Friday, August 19, 2011

A Guyanese Flatbread: Sada Roti

I remember the days when my mom would come home tired from work and still have to cook a delicious traditional meal for her family.   Whether it was cook-up rice, dhal and rice with fried fish, or chicken curry with dhal puri, we always had a filling and healthy meal during the work week.  

One particular memory that sticks out in my mind is the overwhelming feeling my mom felt when she had to make paratha/oil roti for dinner on a weeknight.  Now, if you are Guyanese and have ever made paratha roti, then you know how labor intensive it can be and can probably sympathize with my mom here.  Paratha, sometimes referred to as "oil" roti because of the oil that is rubbed in between the layers when making the dough as well as while cooking the dough, is a flaky, thin, flatbread that is served to compliment many Guyanese dishes.  It is delicate and tasty and is worth all its labor, but can be time consuming on a Wednesday night.

Sada Roti served alongside fried potatoes is a popular breakfast meal in Guyanese cuisine.  "Fry"(as most Guyanese would say),potatoes are sliced potatoes that have been sauteed with onions, pepper and dry seasonings. Unlike it's name, these potatoes are not actually "fried," but rather sauteed. 

Because my mom knew that she had to have dinner ready by a certain time and a great deal of that time would be spent making this wonderful paratha roti, she sometimes opted to make sada roti instead.  Although not as delicate as paratha roti, sada roti has it's own glory and rightfully so.  It is a hearty, rustic, and simple flat bread to make.  It can be eaten with many different side dishes and is very filling.  My dad used to spread peanut butter on his sada roti and have it with a cup of tea for breakfast.  Today I share with you my mom's sada roti recipe.  Follow this recipe exactly and you will be sure you achieve a soft and hearty sada roti.  See an alternate recipe at the end for sada roti without baking powder. 

Start with 3 cups flour, add salt and baking powder.

Add 1 1/4 cups water and knead to form a dough ball.

Cut dough ball into quarters and follow steps to form into smaller balls.

Rub some oil on the top of each dough ball and cover with a towel.  The oil will help prevent a hard crust from forming while leaving the dough to rest.

After about 30-40 minutes you will see dough ball flatten out. This is because the gluten has developed and had a chance to relax.

Flour a surface and roll each dough ball to about 7 inches in diameter.  If you like a thicker sada roti, roll it to about 5 inches in diameter which should be about 1/2 inch thickness.

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high and place roti to cook.  When it starts to form large bubbles, flip roti to cook the other side.

Roti will swell and may burst due to a concentration of steam.  If it did not swell while cooking on the tawa, place roti in microwave for about 3-4 seconds .   Continue this process for each roti. Enjoy!

Mom's Sada Roti
Yield: 4 servings

  • 3 cups flour (may substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour for healthier option)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water (add more if needed)
  • oil to rub on top of dough ball
  1. Sift 3 cups flour with baking powder and salt. 
  2. Add water a little at a time and knead to form a dough ball.
  3. Cut dough into four pieces as shown in picture above. 
  4. Take each piece and form into a smaller round dough ball. 
  5. Rub a little bit of oil on a plate and also rub a little oil on the top of each dough ball and place in plate to rest for about 45 minutes.   Cover the dough balls with a damp paper towel.
  6. Flour a surface and roll each dough ball to about 1/8 inch thickness and about 7 inch diameter.  If you like a thicker sada roti, roll dough to a 1/4 inch thickness.
  7. Heat a cast iron skillet, pan, or tawa to medium high heat.  Place dough on skillet and once you see large bubbles forming on the top, flip to cook the other side. 
  8. Roti should swell into a ball while cooking, if it doesn't, place sada roti on a plate and put into the microwave for about 3-4 seconds.   This will cause the roti to swell and create a pocket in the middle. If you own a tawa, you can cook the roti on the edge of the tawa so that the fire heats the edges and allows the roti to swell.   
  9. Serve roti hot and enjoy! 

Alternate Recipe - This recipe will guarantee your roti will "swell" every time due to the use of self-raising flour. 
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup water to knead


  1. I made this yesterday and we had it with baygan choka. It was so soft. I am embarrassed to say that whenever I make sada roti, it turns out hard, thats why I posted this as anonymous hehe! Thanks for the recipe, my husband was very happy :)

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    Glad to hear it turned out well! If your husband liked it then you know you did a great job!!

  3. What's your name and where you from, I mean
    which part. Best damn laid out recipes on the net bar none, good work, thanks.

  4. Looks really good. Ever came across a stuffed sada roti recipe?

  5. I will def. try this recipe, I too have been wanting to learn how to cook traditional Guyanese food, becasue I miss my mom's cooking. Thank you again for your wonderful recipes, I look forward to more ;-)

  6. THank you!!!! This is great! I love making all these recipes...i'm glad to have run across this

  7. I made this roti today and it came out really soft. This is the first time I have tried making sada roti in 10 years with great success! Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes. I will try my hand at making Salara this weekend. Keep them coming!

  8. any chance of adding metric or imperial measures? What is 'cups' measurement? can i use any cup?

    1. Use dry measuring cups-

      You can weigh the ingredients, but I typically don't since you don't need very precise measurements to make roti, but for reference 1 cup of all purpose flour is anywhere from 120-123grams. Hope this helps.

  9. My mom use to roll the dough for me when I visited her and then I would just come home and roll it out, but yesterday I tried this recipe and it was so fast and easy! I still have to work on my technique (I rolled it too thin), but will definitely be making this again. Thank you for sharing! I feel like i'm 10 years old again cooking with my mom when I try your recipes.

  10. Nice blog! It is exciting to see that you are blogging about our Guyanese food (I am not disciplined enough to do it).

    I wanted to share two things:

    1. My grandmother used to finish up the roti by rolling the edges over the open flame. I loved when this was done because it gave a more rustic appearance and flavor, and helped to cook the dough when the sada roti is thicker.

    2. I was comparing Indo-Guyanese and Indian food with a colleague from Mumbai last week, and mentioned sada roti. He said that "sada" means "general/generic/everyday". It made perfect sense for why this particular roti/bread would be called "sada" because it is the quickest and least labor-intensive variation.

  11. I like your recipe and will try it soon. However when I make mine I add margarine or cisco to make it soft and roll it out twice. R u saying I don't need to do this? Btw just mixed my pholourie and waiting for it to rise.

  12. Its been an hour and the dough hasn't risen yet help

    1. The dough doesn't have to rise, Darcel. It'll spread out a bit and be softer, that's all. We only want it to rise up a little when it's cooking and if it doesn't, that's when you pop it into the microwave. Good luck!

  13. How about adding yeast, I notice my mom does that..? Also, add flax seed for a healthy version.