Roti Part 2: Making the Dough

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!
flours and salt

The ingredients for making roti are simple: all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt (and a little olive oil!).

whole wheat and all-purpose flour

1. Put 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup all-purpose flour into a bowl.


2. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix together with your hands.


3. Measure 1 cup of warm water.

4. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in about 1/4 cup of the warm water.



5. Using a circular motion, begin incorporating the flour into the water. You should have a very soft, sticky dough beginning to form.

shaggy dough

6. Continue mixing water into the flour in 1/4-cup incrememnts. At about 3/4 cup water, start paying close attention to how much water the dough needs in order to be soft but not sticky.

7. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead in any flour that was sticking to the bowl or hasn't been incorporated.

8. Once the flour is incorporated, begin timing the kneading. You're going to be doing this for 10 minutes, so gear up! If the dough is sticky, add more flour as necessary.

This is the dough after 5 minutes of kneading. Notice how much smoother it is than in the previous photo. Still have 5 minutes to go, though!

And this is the dough after 10 minutes of kneading. It is soft, smooth, pliable and so much fun to roll in your hands.

9. Place the kneaded dough on a sheet of plastic wrap. Drizzle some olive oil in your hands and smooth it over the surface of the dough.

10. Wash your hands and wrap the dough in the plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight or until you're ready to use it. Congrats! You've made your first batch of roti dough.

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

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the whole wheat and all-purpose flours.
  2. Add the salt.
  3. Mix together with your hands.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. After 10 whole minutes of kneading, gather your dough into a smooth ball.
  9. 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.

One Thought on “Roti Part 2: Making the Dough

  1. Pakistani roti sounds delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

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