Roti Canai (pronounced as “chanai”), also known as roti paratha, is a type of flatbread found in Malaysia. It was introduced into the country by Indian immigrants and over time became a national dish. People of all races there enjoy roti canai and it is very, very popular, eaten throughout the day. I grew up eating this delicious bread and missed it when I moved to the US. It was a joy to find the bread at the frozen section of the South Asian grocery stores. If you look carefully at my blog logo, there is a neat pile of roti canai on the lower right hand corner.
When Rachael of Lee & Low Books, a children’s book publisher, invited me to do a roti recipe and book feature on “Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji”, it put a BIG smile on my face. The title of the book resonated well with the name of my blog. Roti n Rice coupled with Hot, Hot Roti, how exciting!
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is written by F. Zia, a writer and elementary school teacher who grew up in Hyderabad, India. This is her first picture book, written as a gift to her grandchildren. What a wonderful way to share a culture and a little bit of her past with the future generations! She did a wonderful job of weaving a fable from a faraway land with contemporary suburban Western life as evident in the final part of the story.
This book is fully illustrated by Ken Min, an animation storyboard artist. The drawings are vivid and imaginative, conveying the text beautifully. They make the story come alive and keep you turning the pages for more.
The story is a heart warming one about Aneel, whose grandparents from India came to stay. Spurred by Dada-ji’s rousing tales of his roti-powered feats in his youth, Aneel was eager to find out if his grandfather still has those powers. Not being able to persuade his family to help him, he found a way to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti himself for Dada-ji. Did the roti rekindle Dada-ji’s strength? This is a fun book to read along with your little ones. Even my two teenage sons found the book entertaining.
The good people at Lee & Low Books have generously offered a copy of this book as a giveaway to one of my US readers. This book will only hit the bookshelves in May 2011. To win an early copy, please leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite childhood food. For those of you who are new here, you would make my day if you can follow me via Google Connect on my sidebar, Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, or subscribe to my RSS Feed. Thank you so much for visiting and following. This giveaway will be opened until 9:00pm central time on Thursday, April 7th, 2011. I will randomly pick a winner and the book will be sent directly to you from the publisher.
Time to bring out the tavva (Indian flat griddle)! I made my own ghee (clarified butter) for this roti as it does make a whole lot of difference to the taste, aroma, and flakiness of the bread. Ghee can also be purchased at the Indian grocery stores. You can certainly use vegetable oil if you prefer.
- 3 cups (450g) bread flour
- 1½ cups (360ml) warm water
- ½ cup (120ml) ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of flour and pour in ghee. Mix with a spatula adding water a little at a time until a soft sticky dough forms. Turn onto a lightly oiled surface and knead with oiled hands until a smooth and soft dough forms, about 5 to 7 minutes. Divide dough into 6 equal portions. With oiled hands shaped into balls. Wrap dough loosely with cling wrap and allow to rest for 4 to 5 hours.
This method is known as menyebar which means spreading. It takes a lot of practise but it is also quite fun. I ruined my first one and had to use the rolling pin method to salvage it.
Lightly oil working surface and hands with ghee. Flatten a ball of dough with your palm. Lift dough facing you with the right hand on the top and left hand on the bottom of dough. Fling dough to the left to spread it out. Do this several times until dough is very thin. Fold dough into thirds and then half lengthwise, into a rope, trapping some air if possible. Holding down one end, create a spiral with the dough, tucking the other end into the center. Repeat with the remaining dough.
This method is definitely easier but the dough will not be as thin as the flinging method. Still it was pretty good.
Lightly oil working surface and hands with ghee. Flatten a ball of dough with rolling pin and continue to roll until dough is very thin. Fold dough into thirds and then half lengthwise, into a rope, trapping some air if possible. Holding down one end, create a spiral with the dough, tucking the other end into the center**. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Heat a tavva fry pan with some ghee. Stretch out prepared dough by pressing with the tips of your fingers on work surface into 7-inch rounds. Place on hot tavva or pan and fry till golden brown on both sides. It takes about 3 minutes for each side. Fluff up fried roti by whacking it with both hands coming together on a flat surface.
Serve immediately with some Dhal Curry.
**Most people just fold the spread out dough into a square and place it immediately on a hot fry pan or griddle. I like the spiral method better as it creates beautiful layers in the roti.
Serve immediately with some dhal curry or chicken curry. Dada-ji likes it with tongue-burning mango pickle!
Disclaimer: Although a copy of this book was sent to me for free, I did not receive any monetary compensation for this write up. What was written are my personal thoughts and view. For full disclaimer, please click here.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!