What is a roti?
Roti is a round-shaped flatbread made with whole wheat flour, salt and water. Water is added gradually to the flour and the dough is kneaded with bare hands until it reaches the right consistency. It is then left to rise, and when the dough has risen it is rolled into small balls; each get flattened with a rolling pin into a nice even round shape.
There are different ways to prepare a roti. One way is by using a ‘tawa’ (a cast-iron flat round pan), the second is by using an open flame (usually used for a smaller roti), and the third is by using a frying pan.
Roti originated in India, where it is also referred to as ‘chapati’, but its popularity has spread throughout the world from Asia to South Africa, from South America to the Caribbean, and so on. While roti refers to the flatbread only, it is basically implied that roti is eaten with, for example, vegetables, curry potatoes, daal (Indian spiced lentils), and fish or meat.
Tips for Eating Roti:
Three ways to eat roti:
- Using your hands – ‘tear’ the roti into pieces and use it to scoop up the side dishes.
- Using a knife and fork – cut the roti into bite-size pieces before eating it.
- Stuffing the roti – fold the roti or roll it up as a wrap and then bite into it.
Personally, my preferred way to eat a roti is the ‘old-fashioned’ and trusted (insider) way: by using my hands. It is good manners (not to mention hygienic) to wash your hands before eating with them. Although you might not think it is good etiquette to eat with your hands, when it comes to roti it is in fact recommended to do so, because this way you include an extra one of your senses (touch) to the roti eating experience, besides the smell, look and taste of it. If you want to get the full experience, dig in there with your hands and eat like the locals do!
Here is a short YouTube video that shows three ladies demonstrating how they each eat a roti based on the local customs in the country where they are from.
Did you know:
- There are different types of roti. A few of them are: the plain roti (also known as sada roti), dhalpuri (roti stuffed with ground yellow split peas and spices), and aloopuri (roti stuffed with potato and spices).
- The roti puffs up like a balloon when it’s being cooked before it deflates again and returns to its round shape.
- The yellow color of the curry may stain your fingernails when you eat with your hands. This is why some people prefer to use utensils instead of their fingers.