Play That Funky Music, White Boy

My buddy Tim is from the Mid-West with origins that trace back to the Dutch Settlers (we’re talking centuries here). Yet, anything but Midwest comes out of his kitchen.  Last week Bollywood tunes were cranked high as Tim was rolling out ‘roti’ (Indian flat bread) to go with my sister-in-law’s chicken curry. Rotis are something I myself buy from the ethnic grocery store or wait until my mom comes over to the US and makes them. It rarely occurs to me to make them myself.

Cooking on the skillet

His recipe veered from the traditional ingredient list and the typical circular shape and took on silhouettes of Africa, Iceland and every other country on the map yet the taste was still great! Soft and fluffy as they should be and far superior as an accompaniment to curry than rice ever can be….

Voila, the bread

He makes this look easy…which i guess it really is when you know how!

Tips on roti making:

1) Let it go! They don’t have to be round

2) The dough texture should be like pizza dough

3) Chill out and let it rest. Gives the gluten a chance to relax leaving you with nice and fluffy rotis

4) Hot Skillet – Yes, we’re talking solid heat – this will avoid it sticking to the pan. If you don’t have a skillet, use a heavy weight frying pan

5) Dust up – Flour the flat surface where you will be rolling these out as well as the rolling pin. However, brush off the excess flour from the roti before it goes on to the skillet

Recipe For Flat Bread


500g All purpose flour plus a little extra for dusting

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

500g plain yoghurt


1) Put all the ingredients in the food processor. Pulse until the dough comes together like a shaggy mass. If it’s sticky, sprinkle more flour and mix

2) Turn out the dough on a flat surface sprinkled with flour. Knead until it is smooth and like pizza dough (if it’s sticky, add more flour)

3) Divide in to 12 balls

4) Dust a rolling pin with flour then roll the pieces of dough no thicker than a 2 stacked quarters

5) Heat a skillet. Dust off each flat bread and place on the hot skillet. Cook on each side for 2 minutes until brown spots appear and it becomes a little inflated. Remove and brush with olive oil or butter

Saira Malhotra, is of British–Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: www.passportpantry.com where she shares approachable and international recipes

6 Responses to “Play That Funky Music, White Boy”

  1. Sanjay says:

    This really brought a smile to my face today….

  2. Melissa says:

    Wow! I never would have thought that yoghurt could be an ingredient in Roti?! This white boy is onto something…. so simple and yet such a key staple to a curry dish. Fresh Roti and spicy curry will put a smile on the face of every dinner party guest. Thanks Saira!

  3. Sheri Van Dyk says:

    I’m Tim’s mom. He started out helping me make homemade bread, but he has certainly surpassed me since I still stick to basic Dutch recipes. We are proud of him!

  4. Kim Lucar says:

    Who would have known those Dutch baking skills would transcend into Indian cooking! Congrats!

  5. Nadia says:

    Thanks so much for the great article and the recipe! I usually ‘cheat’ and buy Indian bread frozen, but now I can try making it myself :)

  6. Romana E. says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe with us, I have been wondering for a long time how to make these and wanted to have homemade ones.

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