For those of you who are ready to stop reading because you are intimidated by making any bread product (or am I the only one?), then let me first assure you that this recipe could not be any easier. The beauty of Indian roti is that there is no leavening involved. A little kneading, yes, but that's a piece of cake (er, roti?).
This recipe is also wonderfully simple in terms of ingredients. All you need is flour, salt, oil, and water. A note on the flour, though: I used atta flour, a whole wheat flour that makes up the base of most Indian-style breads. It should be readily available in any Indian market, but I cannot promise that you will find it in your local grocery store. That said, I think you could substitute regular whole wheat flour and do just fine.
(From Jyoti Pathak's Taste of Nepal)
1 and 1/4 cups atta flour, plus additional for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water
1. Combine flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add the olive oil and mix by hand to combine. (Don't worry if it seems that the oil just clumps and does not distribute evenly -- adding water in the next step will help).
2. Slowly add 1/2 cup of water, a little at a time, to form a dough ball. Knead the dough directly in the bowl until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. The dough should not be sticky; if it is, sprinkle additional flour on the dough and knead to incorporate.
3. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set aside for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the dough and place on a cutting board or other clean, flat surface. Knead dough for about 5 minutes until it becomes pliable.
5. Divide the dough into 8 portions, shape each into a small ball, and dust each with a bit of flour. With a rolling pin or other cylinder, flatten each dough ball into a roughly 5- to 6-inch circle that is 1/8 inch thick. (While you are rolling, cover the dough balls and flattened circles with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out).
6. Head a cast-iron skillet or a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. The pan is ready when drops of water bounce and sputter.
7. Place a circle of dough on the pan and cook until the underside forms light brown dots, about 30 seconds. Turn it over and cook on other side. Turn it over again and watch as the roti begins to puff up. When roti is lightly browned on both sides and has puffed up, it is ready. This entire process should take about 3 minutes or less.
8. Transfer cooked rotis to a covered dish.
Note: When I make rotis, I usually start the process in the late morning to make them in time for lunch. I prepare half for lunch and store the remaining dough balls in the fridge for dinner. If you choose to do the same, I would advise you to keep them covered with a damp towel and use the dough within the same day.
Below, the recipe in photos.
After combining the flour, salt, oil, and water, your dough should hold together well.
Kneading the dough for about five minutes will produce a soft, elastic ball.
Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it sit for approximately 30 minutes (or longer -- I forgot about it for an hour, and the dough was just fine).
Remove the dough and knead again for about 5 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 portions, shape each into a small ball, and dust each with a bit of flour.
Use a rolling pin -- or, in my case, a tall glass -- to flatten each dough ball into a circle that is about 1/8 inch thick.
Heat pan over medium heat and place roti circles, one at a time, in center of the pan. Check the bottom of the roti frequently, and when it begins to form light brown spots, flip it over.
Cook on other side until the bottom lightly browns. Flip again and watch as the roti begins to puff up. When the roti puffs, it is ready.
Transfer cooked rotis to a covered dish to keep them warm as you finish cooking the remaining dough.