I am a total bowl-foodie. It’s not an exaggeration to say that pretty well every night, J and I eat dinner from a bowl. Of course, if I was cooking roasts and pork chops this wouldn’t be the case. But I have never cooked either and, well, I don’t really plan too. Instead we eat risotto, stir-fries, pasta, curry, rice bowls and vegetable stews. These are the types of meals I grew up with, and have consequently brought into our marriage. J was more of a meat and three veg kind of guy, but a few years of eating with my family, he quickly became accustomed to bowl food. Just give him a good piece of bread to soak it up and he’s more than happy!
Our hands-down favorite bowl food soaker-upper (what, that’s not a word?) is fresh, homemade roti – the most simple recipe I have come across, and by far the most used. This recipe was passed on to me by my dear friend at my kitchen tea party years ago and it has proved itself on regular occasions and in all forms – homemade crackers, tortillas, taco shells, canapé bases. We ensure we always have a stack of roti in the freezer, and do not hesitate to whip these up for curry nights, or as tortilla shells for tomorrow’s lunch. This is the same recipe we (normally) use for freezer burritos – we just make them much larger to contain the rice and refried beans. Less than twenty minutes from start to finish. Give them a go and watch El Paso go out of business.
Tips for homemade roti
- Use boiling water. It melts the butter and creates soft malleable dough.
- Do not overhandle. Knead gently to bring the mixture together. It should be soft without being tacky. Add more water or flour as necessary.
- After mixing, roll out and cook immediately. The dough balls that patiently wait for their turn under the pin will need to be covered with a teatowel to prevent drying out.
- Lightly flour the bench but avoid overflouring. Ensuring the dough isn’t too sticky before rolling means you won’t be piling flour up on the outside, which leads to crispy roti (and burnt flour on the pan).
- Crank the pan up hot! You want the roti on there for a short burst to brown the outside and keep the inside soft. We favor our cast iron pan and get it almost to the point of smoking before cooking the first roti.
- Start pressing the roti with a teatowel soon after it hits the pan. Press firmly meanwhile turning the roti in the pan, allowing the steam to rise up around the point of pressure and create bubbles. If you get one big burnt patch, you are pressing in the same place for too long!
- These can be made a couple of hours in advance as they keep well if wrapped in a teatowel to stay warm. Leftovers keep well in the freezer. Just defrost them and reheat in a hot pan for a few minutes each side.
Note: Yes, I am using a baking-spray can to roll my roti. You too could use a baking-spray can. But a rolling pin is preferable, if you are so lucky. I will be on the prowl for one at yard sales this coming summer. Yep they have yard sales in Norman Wells.