Thursday, March 29, 2012

Paratha / Oil Roti


Devour it with curry, eat it with sides, you can even enjoy it with melted butter, but no matter how you consume it, one thing is for sure: there is nothing else like a hot and flaky paratha roti.  From the looks of these photos, it would be perfectly correct to assume that this is a staple in Guyanese cuisine.  

Paratha roti, sometimes called "oil" roti, is generally made with five ingredients, flour, salt, water, baking powder, and oil (or some other type of fat).  The oil is incorporated into the dough, rolled thinly, and then cooked on a cast iron skillet.  Since this bread is popular in Caribbean cuisine, there are many different ways to make it.  If you ask five different people from the Caribbean how they make this roti, you will surely get five varying recipes as well as techniques.  None are better than the other, they are simply just different methods of achieving your taste preference.  

I learned from my mother how to make this roti so I can only speak to her recipe and method.  Her key to making paratha roti a success does not rely so much in the quality of ingredients as it is does in the technique.  Not overly kneading the dough, allowing the dough to rest, creating enough layers for air pockets when oiling and rolling it up into dough balls, and ensuring the roti has been *clapped while hot, are the measures she uses to ensure a great paratha roti.  

*Clapping is a Guyanese term used to describe the method of releasing the air pockets from the roti.  Once the roti is done cooking, it is tossed up in the air and clapped with both hands repeatedly.  This releases the air pockets and creates flakes, but also burns your hands!  There are many different methods used today instead of "clapping," including placing the hot roti in two bowls and shaking repeatedly, I have demonstrated below how this can be done.  This method works great for protecting your hands from the heat. Thanks to Sharmila Singh for passing this tip along to us! 

My mom used to serve this roti alongside a variety of delicious curries, stews, and sauteed vegetables during the weekdays.  I remember the good and bad memories of helping my mom cook this roti.  The bad memories were of my hands being on fire after clapping the roti, while the good memories consisted of anxiously waiting for the last roti to be done cooking so I could rub some butter on it, watch it melt, and savor the simple flavors in my mouth!  Whether good or bad memories, the truth is, when I moved away from home and had to cook this roti for myself, it brought a feeling of nostalgia to me, one that always made me remember my mother's wonderful cooking and how dearly I missed it.  Here is yet another recipe that has brought me closer to home even though I am hundreds of miles away. Enjoy!   

    



Start with 2 cups of all-purpose flour.  Add baking powder and salt then sift.

Add one cup of water to knead the dough.  Knead until the dough forms a smooth ball.  Do not over knead, if the dough ball is stiff, the roti will be hard. The more you knead the more the gluten develops resulting in tough dough.   Rub some oil on the dough ball and cover with a damp paper towel, this prevents the dough ball from crusting. Let the dough sit for about 1 hour at minimum.

Prep your work area.  You will need 1/2 cup flour for dusting, 1/2 cup oil, a brush or spoon to spread the oil, and your rolling pin. 

In my home, I cook for two, so this recipe has been scaled back accordingly.  This recipe should  make exactly four pieces of roti.  Divide the dough ball into equal parts.  We are not baking here so weighing the dough is not necessary. Start with one dough ball and flatten slightly with your fingers.

Roll one dough ball to 1/8 inch thickness, brush oil, ghee, or melted vegetable shortening (such as Crisco) then begin rolling.  Rolling the dough into a log is actually where you create flakes and air pockets.

Cover the dough with a damp paper towel to keep the top from crusting.  Let the dough sit for about 1 - 2 hours before rolling. Roll each one to 1/8 inch thickness. 

Heat a skillet or tawah to medium heat.  Place roti to cook.  I am cooking the roti on a tawah, this is the traditional skillet that roti is cooked on, it is a flat cast iron skillet that transmits heat evenly.  You can use a heavy bottom pan or a pancake skillet as well. 

Once you start to see bubbles like in the first picture below, flip roti onto the other side and brush a little oil making sure to get the edges.  To ensure the roti stays soft my mother doesn't allow too many large brown patches to form while it is cooking on the tawa.  Brown patches are an indication that the roti might have been overcooked and will get slightly stiff when it cools.  The roti in these photos do have brown patches, but only because I had to stop to take photos while it was cooking.

Once roti is cooked on both sides, remove from the skillet/tawah and toss in the air and clap with your hands repeatedly.  An alternative is to place roti into a deep bowl, cover with another bowl or plate and shake vigorously. This is a wonderful tip passed along to me from Sharmila Singh who says, "Say goodbye to red sore hands!" Thank you Sharmila! 

 Roti after being shaken in the bowl. Roti must be shaken/clapped immediately after removing from the heat. 



Paratha Roti
Yield: Makes 4 roti's

**In my home, I cook for two, so this recipe has been scaled back accordingly.  This recipe should  make exactly four roti's. Double recipe for servings of 8-9. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (for a healthier option use 3/4 cup whole wheat flour + 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1/2 cup oil, melted vegetable shortening, or ghee
  • 1/2 cup flour for dusting

Directions:
  1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. 
  2. Add water a little at a time and knead into a soft smooth ball. 
  3. Rub a little oil on the top of the dough ball to prevent from crusting.  Cover with a damp paper towel. Let dough rest for minimum of one hour. 
  4. Divide dough into four equal parts. Roll each dough ball to 1/8 inch in thickness.  Brush with oil. 
  5. From one end roll dough to form a log. Take one end and circle the center, tuck end into the center.  Let dough sit for 1-2 hours, 45 minutes at minimum. 
  6. Heat tawah or cast iron skillet to medium heat.  Roll each dough ball to 1/8 inch thickness.
  7. Place roti on tawah or skillet to cook. Once roti shows bubbles, flip onto other side and brush with oil. Flip to the first side and brush with oil.  Do not allow dark brown patches to form as it will yield a stiff roti. Remove roti from heat. 
  8. Immediately place roti in a deep bowl, cover with a plate or cutting board.  Shake vigorously to release air pockets in roti. You may clap roti with your hands slightly if you prefer a more flaky roti using your bare hands or a kitchen towel.  

*When reheating in a microwave, the moisture from the roti escapes leaving your roti stiff after a few minutes. A trick I use when reheating roti the next day, is wrapping the roti in a moist to wet paper towel and then placing in the microwave.  The roti will keep it's soft texture and not get hard and crisp. If you also have a tip of how to reheat roti, please feel free to share!



27 comments:

  1. Beautiful. I'm glad I finally found measurements to use :)

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  2. Wow. This is really wonderful. I am so happy to finally see how to make this roti. I try to stay away from complicated foods like this, but you make it look so easy. I am going to try this tomorrow. My husband will be shocked. Please don't ever take this site down!

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  3. These look amazing! I have never heard of clapping for paratha! I am going to try your recipe and compare it to my mum's pakistani way of making paratha! yum! <3

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    1. Hi Nisa!

      What is the Pakistani version of this? I'd love to know. Thanks!

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  4. I stumbled upon your blog while looking for a pholourie recipe and I'm in awe! your writing and photos are fantastic! I'm a Guyanese-Canadian and I'm always trying to get my mother to write down her recipes. I don't know how to make any of my cultural foods, I just know how to eat them!

    Keep up the great work! You've inspired e to try to make roti myself instead of waiting for my mum to do it! I just need a tawah....

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    1. Thanks Stephanie! I appreciate your kind words. In regard to your tawah comment, you can actually still cook this roti on a skillet. I only recently bought a tawah, I was using a cast iron pancake skillet for years and my roti turned out just the same! Have fun and thanks for visiting :)

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  5. Can you use part wheat flour for the roti bread?

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  6. As a child, I lived in Guiana (then BG) in the sixties. I have been missing roti ever since. I have asked in every Indian restaurant I have been in and they always just bring me nan. Thrilled to see this recipe. It is exactly how Elaine used to make them and she clapped with her hands - but she used gee and sometimes added split peas or lentils (not sure) to them as she folded. I also miss a fabulous potato curry that a neighbor down the street made, oh, and Easter pancakes! Now I am remembering so many good things. Thank you!

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  7. This is soooo wonderful, we make the same thing in Tanzania but we do not use the baking powder in ours, everything else is pretty much the same, please can you explain why you use the baking powder? I will try this this weekend, baking powder and all.... Thank you!

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  8. hi there! i love your roti photos! makes me want to go home and make hot roti, with butter smeared all over it. i also like the suggestion for the alternative to clapping hot roti. I also have a suggestion: When i make roti, i keep a large, very clean towel near me. When i remove the hot roti from the tawa, i immediately place it in the towel and clap. The soft towel protects my hands from the extremely scorching roti. just make sure the towel is clean! please also check out my food site: http://tastygirl.weebly.com/index.html

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  9. hi! i love your roti photos. also love the suggestion for the alternative to clapping roti. i have another suggestion as well; i keep a big, clean towel near me when i make roti. after i remove the roti from the pan/tawa, i place it in the towel and then clap. the soft towel protects hands from the scorching, hot roti. hope you guys find that tip useful.

    check out my site all about foods too!

    http://tastygirl.weebly.com/index.html

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  10. The roti with the lentils are called dhal puree

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  11. Thank you so much for this recipe. I finally found measurements and my roti is now edible.

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  12. Can anyone translate cups into gramms or ounces please. imperial or metric. Please please please.

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    1. Hi Jenn,

      Use this site for conversions - Look at the second chart that says, "U.S. - Metric Cooking Conversions" http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001723.html

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    2. Also for reference 1 cup = 8oz. Don't go too crazy with measurements for roti since it doesn't have to be precise, just eyeball the cups using dry measuring cups if you have them.

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  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you .....for this receipt. Lived in Guyana, as a child, for 5 years and roti was my number one favorite food (with chicken curry) I treid to make roti for years and it was oke but not THE roti. I made your roti receipt and used the 2 pans to clap the roti. It was FANTASTIC! God bless you.
    ps my totally dutch daughters .....are also addicted to roti!

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  14. Hi,
    To make the healthier version, would it be 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour plus the 3/4 cup whole wheat?

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  15. Love this site! My husband works in the bronx and always talks about the delicious guyanese food he gets while he's working. I am italian and german so i don't make anything like this but am always looking for new and different. When I'm lucky he brings me home some and i love it!! He's going to be so excited after I make him some guyanese food from this site!!! Thank you thank you!!

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  16. Thanks for the recipe! I do have a question. If I want the healthier option do I use 3/4 cup of wheat flour instead or the 2 cups of flour? or is it 1 1/4 cup flour plus 3/4 cup wheat flour?

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    1. Hi Shantae,

      You are correct in your last question, it is 3/4 cup wheat flour + 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour. Using all whole wheat will make the roti tough, as whole wheat flour is heavier and tends to not allow the roti to rise or stay soft. That has been my experience at least. Hope this helps!

      Alica

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  17. I recently got married and my husband is Guyanese-American. I've come to really enjoy some Guyanese foods so I am looking forward to trying out your recipes. Very well designed website too! I just bookmarked it :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Ariel, and welcome! Hope you enjoy the recipes, do let me know if you have any questions!
      Best
      Alica

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  18. This site rocks. I am married to a white American who expected me to cook roti after he tasted my mom's. You saved my marriage. ;)
    Love
    Leguan gyal

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