Friday, June 25, 2010

Roti the Oven

Teak is newly arrived back in Malaysia from a short trip "outside" the country.  While visiting friends, I discovered that there is an interest in both preparing and eating Indian-style food.  Despite not having access to a tandoori oven, I was successful in preparing roti naan and a variety of chutneys that went over well with American taste buds.

Of course, there are a variety of recipes out there, but I use one that comes from my favorite Indian cooking book: The Food of India.

The recipe is:
500 g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 TBS sugar
1 egg
4 TBS oil

For variety, I try to substitute up to 25% of the plain flour with something flavoured, like almond flour.  Above 25%, and the dough will not hold together as well.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and make a "well" in the middle.  Mix the milk, sugar, egg and half of the oil (2 TBS) and pour into the well.  Knead the bread, adding the remaining oil (and perhaps, water) to get a soft and springy dough.  (I like to think of it as getting to the point of "spanking a baby's bottom".  That's how the dough should feel when done.)

Cover with a damp cloth and allow the dough to rest for 15-20 minutes.  Knead the dough again, and then cover for 2-3 hours with damp cloth.  Pre-heat oven to a high temperature, best if over 500 F.

Divide the dough into several sections, 8-12, depending on how large you want the finished naan.  I like to make dough balls a little larger than a golf ball (handball size?).  Roll the dough balls out flat using a rolling pin on a flat, smooth surface.  The thinner you can make the naan, the better.  After another 2-3 minute "rest", put the naan into the oven and bake until you can see brown splotches, and the edges look done.

Since I use a regular oven -rather than a tandoor- I found that there are two keys towards making a good roti naan.  First, the dough should be rolled out as thinly as possible.  I use a rolling pin on a hard surface, such as the crushed glass (faux granite) countertop at my friend's house (see photo).  Second, the bread needs to be baked at a very high temperature.  I was successful using two different home ovens at temperatures in the 520-550 F range.  At that temperature, a flat stone baking plate comes in handy.  The dough will not stick at these temperatures, and will produce a flat bread with a crispy exterior and a soft interior.  Eat with a variety of chutneys (to be covered next).


  1. Good to have you back..
    Ha..the recipe ..
    we have to buy the book.. right?
    Looks like you are rather successful ..this time

  2. Yeah, I put everything up but the recipe. It is coming ... now.

  3. I enjoyed sampling your cuisine last summer. You should put together a recipe book of Malaysian dishes, Malay, Indian, Chinese... I'd buy it.
    The Daughter

  4. It would be a very thin recipe book. Wait a few more years, okay?