To begin is easy, to persist is art. —German Proverb
I’ve been delving into the world of sourdough bread baking lately. Not for the want of putting an end to my reliance on my local baker, but simply out of personal curiosity. To date, I’ve had more failures than successes but there are two things that keep me going. First, bread-making failures can easily be turned into croutons. Secondly, I know very well what an art form making something that looks as easy as flatbread is; I imagine the same can be said for sourdough bread. I make roti without measuring ingredients; the dough just comes together by eye and instinct and in much the same way, I roll out the rotis without much thought or plan, just an innate feeling in my hands that know what to do, where to apply pressure, where to stop rolling, where to begin again. It’s all learned behaviour. I imagine the art of sourdough entails the same little learned nuances, so I plod on, knowing that with practice, patience and persistence, I will learn this age-old art that is new to me.
When friends who have no experience in making flatbread, express an interest in learning to make roti, I always steer them away from the traditional roti recipe and ask them to start with easier flatbread recipes, namely tortilla, pita or the recipe of this post, my samosa pastry recipe. You can make samosas with it or you can just roll out the dough into flatbreads and cook the flatbread in a skillet. The dough is easier to work with, the cooking process is easier and even when they are imperfectly made, they make for a perfect snack to eat on their own, all the while giving one the experience to take on the age-old art of roti-making.
(yields 12-13 flatbread)
- 225 g white whole wheat flour, plus additional for rolling
- 60 g semolina (also known as sooji or rawa), medium grade
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds or cumin powder (optional)
- 50 g yogurt
- 40 g ghee or olive oil, plus additional for cooking (optional)
- approximately 130 g hot water
- Mix flour, semolina, salt and cumin (if using) in a medium-size dough bowl.
- Mix in ghee (or oil) and yogurt.
- Add most of the the water and blend to form a dough. Add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time as required. The final dough should be soft but not sticky.
- Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 12-13 balls and flatten.
- Roll out each roti on a lightly floured surface. (If using dough to make samosa, avoid using additional flour when rolling.)
- In the meantime, place a cast iron skillet on medium heat and allow it to heat up.
- Place roti, one at a time, on the skillet. You may lightly brush surface with ghee or oil before placing on the skillet, likewise, brush the top surface before flipping over.
- Cook each side until slightly browned, about 1.5 minutes each side.