Hello Friends! As promised, here is Part 2 of the Pakistani Roti series: Making the Dough. Here are a few points I’d like to stress before we begin:
- FLOUR. I mentioned in the introduction that one of the setbacks we encountered was finding a good substitute for Atta flour, the very fine whole wheat flour traditionally used to make roti. While we could have bought Atta flour at the Indian grocery store nearby, it was somehow never convenient to lug the 20-pound flour bag on the mile-long walk home from the Indian grocery store. To accommodate the coarser whole wheat flour found in the United States, we mixed half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour to create a more tender but still nutritious roti.
- KNEADING. When I began making roti, I thought I’d save time and throw the dough in the Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook instead of kneading by hand. I do not recommend this because kneading by hand allows you to learn what the dough is supposed to feel like and whether it needs more flour or water. Plus, it’s kind of fun to just stand there and knead away at a ball of dough for 10 minutes!
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
¾ – 1 cup warm water (you might not use all of it)
A drizzle of olive oil
A strong pair of hands (har har! but seriously, if you have wrist problems, you might consider pawning the kneading off to someone else)
Make the Roti Dough
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the whole wheat and all-purpose flours.
- Add the salt.
- Mix together with your hands.
- Make a well in the center of the flour using your fingers. Gradually pour ¼ cup of the warm water into the flour. Using a circular motion, incorporate some of the flour surrounding the water into the water. You’ll soon have a very soft, small ball of dough sitting in the flour. Notice how soft the dough feels, this is what you want your finished to feel like.
- Add ¼ cup more water, use the same method as above to mix the water into dough. The dough will feel really sticky, but don’t worry, there’s still a lot of flour to incorporate.
- Repeat with ¼ more cup of water (you should be up to ¾ cup of water). You may want to turn the dough out onto the counter at this point to finish incorporating the rest of the flour. Add more water as needed to make a soft dough. I used about 7/8 cup of water for 2 cups of flour.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes. No shortcuts here, not even the Kitchen Aid mixer dough hook. It is important to learn the feel of the dough, thereby judging whether you need to add more flour or water. Don’t be shy—if the dough gets too sticky, just add a little more water and vice versa. That said, I usually err on the side of a stickier dough.
- After 10 whole minutes of kneading, gather your dough into a smooth ball.
- Next, place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter. Wet your hands with olive oil, pick up the dough ball and smooth the olive oil all over the surface of the bread dough. Place the bread dough on the plastic wrap sheet, wash your hands and wrap the dough in the plastic wrap sheet and place in the refrigerator overnight. I haven’t played with minimum times for letting the dough sit, but I know the roti are significantly better if left in the fridge overnight. This works nicely because I like to mix up a batch of dough before bed and then we have roti dough available for breakfast, lunch or dinner—whenever we need it.