. These breads are soft, puff up when cooked and, if you use a gas cooker, lightly crisp on the underside. It is the easiest dough to make and doesn’t require a bread machine. There is no real skill needed and when it comes to rolling the dough into a circle, the old adage applies – practice makes perfect. You can find chapatti flour in most large supermarkets, but you could also use equal quantities of whole-wheat and plain flour.


Quantity Ingredient
150g chapatti flour
salt, (optional)
90-110ml water


  1. Sift the flour and salt, if using, into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Slowly drizzle in most of the water and, using your hand, draw the flour into the centre, mixing all the time. You may not need all the water as flour absorbs different amounts of water depending on its age and the moisture content in the air. It should be just slightly sticky.
  2. Knead for 8–10 minutes. Then place in a bowl, cover with a damp tea-towel and leave for 30 minutes in a slightly warm area or at room temperature in the summer.
  3. Divide the dough into six equal portions and roll into golfball-sized rounds; cover. Flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll each ball into thin circles 12.5–15cm in diameter. The best way of doing this is to keep rolling in one direction, turning the dough a quarter of a circle each time to get a round shape.
  4. Heat a tava or non-stick frying pan until quite hot. Toss the roti from one hand to the other to remove any excess flour, and place in the pan. Turn the heat down to moderate and cook until small bubbles appear on the underside, about 20–30 seconds, then turn. Cook this side until the base now has small dark beige spots.
  5. The best way to puff up a cooked roti is to place it directly over an open flame (such as on a gas hob) using tongs. It will puff immediately, but leave for 3–5 seconds until dark spots appear, then turn and leave this side for a few seconds and place on a plate. Repeat with the rest. If you have an electric hob, press down gently on the cooked roti – as you press one area, the rest should puff up. Then tackle the next area – the roti should puff up all over.
  6. Keep the bread warm by wrapping in a napkin or foil and placing in a low oven while you make the rest. You can reheat the roti, wrapped, in a medium oven.
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