5 ingredient Spinach Roti (Indian flatbreads) that are softer than your plush blanket, every single time. Dunk into curry or swap for corn tortillas on Taco nights. Life will never be the same again.
Life moves in a blur these days as we flit from one item in a checklist to the next.
So the things that deliberately slow us down are truly special and needs to be treasured. Nobody savors anything anymore. I know that there are ultra cool gadgets that do these things now, but I derive so much joy out of kneading dough by hand. Yes, it’s messy work. Takes time. Hard work, even. And at the end of a long day, it’s (logically) not really something you look forward to. But when I’m done putting away the ‘set’ I spent all day styling and shooting, close down the hundred tabs open on the browser, sign out and find my way to the comfort of the couch with my giant bowl of flour, water and salt to knead, I know that the day is ended, and I can put my feet up. To me, it’s a marker of time. It’s also when I let my mind wander aimlessly as my fingers work the dough almost unsupervised. 3 simple ingredients, but they are a comforting staple in my home. If you hate carbs, we can’t be friends. I like my breads. All of them.
While I’ve become quite adept at baking breads, flatbreads, especially the traditional Indian flatbreads aren’t really my strong suit. I didn’t grow up in a very traditional home – paternal family had recently migrated from Burma and my mother didn’t know how to cook until after she was married. When she cooked, it was always improvised, aimed at speed, efficiency and least waste.
I’ve always envied those who made rotis that were so warm, soft and pliable that you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for a plush blanket. And for some reason, I always ended up with rotis that were soft when they came out of the stove, but turned jaw-achingly tough when cooled. It was a sore point for me, and a source of constant shame.
Note: NOT because Indian women are expected to make soft rotis – oh, I’m a feminist and despise that. But this was something I wanted to master, for me, not for others, and it made me sad that I wasn’t able to pass this test for myself!
Enter Spinach Roti. It was years ago when I first spotted Spinach Roti rolling up on my social media feeds, and back then, I wasn’t too keen on my veggies and greens. And while the idea fascinated me, I wasn’t bookmarking any recipes or queuing them up for tryouts.
But one night, about 6 months ago, when I was just hopping on the ‘greens’ bandwagon – entering the 30s club really did a number on me- I had a bunch of wilting spinach in the fridge begging to be thrown out.
And I remembered the Spinach Roti.
For the sake of saving the spinach, I pureed the poor thing and used it to make the dough for the roti.
Guess what? It was the very first rotis I made that achieved the gold standard of rotis – the plush blanket status.
I’ve since made these Spinach rotis a zillion times ; with those results, they soon became a favorite around home. And it gave me renewed interest in improving my soft-as-air roti skills.
So, based on my recent experiences, along with inputs of those adept at making the softest rotis I’ve ever tasted, here are my 5 tips for foolproof, soft rotis, every single time:
- Hydrate the dough – a sticky dough is a baker’s worst nightmare, but with flatbreads, you want a soft dough with a little stickiness. Rub a little oil on top of the sticky dough once done kneading.
- Cover and rest for atleast 20 minutes – I cannot emphasise the difference this makes. Don’t skip this step. (In the image above, the dough looks non-sticky, but I promise you, the bottom was stuck to my hands)
- While cooking the flatbreads, keep flipping them every 10 seconds or so. The longer a side rests on the griddle, the tougher it gets.
- Don’t cook the flatbreads until crisp. It should be soft when it comes out of the stove.
- Put cooked flatbreads in a covered plate lined with clean kitchen towels/paper towels (OR) inside an insulated casserole (like this one). This will keep the rotis warm and soft until serving time.
These Spinach Roti changed my life -roti wise. Also, it’s full of spinach, and that’s never a bad thing!
The Rotis keep well refrigerated for 1-2 days, and so does the dough.
Reheat your rotis in the microwave for 30 seconds. Covering them with a damp paper towel while reheating brings back their blanket-ness.
Here are some of my favorite curries to pair up with these:
And when you make these fool-proof Spinach Roti (which I really think you SHOULD!), be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to see what you cook from here!
For the Spinach puree
- 1 bunch of fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup water
- Water for blanching + ice bath
For the dough
- 2 cups Aashirvaad Multigrain Atta - or regular whole wheat flour + more for dusting and rolling
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil + 1 tbsp more for greasing
- 3/4 c of Spinach Puree
- 3/4 c water
Make the Spinach puree
- Wash the spinach leaves. You don't have to trim the stems. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Ready another bowl of water with ice cubes in it.
- Submerge your spinach into the boiling water using tongs. When it turns a bright green, and cooks (will be floppy when you lift it out of the water), remove from the boiling water with the tongs and drop into the bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking and keep the color a bright green.
- Once cooled, drain the spinach from the water and add the wilted, bright green spinach leaves into a blender jar along with 1/2 cup water. Blend into a smooth puree. Set aside.
- Note: 1 bunch of spinach makes about 1 1/2 cups of puree. Use 3/4 cup in this recipe and freeze the excess for later.(see notes)
Make the dough
- In a wide bowl, add the flour, salt and make a well in the center. Add 3/4 cup of the spinach puree and knead for about 4-5 minutes. It will be a sticky dough. You don't have to knead until it's soft and springy.
- Brush with the oil, cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
Roll the Rotis
- Divide the rested dough into 12 equal parts and roll each one into a ball. Use oil in your fingers to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Dunk each ball generously in the flour and roll out into a disc as thin as you can. Use flour to help roll easily.
- This is a very soft dough, so you can roll them out, dust generously with flour to prevent sticking and keep stacking them up before you cook them.
Cook the Rotis
- Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Have a small bowl of oil (about 1tbsp) on the side with a pastry brush. Line a plate (or a hot pack) with paper towels/clean kitchen towels and fit it with a lid.
- When the skillet is hot, add one rolled sheet of dough. When you see small, miniscule bubbles on top, within 30 seconds or so, flip.
- Brush the cooked side lightly with a little oil and flip immediately. Using the same bruch (without dipping back into oil), brush the other side with oil. Flip.
- Continue cooking, flipping every 30 seconds until you see golden brown spots all over on both sides.
- Transfer cooked roti to the prepared plate (or hot pack), cover with lid and continue cooking the remaining flatbreads.
- Serve warm. Can be made upto 1-2 days in advance and warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds to make soft again. Refrigerate leftovers in a dry, tight container.
- This recipe can be made with wilted, less-than-fresh spinach too. 1 bunch of spinach gives 1 1/2 cups of puree.
- When you have a lot of spinach at hand, blanch, puree and freeze 3/4c fulls for later. When you need to make flatbreads, take a frozen cube, microwave until melted and use in your dough.
- When you're in a rush, you can skip the blanching step, directly puree and use in dough. The spinach will turn an unapetising color when cooked, but it won't affect taste or measurements.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 87 Total Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 226mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 0g Protein: 4g