My dad comes from a small town in Sri Lanka, between Kegalle and Avissawella. Ruwanwella it’s called and we spend a good part of our holidays there. My uncle, Tissa Mama, is a local somebody. Tissa mama is a foodie of sorts. He has a nose for finding dingy little local joints that have untold of culinary wonders. From spicy vadais, to fried chicken and egg rolls. In fact, one of the most endearing memories I have of him is him running down the stone steps of his house when he hears the music of the bakery truck (yes in Sri Lanka the bakery truck comes around of an afternoon rather than the ice cream one) sarong hitched up, wallet in hand.One of his finds was a local place that sells amazing Godamba roti, a flat crispy bread akin to the Roti Canai of Malaysia and paratha of India. When we were there last, hubby and my brother-in-law insisted on accompanying us to get this tasty treat from “town”. The shop itself was beyond dingy. The man behind the counter dingy and dirty and sporting a greasy pony tail. The one light globe was attracting flying insects of every description, but this was Sri Lanka, we were undeterred. The pony-tailed one grabbed a ball of dough that was sitting in a vat of oil and deftly stretched it with the palm of his hand on the countertop, a fly walked across and he expertly shook is off and continued stretching until the dough was paper-thin. He then placed the now transparent dough on the hot plate and repeated the process on another ball, when it was done he lay it ontop of the first roti and flipped the whole thing over. He layered each roti, one on top of the other until he had a pile of about 10. He wrapped them all in plastic wrap then newspaper and handed them to us. It says something about how good this roti is that we didn’t give a toss about the flies, the dust or the dirt. If anything, watching the process only made my husband determined to try making the roti at home.
Now that we’re in Seattle there’s no chance of finding these goodies down the road, so we’re left to our own devices. Here’s our very liberal interpretation, they might not be as good as the ones back in Lanka but I reckon that has a lot to do with the lack of flies.
- 3 cups of plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- Enough luke warm water to make a dough
- IL of canola or vegetable oil
You can easily do this by hand but I’m inherently lazy with things like this and use appliances. So I put the flour, oil and water into the bowl of my kitchenaid.
Remember to use the dough hook, I say this because if you use the whisk it’ll be a huge mess.
Give it a good mix on a medium speed and slowly add the water as the mixer is moving
You want to keep adding the water until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer up a little and knead for 4-5 minutes.
Form the dough into small balls and lay in a flat dish. Here’s the funky part, you have to cover the whole lot in oil. Submerged! The oil changes the texture of the dough, does something cool with the gluten and it makes it lovely and stretchy.
It’s a lot of oil yes, but I keep mine in a jar (like below) and reuse it every time I make roti.
Cover the rotis up and leave them to sit for at the very least 4 hours.
When you’re ready to cook, place a large frypan on the hob and turn it up to medium -high heat. You want these rotis cooked cookly so they maintain their chewiness.
Start with one ball of roti and using the palm of your hand start stretching it out on the counter top. You need lubrication so don’t be afraid of a little oil.
Carefully place the roti on the pan and cook until brown on one-side, then flip.
Tada, this is what they look like when they’re all cooked….just scrumptious.