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Roti, West Indian style

Updated on January 25, 2012

Aah, i am passionate about Roti. It is a West Indian flat bread that is derived from it's East Indian relative, only difference, at least for me is the yellow split peas that are added to my favorite version of the quick and easy flat bread. They are very much like tortillas and other flat breads.

Like most breads, they should always accompany something savory and tasty, the same goes for Roti, they balance out a great meal and are typically better with curries and heavy sauces.

Rotis are great for sopping up gravies and sauces.

I love my Rotis stuffed, particularly with a great curry. It doesn't matter what type of curry, it could be vegetarian, chicken, or goat. For that matter it could be what ever you choose to curry.

But for me the best part is having Roti to dip into the sauce or fill with the curry. This is what i call a blissful taste of heaven.

There are several versions, normally plain but still good. These are only a few.

  • Sada
  • Paratha
  • Dosti

My favorite Roti is the version that is very much like the simple ones except for the ground peas that are rolled out into the layer of flour, then cooked. Roti is usually rolled out thin, making it more pliable.

This version of Roti, stuffed with partial boiled yellow split peas, is known as Dhalpuri. It is a simple split pea recipe seasoned with cumin.

* Dhalpuri: A roti with a stuffing of ground yellow split peas, cumin (geera), garlic, and pepper. The split peas are boiled until they are al dente and then ground in a mill. The cumin is toasted until black and also ground. The stuffing is pushed into the roti dough, and sealed. When rolled flat, the filling is distributed within the roti. It is cooked on the tava and rubbed with oil for ease of cooking. This is the most popular roti. Another version of this is aloopuri, which is made from potatoes.

Roti is typically cooked on what is known as a tava or tawah. A tava is a flat pan especially made for frying or cooking flat breads. But a griddle or large frying pan can also be used.

The great thing about Roti is that it can be eaten as a vegetarian dish or it can be combined with meats and turned into a great hand held or wrapped meal.

Typically, when you ask for Roti it is assumed you want it like any West Indian would want it - stuffed as a nice rolled packaged meal. But Roti the flat bread is known as the Roti skin, the flour based flat bread enjoyed at savory meals.

Dhal Recipe


  • 1 1/2 cup of split peas
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tbsp minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

What to do

  1. Boil peas - half cooked, parboiled or al dente
  2. Strain, cool and grind to fine consistency, using a blender or hand and pestle
  3. Mix in all the other ingredients, set aside

The Dhal, as the split pea mixture is known, is added to the balls of Roti dough. The dough is flattened in center and a tablespoon is added. The dough is resealed and rounded, then re rolled into a ball, then left to rest again, until time to roll out into the flat discs and cooked.

There are lots of variations on Roti or Roti skin and typically to me the simplest recipe is the best for any meal, so basic is always best, then you can fiddle with the recipe however you feel inclined.

Typically the difference in a basic Roti recipe is the fact that it is soft and pliable, and lends itself to everyday meals, since it is known to be unleavened and practically healthy. It can and should be enjoyed especially with curry or other heavy sauced meals.

Roti recipe


  • 2 cups of flour, Whole wheat or Chapati
  • 1/2 tsp salt, optional
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • All purpose flour for dusting and rolling

You will need a rolling pin and flat floured surface, on which to roll out your dough once made.

What to do

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour and salt, mix
  2. Add oil, mixing until lumps of oil are gone or close to being gone
  3. Add warm water, a little at a time, until you form a ball of dough, kneading but do not overwork the dough
  4. Add a few drops of oil to smooth out the dough and coat
  5. cover the dough and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes
  6. Heat the tava or pan, add a little oil
  7. Divide the dough into golf sized rolled out balls, about 6 inches
  8. Dip balls in flour, roll out into thin circles
  9. Shake off excess flour
  10. Cook on one side for 10 to 15 seconds
  11. Flip and brown, allowing to puff up from heat
  12. Smear with ghee or clarified butter - this keeps it pliable and soft, set aside

Cook all of the Rotis and set them aside, they can be kept up to three days or even longer in the fridge.


Ghee is clarified butter.

You take solid sticks of butter and melt it down in a small pot.

This is butter that has been cooked and the top or scum has been skimmed off.

This usually takes 30 minutes to 45 minutes, on low heat. Continually removing the white stuff that rises to the top.

Always allow it to cool, then pour through a filter like cheesecloth, even a coffee filter will do, into a clean jar, so you are left with an amber colored liquid.


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