Let me be very candid here - I have lived in the USA for most of, if not all my adult life, and never really got into making Indian flatbreads - rotis/chapatis/parathas/phulkas - at home, until we had children. Before the munchkins showed up, most of our breads were store-bought and pretty decent. Most Indian Stores carry a good selection of Indian breads and 'Deep' brand is my favorite. However, I am really glad I morphed that habit and started making rotis fresh at home. It takes a small amount of time and effort; but the payoff is huge. The smell, the texture, the taste, not to mention you know the ingredients - flour, water, salt, and sometimes, as you will see here, some *interesting* additions. But all 100% good for you.
My mother is the Iron-Chef of battle 'Roti', but I think its fair to say that I am not too shabby *now*. When I first started my roti making adventures, I was extremely frustrated. They tasted fine, its just that they were a far cry from the round fluffy ones I aspired to produce. I would be caught dead before I served them to company. So Dear Hubby and I sure had many an opportunity to carbo-load. I quickly realized that the 'practice makes perfect' mantra was absolutely true for making rotis. You just have to pay your dues before you are rewarded.
So, anyway about a year or so ago, I came across an Avocado Chapati recipe at one of my favorite Indian vegetarian blogs, Mahanandi. I was intrigued and had to give it a shot. Well, I did and ever since this has been one of my favorite roti recipes. I have adapted it a bit as you will see below.
My kids love all rotis, but this one is a particular favorite. Dr. Seuss made Green Eggs and Ham famous; here is a homage in the form of Green Roti. No wonder it is a hit with the boys!
One question I get asked a lot is - which flour do you use for Indian flatbreads? Let me try to answer this to the best of my abilities. Indian flatbread flour (Atta) is made from a type of wheat called Durum Wheat, which is the hardest wheat varietal (highest protein content). If you want more information on types of flours, click here. I would strongly recommend purchasing Atta from your nearest Indian grocery store if you really want to get into making Indian flatbreads, and be able to replicate the taste and texture you might be accustomed to. But, if you want to give a try and are not committed to buying a 5 or 10 pound bag of Atta, you can make do with Whole Wheat Pastry flour. The results are passable, though not great. So caveat emptor. There, I have absolved myself of all responsibility :-)
If you do find yourself making a trek to your nearest Indian grocery store, you will encounter many different brands of Atta. Don't expect much help from the store clerks, because there are loyal customers for each of these brands. I particularly like 'Sujatha' (General Mills) brand. It is 100% whole wheat stoneground flour, and I have been very pleased with it. Many folks like 'Golden Temple' brand, but I don't care for it. It has too much refined wheat flour aka Maida for my taste. It really comes down to a matter of personal preference.
(Adapted from Mahanandi's Avocado Chapati recipe)
2 cups Atta (Indian stoneground whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup atta (for rolling out the rotis)
1 tsp salt
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water
Dough: Mix flour, salt, turmeric, and chili powder in a large bowl. Add avocado and incorporate the avocado into the flour using your fingers. Add water, a little at a time and mix till the dough comes together. I cannot really tell you how much water you will need exactly. It depends on the flour, how ripe the avocado is, etc. But the key is that the dough should be soft but not too sticky.
Knead the dough gently a few times. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest 15 - 30 minutes.
Making Rotis: Preheat a heavy skillet/tava or a cast-iron pan (I use my Le Creuset cast-iron skillet). Knead the dough for a few minutes till it is very soft and pliable. If the dough is too sticky, dust with some flour while kneading.
Divide the dough into 8 to 10 portions. Take one portion, roll it into a smooth ball between your palms. Flatten out the ball, dust lightly with flour, and roll it into a thin circle approximately 6 inches in diameter.
Transfer the rolled out dough onto the dry skillet. Cook till you see small bubbles appear. Flip to the other side. You can continue to cook the roti on tke skillet, but I like to finish cooking the roti directly on the flame. Transfer the roti onto the flame (on the burner next to the skillet). If all goes well, the roti should fluff up like a balloon.
Continue with same process until all the dough is used up. I have done this enough that I have a continuous assembly-line going and I can whip up 8 - 10 rotis in 15 minutes. If it takes you longer, don't despair. If I could learn to do it, so can you!
To make it super-delish, add a dollop of butter or ghee on the roti. Store wrapped in a tea towel until ready to eat (even better if you're not the cook, eat immediately).
Serve with your choice of dal, curry, sabji, or if you're like my little one, R, eat it like a burrito with honey inside. His favorite treat!
We had ours with Spinach-Toor dal and Cabbage-Bell Pepper sabji. I will post recipes for these soon.