Roti and Paratha
First comes the ‘Flour’.
Indians eat ‘flour’ product almost every day in the form of ‘Roti’/ ‘Phulka’/ ‘Chapati’/ ‘Paratha’/ ‘Poori’/ ‘Kathori’. ‘Wheat Flour’ precisely.It is certainly more popular in North,East,West part of India than in South.Climate in South is not as favorable to wheat as it is to rice.
Flour in India are not as grouped and marketed as it is here in US like ‘All Purpose Flour,Self Rising Flour,Cake Flour,Bread Flour‘.You add whatever is needed to be added to make it appropriate for different kind of dishes.I remember growing up my parents used to buy wheat in big bulk,soaking it to clean it,drying it on terrace top in hot sun and taking it to mill to grind it.Many still continue to do it same way and many have adopted the convenient route of buying ‘flour’ all milled,good to go.
Roti – It is similar to Mexican ‘Tortilla’ here but not quite the same.It is called differently in different part of India.We called it ‘Roti’.In west and up north,it is usally called ‘Phulka’/’Chapati’.Unless said otherwise,dough for everyday ‘Roti’ is always prepared of ‘Wheat flour’ and Water.Good ‘Roti’ also earns some bragging rights.Round,thin and light Roti is certainly to be boast about by mom and mother in law alike.
Paratha (p-ra-ta)- Roti slathered in oil/Ghee/butter.Little more love than ‘Roti’.Another characteristic of ‘Paratha’ i grew up with,is its shape.’Triangular.Layers help to puff the ‘Paratha’ as it cooks over the slow heat.Although,round paratha is normal too.Very indulging.My mom packed it for school lunch with ‘indian pickle’ or ‘Bhujiya’ at times but ‘Roti’ is what we ate much more frequently for its simplicity. Yummmm memories.
Dough : Unless said otherwise,dough for everyday ‘Roti’ is always prepared of ‘Wheat flour’ and Water.Corn(“Makka” in hindi) is also used to make ‘Roti’.Everyday Roti-paratha dough is made by simply adding water to flour slowly and kneading it by hand until it’s well-rounded,not sticky dough.Let is sit for 10 mins.You can use mixer if you want to.For ‘Poori/Katchori'(Puffy Tacos kind),some oil and little seasonings are added to the dough.
I don’t make it often but my sister does.You can watch the process in a gallery below.
Notice the picture titled ‘Roti’ stage.At that point,you can cook it as it is.If you slather it with ‘Butter’/oil once cooked,it will be called ‘Paratha’,if you leave it as it is,then it stays as ‘Roti’.So,You can make paratha by folding and layering it or you can butter it at ‘Roti’ stage.Traditionally ‘parathas’ are folded and layered,since it helps with puffing as it cooks.
It does matter what kind of ‘flour’ you are using to make Roti or Paratha.Whole soft wheat white flour works best.Bread flour or other with additives tends to get elastic-y and doesn’t stay stretched as you are rolling it.Whole wheat flour milled using hard -red wheat has very coarse texture,it does not make fluffiest Roti.