Every culture has their bread. Roti is ours.
Roti, or Chapati, is an unleavened flatbread (or griddle bread) from the South Asian Culture. Though naan serves as the blank canvas with which we scoop up curries in Indian and Pakistani restaurants, we typically eat rotis at home. Naan is reserved for dinner parties or for serving special dishes such as nihari.
Rotis are made of a type of whole wheat flour called atta and are cooked on a round, cast-iron griddle, called a tava. Ideally, rotis are only cooked partly on the tava, and then the tava is removed, the roti is flipped and put directly on a flame. The heat puffs it up and cooks the inside as well.
But you won’t need to for this recipe. You can easily make the dough in a couple of minutes for these!
I’ve experimented with gluten-free rotis, and I’m glad I tried making them solely with buckwheat flour.
Buckwheat flour is nutrient-rich and easier to work with than other gluten-free flours. Buckwheat rotis are surprisingly pliable and offer a distinct, robust taste that complements many curries well, like my smoked eggplant curry. They can also be eaten alone or with jam, honey, or anything else roti or parathas can be eaten with. I even had success with them rolled up as a wrap (with a little breakage 😉). (Note: for a softer, more pliable gluten-free roti, check out my Life-Changing Quinoa Flour Roti recipe)
Some tips to make them happen:
- The amount of water or milk you add can be tricky, but it will depend on the brand of flour you have. Try to add it in small amounts so that the dough does not become sticky, but remains elastic and smooth.
- Without a doubt, it’s much easier to make rotis with traditional atta. Atta retains its shape while you pull and tug, roll out and flip-flop the atta between your hands. It all becomes a bit more complicated sans gluten. Don’t worry if you don’t achieve a perfectly round shape. Achieving the round shape with gluten-filled atta is hard enough, so buckwheat rotis need a little more leeway.
- If you were making regular atta rotis, you would allow the kneaded dough to rest so that the gluten can develop. You may let buckwheat dough rest, and it may make it a little easier to roll them out, but in my opinion, it’s not necessary.
Gluten-Free Buckwheat Flour Roti
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup or less warm water or milk
- 1/8 tsp salt optional
- oil or butter for brushing
- rice flour or other gluten-free flour to dust the work surface
In a medium bowl, combine the buckwheat flour and salt (if using). Add the warm water or milk, a little at a time, while continuing to mix the flour with your hands. Make sure the liquid is well absorbed before adding more. Mix and knead until a soft and elastic dough forms. You do not need to knead this dough excessively as you would for traditional rotis.
Heat a tava, griddle or non-stick (preferably cast iron) skillet to medium heat. You may need to lower the heat when you start making the rotis.
Flour your surface with gluten-free flour. Form the dough into small balls (a bit larger than golf-ball sized), then use a rolling pin to roll them out into round circles about 6 inches in diameter. Turn using a spatula and flour them as needed.
Using a large spatula, carefully lift the rolled out roti and place it on the skillet. Let it cook for about 30 seconds, then flip and smear it with a bit of oil or butter. Let this cook for 15-20 seconds then flip again, adding more oil or butter, if desired. Flip a couple more times, while pressing gently, until the roti is completely cooked. Clean the pan with a slightly damp tissue and remove from heat or lower the heat if needed. If you have a gas stove, you can try using the direct heat to let it puff up. Serve immediately.