Sunday, February 8, 2009

Besan roti (Indian chickpea flour bread)

This must be the simplest and easiest bread I've ever made. I was a bit worried about the fact that no salt is used in this recipe, but the chickpea and whole wheat flours add enough flavor to make up for that, and the bread is a great and quick-to-make accompaniment to a meal, especially a spicy one!

This bread is unleavened and is made by rolling the dough into thin discs and heating them quickly on a griddle. Because the baking is so fast, I recommend baking the roti immediately before serving them - you can keep the finished bread discs warm by putting them on a plate covered with a clean cloth.

200 g whole wheat flour
200 g chickpea flour
A spoonful of oil or ghee if you have it (optional).

You can use more or less flour, depending on how many roti you want - this recipe makes 8-10.

Combine the whole wheat flour and chickpea flour in a bowl, making sure to mix the two flours together thoroughly. Add the oil/ghee to the mixture if using, and then slowly pour in the water, mixing until you get a slightly sticky dough.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough will not become as resistant as more standard bread doughs, but it will firm up a bit as you go. After kneading, place the dough in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let the dough sit in a warm, non-drafty place for at least half an hour.*

After the dough has rested, divide it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball just a bit smaller than a golf ball.

Roll out the balls into thin discs, and then heat a griddle over the stove until it is hot enough that a drop of water will skip across its surface.

Place the first disc onto the griddle. As soon as it starts to bubble on top, flip it over with a spatula, and let it cook on the other side. The cooking times are very short - about a minute for the first side and just 15 seconds or so for the second side.

Remove the roti from the griddle, place on a plate and cover with a cloth. Repeat the process to cook the rest of the roti, stacking them up on the plate as you finish.

Serve warm with some good Indian food (or whatever your choice of cuisine is)!

*Most of the recipes I saw gave 30 minutes as the resting time for the dough, but I think this is the time needed in an Indian climate. If you live in an area without such a warm climate, you will likely need to let the dough rise a bit longer - an hour should be fine.

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