Is Making Roti Stressful?

>> Saturday, 28 April 2007

Here in the Caribbean when we talk about roti, we refer primarily to three types: paratha (oil roti, buss-up-shut), sada roti or dhal puri. For more, see Chennette's Musings on roti.

Several weeks ago, a regular reader of my column asked me to tell her how to make roti. I thought that I'd send her an email with a recipe, clearly outlining the steps I learnt from the women in my family. However, for the past few weeks, I've noticed some my fellow Dining Hall members commenting on various blogs about getting their parathas rolled perfectly round. I learnt also that their parathas (a wide variety) are different from what we refer to as a paratha roti. It has and continues to be such a joyful, delicious education.

One of the things that struck me is that we all shared the drama of getting the paratha roti rolled round. I particularly liked Coffee's suggestion, "Roll a huge chapati then take any round thing which can work as your template, put it on the chapati, and make indentations, remove the excess dough from the side. What you get is a perfect round chapati!!!!!!!"

Where was this brilliant idea back when I was struggling to roll the roti round?!

So this week in my column, I share with you my trials and experiences of making roti. You will laugh and perhaps identify with some of my frustrations or enthusiasm of making roti.

Go on, read the column. Be sure to come back and share your roti-making experiences.

For my demonstrated step-by-step roti-making process, click here.

This is one of the dishes, I made to eat with my paratha roti - sauteed pumpkin with onions, garlic, thyme, pepper, salt and a pinch to sugar to bring out the sweetness of the pumpkin. Enjoy.

Recipe - Paratha/Oil Roti

Yield: 10


  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons oil plus additional oil for oiling and cooking roti
  • Water to knead dough


  • In a large bowl, thoroughly combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar
  • Drizzle oil in flour and incorporate
  • Add water and knead dough
  • Lightly rub the dough with oil so as not to form a dry film
  • Cover dough and let rest for at least 30 minutes
  • Knead rested dough for about a minute and then cut into small pieces – like the size of a small orange
  • Form into a round disk and roll dough – at this stage the shape does not matter
  • Brush the rolled dough with oil
  • Using a knife or spoon, cut the dough from the center to the end and roll the dough to make a cone-cup shape 
  • Insert the loose end of the dough into the bottom where all the layers are visible
  • Placing the dough on a surface, use your index finger and push in the pointed top of the dough
  • Set oiled dough aside and repeat until all the cut dough is rolled and oiled
  • Cover with a damp cloth to prevent dry film on dough. You can dab the dough with a little oil and cover with plastic if you prefer
  • Let oiled dough rest for at least 30 minutes
  • Heat tawah – medium low
  • Form a round disk of oiled dough
  • Roll into a round circle – turn at 90-degree angles and turn the dough over as you do so (rolling into a circle will take practice so if you can’t get it that way, just concentrate on the cooking.)
  • Place rolled dough on tawah and cook roti (it’s almost like toasting)
  • When you think the first side is cooked, (it should puff up) turn it and brush with oil, do the same for the other side
  • Remove roti from tawah and clap it. 3 quick claps will do.
  • Fold roti and place in basket covered and continue making the other rotis until done
  • Serve hot or at room temperature with your favourite curry or vegetables or with just a dab of butter

Click here for demonstration

All you have to remember is the ratio of baking powder to flour, ¼ tsp baking powder to 1 cup flour. Add the other ingredients using your judgement based on this recipe.

Leafy paratha roti


Simple Pleasures

>> Saturday, 21 April 2007

We're excited about trying new recipes and different ways of making food, yet one thing remains true - we are looking for simplicity and simplicitiy comes in the form of the ingredients, the method of preparation, and more importantly the limited time it takes to prepare these dishes.

The simple pleasures I talk about in my column this week refer not to the new, simple and easy-to-prepare dishes I have learnt (I'd need more than one newspaper page for that) :) but rather to the simple foods and things about food that I enjoy.

I invite you to read the column and come back to this virtual dining table and share some of your simple food pleasures.

Green-plantain chips are such a treat - crisp, savoury and can't-stop-till-it's-all-gone. At school we would buy and eat these daily. They make for a nice appetizer. A must-have on games night, movie night or anytime!

Cream soda with milk and ice. My aunt introduced to me this as a child. She'd take me to see matinee shows and when we returned to her house, she'd make this for me to have with a tennis roll and cheese. I'd sip it little by little because I never wanted it to finish. Then I'd suck on the ice for any remants of the drink. (lol)

Snow cone! Everyday the snow cone man passes in front of my house, honking his horn :) But I don't eat it everyday. Only now and then. Ice and syrup - quite an indulgence. Long ago these used to be served in a pointed, paper-like cup but these days they come in plastic cups.


Vegetable Fried Rice

>> Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Vegetable fried rice

Ingredients clockwise: diced carrots, garlic, diced sweet peppers, ginger, diced long string beans, green onions

A regular reader of my column wrote asking me what I put in my fried rice when I make it so I thought that I'd share that information with the rest of you also. There are various types of fried rice and that is indicative of what you put in it - eggs, chicken, pork etc. I usually make a vegetable fried rice and serve it with some baked or roasted meat or poultry.

Please let me set the record straight that I am no expert at making fried rice. This is my interpretation of the dish.

Fried Rice

2 cups long grain white rice, steamed
1 cup of finely chopped long beans (bora) or sweet greens peas
1 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup of diced sweet peppers (optional)
1 tbsp grated ginger (use more if you like)
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Dark soy sauce
5-spice powder
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Green onions, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Once the rice is cooked, it needs to be cooled completely. Spread it out on a large baking sheet to cool.
  2. Cooking fried rice is a very fast activity so ensure that all the ingredients are minced, diced, chopped at the ready.
  3. In a karahi or wok, heat the oil until it's hot but not smoking.
  4. Throw in the aromatics - ginger and garlic followed by the carrots and beans (or peas) stir fry for 1 - 2 mins
  5. Lightly season with soy sauce, black pepper and a sprinkle of five-spice powder
  6. Add sweet peppers, rice, soy sauce to season and colour the rice, and a few dashes (shakes) of the five spice powder and mix the ingredients together.
  7. Taste the dish for seasoning, you may need to add some salt and more black pepper.
  8. Once the rice and vegetables are well mixed, the dish is done.
  9. Serve garnished with chopped green onions (scallions, eshallots) sprinkled on top.


Coming full circle

>> Saturday, 14 April 2007

It is ironic that in this week's column the topic is about my love for rice but my blog post is about something made with flour. (You'll understand the irony when you read the column.) This post is about something that my mom used to make for us all the time but I never liked as a child. Fast forward years later, and this turns out to be one of those things I get a craving for every now and then, besides, it's so easy to make.

In her musings on roti, last week, Chennette mentioned that her grand mother would usually make an egg roti for her mom "... was really like a pancake, with nutmeg and cinnamon etc." Her mom's egg roti reminded me of the sweet roti my mom used to make for us which was similar, like a pancake also. Mom calls it chotah (not sure of the spelling). It is made with flour, an egg, cinnamon, sugar and water. The sweet roti or chotah is soft and light. I like mine hot with a dab of butter that melts. With a cup of tea, this is such a filling treat. See recipe below.

Sweet Roti

Yields 6

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar (you can put 3 if you like)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Enough water to form batter (some people use milk instead of water)


  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • Make a well in the center and stir in lightly beaten egg and enough water to form a batter - pouring consistency (but not watery).

If you are using a tawah, you will need to lightly rub the surface with some vegetable oil.

  • Heat the tawah or pan to medium.
  • Using a ladle, dip some of the batter and pour in the middle of the pan. Using the bottom of the ladle, gently spread the batter to form a circle. When the surface is covered with bubbles, it is time to turn the roti, using a spatula.
  • As you flip the roti, it may end up to the side of the pan - leave it, don't try to move it, it will cook just fine. You can gently press the edges if you like.
  • Within a minute, the other side should be cooked.
  • Remove and repeat the process until the batter is finished.


Annatto Seeds, Achiote Oil

>> Saturday, 7 April 2007

One day on campus I noticed a tree bearing this fruit that looked familiar. Somewhere in the recess of my mind I recalled my mother having this strange looking thing in the kitchen and using it to add colour to a stew she was making. Sure enough, it was indeed an Annatto tree. Read more about it, here, here and here. I couldn't believe that no one else around me was grabbing at the tree laden with Annatto to make the precious achiote oil and achiote paste that is so prevalent in Mexican, Latin and some Caribbean cuisines.

This is the annatto fruit, the spikes are not as sharp as they look, they are soft to the touch. It blossoms in bunches as shown above.

This is the fruit cut open with the annatto seeds clustered like grapes.

Annatto seeds

Achiote Oil. The colour is a rich brick red. The recipe can be found at any of the links above; although they suggest using olive oil, any vegetable oil can work. I used Canola oil

This is to give you an idea of what the colour of the oil is like

I use my achiote oil to cook with like regular oil when I am looking for some colour and flavour. I also use it for stews and other dishes that call for some sort of colouring. Here I used it to cook some eggs.


Mangoes, pepper & salt

>> Monday, 2 April 2007

As children, my sister and I used to love to eat green mangoes with pepper and salt. These days I can't seem to absorb so much of the acid from the green mangoes but I looooove ripe mangoes. Recently I bought some half-ripe mangoes, pounded hot chillies and coarse sea salt, mixed them together and oh man, it was so good! The sweetness of the mango was heightened and constrasted pleasurably with the salt. The pepper offered lingering notes of heat.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template by 2009 Modified by Cynthia Nelson

Back to TOP