Category Archives: Snacks and Sides

Sweet Potato Pancakes

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For a long time my son Callum didn’t like toast for breakfast. He preferred cooked breakfasts, pancakes, waffles, bacon and eggs. I had neither the time nor the energy to indulge him so I created some cheats. This was one of them. A sweet potato pancake that I made in bulk and froze. Easy to whip out of the freezer and defrost even on a morning before work.

In fact, the day of little Miss M’s arrival I was making a large batch of these, in a valiant attempt to prepare for the madness that would follow. I dropped Callum at daycare and made a triple batch of this recipe. I cooked them, lay them on baking trays and left them to cool while I visited the Ob/Gyn. Sadly, I never made it back home, I just continued onto hospital. It was only a few days later when my sister-in-law was at our house, waiting for a tradie of some sort, that she texted me and said “What should I do with all the pancakes?” I sadly had to tell her they’d been sitting on the counter for days and would need to be binned.

The idea for the pancakes came from Jessica Seinfeld’s book, Deceptively Delicious. While I like the ideas for her recipes, hers have more of an “increase veg, decrease calorie” philosophy. I love the increased veg idea, but both my little mini humans need all the calories they can get. So nothing but full fat here.

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup of self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 1/2 cups full cream milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup steamed sweet potato, mashed (about 1 medium sweet potato)

Preparation

In a large bowl whisk together the the flours. Add the milk and butter and mix well. Whisk the two eggs lightly and add to the mix, mixing till there are no lumps. Finally add the the sweet potato and mix well until it’s even distributed.

Butter a large skillet or pan and place over a low to medium heat. When the pan is hot, place 1/4 cup of the mixture into the pan, leaving a few cm between each pancake to allow for spread.

Flip the pancake gently when bubbles cover the surface. I find these pancakes get more brown, as compared to the plain ones, the sugar content in the sweet potato will do that.

Cook for the few minutes on the flip side before cooling and serving to your demanding clientale.

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If you want to freeze, just lay them flat on a tray with some baking paper and freezer for an hour or two before placing in zip lock bags.

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Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Baby Friendly Food, Non-Sri Lankan Food, Snacks and Sides, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes

Green Mallum

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Mallum is Sri Lanka’s answer to a salad. A bevy of greens wilted, spiced and combined with shredded coconut amongst other wonderful spices. It’s often served as a condiment, an addendum to a meal. Something to add flavour, colour and vivid green health.

It’s a healthy alternative to lettuce and greens doused in dressing and I know for me it helps balance the colours in a meal. I struggle to eat without some green on my plate,

When I made this, I used silver beet and some outer leaves of cabbage from my parent’s garden. Green spinach, kale, collard greens are all easily used.

The trick to this is to slice the greens as finely as possible. It’s a skill I lack so, like me, do the best you can.

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Ingredients

  • 200g greens, washed and dried (5-6 leaves)
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish
  • 2 dried chillies finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • salt to taste

Preparation

Finely slice the greens. I find rolling them tightly into a cigar shape and using a sharp knife is the easiest way to get a fine slice.

In a small frypan add the oil. When hot, add the curry leaves, mustard seeds and onion. Fry until the onion is soft.

Add the chopped greens and cook until just wilted. Now add the coconut, mustard seeds, turmeric and salt, Mix well until just warmed through.

Serve warm with fluffy white rice.

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Filed under Snacks and Sides, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian Curries

Koththu Roti

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It’s really hard to imitate koththu roti outside Sri Lanka. The speed and clang of the metal blades can be heard far and wide and when I’m on the streets of Lanka it’s hard to ignore.  Koththu is a dish composed traditionally of chopped up godamba roti, meat curry and vegetables. Since godamba roti can be hard to find in Australia and virtually impossible here there are a lot of substitutes out there. I’ve seen koththu made with lebanese or pita bread (way too dry) and paratha (can be a bit oily). While these are passable substitutes, koththu always tastes better with the real deal. While eating some left-over curry with tortillas I commented to Mr Firehouse that I thought tortilla’s would be a good substitute.

We were feeling a bit sick and sorry after a big night (by our standards) last week and decided to have the traditional Lankan hangover cure, almost as a good at dirty 3am Kebab.

I already had the chicken curry made up and I used half the quantity. Without the extra reserved gravy on top, Callum was able to eat this. If you have the time and inclination why not try this with the real godamba roti?

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Here’s how the professionals do it!

Ingredients

  • 8 large flour tortillas
  • oil
  • 1/2 a large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chillis sliced
  • sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 2-3 carrots shredded
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 a quantity of chicken curry meat shredded, bones removed and gravy reserved.
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce

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Preparation

 

Brush both sides of the tortillas lightly with oil. Place them in a large frypan over a medium heat until both sides are browned and lightly crispy.  Leave to cool and then chop into small fingers.

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In a large wok or frying pan add 3-4 tablespoons of oil and the onions, garlic, chilli and curry leaves. Fry for a few minutes until the onions are browned and then add the leaks. I like to cook the leeks a little bit longer as raw leeks can be a bit like raw onion. Add the tomato and carrot and fry until just soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and extra chilli flakes if you want more spice.

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Finally add the chicken and pour over the egg. Mix the egg through and just as it’s starting to cook add the chopped tortillas. Mix and warm the whole mixture through.

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The tortilla pieces should soak up the  sauce and any water at the bottom of the wok. They’ll turn a lovely brown and be very flavoursome.     Warm the gravy from the chicken curry and serve the koththu with the gravy poured on top.

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Filed under Chicken, Meat/Fish Dishes, Snacks and Sides

Pol Sambol

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  When Nuwan and I were visiting his grandmother (Achcho) after our wedding she wanted to cook us everything under the sun. She suggested crabs and prawns and fish but every time she asked we’d say  “just pol sambol, parrippu (dhal) and bread please”.  I think if we were given the opportunity we’d have had that combination with fresh, crusty Sri Lankan bread every day. Poor Achcho on the other hand, was very exasperated! The truth is the taste of a real Sri Lankan pol sambol, made with freshly grated coconut, ground on a miris gala and seasoned with fresh lime from the garden can’t be beaten. This is a fixture on most tables in Sri Lanka and locals and tourists alike come to love it’s zing and spice. In fact a friend, who had spent time in Sri Lanka and desperately missed the food, once confessed that when she found a local Sri Lankan restaurant that made pol sambol she bought some home and ate it with everything, including spaghetti bolognese! 

My dad usually made the pol sambol at home, especially when it was needed in large quantities. He’d often use the blender and if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, a blender or food processor would also work.

Ingredients

  • 100g of dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp. coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 small red onion diced
  • 1 tbsp. chilli flakes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 black pepper corns
  • 1/4 tsp. maldive fish flakes
  • 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 a small tomato chopped (I used about 4 cherry tomatoes quartered)

Preparation

In a bowl mix together the coconut, coconut milk and hot water. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds and let it cool. This helps rehydrate the coconut and get back some of the coconut flavour that is lost in the dessication process. If you’re lucky to have fresh or frozen coconut, ignore the first step.

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In a mortar and pestle pound the onion, salt, peper, garlic and chilli until you’ve got a fine paste.

Akki's_Kitchen-4Slowly add the coconut, 1-2 tbsp. at a time until you’ve used up all the coconut. I usually add the tomatoes at the last minute and give a quick pounds to mix it up. I don’t want to pulverize the tomatoes. If you’re using a food processor, hold off on doing this. Empty the coconut mixture into a bowl and then add the tomatoes.  

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With the coconut mixture in the bowl, squeeze over the lime juice and using your hands give the whole thing a good mix and scrunch. The colour should be uniform.

Serve with fresh crusty bread or as a condiment with rice and curry.

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Super Simple Tomato Sauce

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One of Mister C’s favourite foods is pasta with tomato sauce. Of course, when my high-alert new mummy radar saw how much salt was in tinned tomatoes, I flipped out. Seriously? Ever since then I’ve been buying the ‘no salt added’ and much more expensive tin or making my own sauce.

This is one of those recipes that takes 5 minutes at the beginning, 5 minutes at the end and a lot of waiting in between. Do it on a day that’s not too hot as the oven will be on for a while. I popped these in the oven and went for a walk around the neighbourhood because my oven has a stop time where I can tell it when the oven should turn off. Roasting the tomatoes makes them lovely and unctuous and sweet. Even the slightly sad, end of summer tomatoes we have now taste pretty good this way. I find that this sauce really doesn’t need anything added to it except some lovely fresh pasta and maybe some cheese and Mister C certainly agrees.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 egg (roma) tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. dried herbs (italian, rosemary, thyme)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a small red onion sliced

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 fahrenheit (180 celsius)

Place the tomatoes on an oiled or lined oven tray and sprinkle the oil, garlic and herbs on top.

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Bake in the oven for 1 and a half hours until the tomatoes are soft and juicy

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Place tomatoes, garlic and onions in a bowl and blend using a stick (or immerision) blender blitz them up. You can also place the tomatoes in a food processor and blender and blitz that way.

Serve as is over cooked pasta or freeze in ice-cube trays to serve later.

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Filed under Baby Friendly Food, Snacks and Sides, Tips and Tricks, Vegetable Dishes

No-knead bread

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A few years ago now, hubby and I decided to visit our good friend Matthew in Paris. It was an epic trip but the highlight for me was the bread. Is there anything better than French bread straight out of the hot oven of the local Boulangerie? I think not. I remember sleeping in till very late and then strolling down the road to the local bakery and walking back with a huge brown paper bag full of fresh baguettes. Amazing!

On the last day we were in Paris we had some baguettes left and wanted to indulge in them for breakfast. I pulled out one of Matthew’s many plastic chopping boards and began top chop the baguette. Matt rushed in, guns blazing.

“STOP!” he cried. I looked up, panicked. Had I used the wrong sponge to wash the glasses? Had I restacked the tea incorrectly? Matt’s kitchen was impeccably organised. ” You can’t use a plastic chopping board to cut bread.”

” I can’t?” I replied, puzzled.

” It’s a French thing.” he then pulled out a wooden board and proceeded to slip it under the baguette. ” The French always cut their bread on a wooden chopping board!”

Who knew? Obviously not me. Now I always feel Matt whispering in my ear as I chop my bread, willy nilly, on plastic boards, from IKEA no less.  I made a special effort this time, I cut this particular loaf on a wooden board.

This recipe can get addictive, be warned. It’s so easy, there’s no reason to buy the cake they label as bread in the supermarket. I’m a bit late on the “no knead” bread bandwagon, but this is the best recipe I’ve found so far and works every time. There is a slightly longer version on Steamy Kitchen which has no sugar added (better for the kiddywinks) but takes significantly longer. I do both, especially as I love the cob shape and crispy crust that the Steamy Kitchen loaf gets when baked in dutch oven!

Ingredients

  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 300ml of warm water
  • 1 packet (8g) of yeast
  • Extra flour for dusting

Instructions

 

In a small bowl place the packet of yeast and about 50ml of the warm water. Stir and leave the yeast to froth and go foamy.

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The foaminess starting to develop

In a large bowl add the flour, salt and sugar and mix well. Add the proven yeast and water to the flour mix and stir. This is supposed to be a wet mix , don’t panic if it’s sticky. It’s supposed to be.

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At this point, I brush the top of the dough with a little oil, place a tea towel over the top and place it in a nice warm place to double in size (about 1/2 an hour).

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Doubled in size

When the dough has doubled in size, pour it our onto a well-floured kitchen bench and form in a rough loaf. I basically pull the sides into the middle and make a very rough log shape. Now pick it up and place it in a greased loaf pan. Don’t panic if it sticks, it is very stick dough after all. Just scrape it up!

Cover it with the cloth again and leave it to rise until the top of the dough is just above the rim of the loaf pan.

Place in a hot (200 celsius, 425 fahrenheit) oven for 25-30 minutes or until the tapped loaf sounds hollow. As soon as it’s cool enough to touch, place the loaf on a wire rack to allow the crust on the bottom to crisp up nicely.

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Serve hot with lots of butter and some spicy chicken curry! If you want to reheat this bread, wrap with aluminium foil and bake in a hot oven for 15 minus or so. This stops the bread from browning further but makes the insides all toasty warm.

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Leek and Beetroot Tart

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We’re doing Vegetarian  again and I’ve committed to using the last of our farmer’s market haul in the bottom of the fridge. We’ve been left with beetroot and leeks which thankfully go well together.

This is actually a really simple recipe, but I made it complicated for myself by making my own “rough puff pastry”. I didn’t have a choice. You see, here in Seattle no-one makes Pampas. I can’t count on the pack of frozen puff in my freezer, bought in bulk, 10 sheets at a time. The one’s we’ve found are often expensive and not quite the same as the stuff back home.  When I ran into the concept of a ‘rough puff pastry’ a few months ago, I was intrigued. Could we indulge in tarte tatin once again? Would sausage rolls be on the menu regularly? Could we take a box of egg and bacon rolls out on a day trip? I dared not hope. Today I finally tried the recipe and while it’s a heart attack waiting to happen, I can safely say that tarte tatin is back on the menu, albeit occasionally. Wheeee!

Mr Firehouse declared this tart delicious and he’s the one who always says “and we can have those sausages in the freezer…” whenever I suggest a meat free meal.

Ingredients
  • 4 small beetroots roasted
  • 2-3 small leeks cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • small knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp. of oil
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry or 1/2 quanity of rough puff pastry  (I used this link)

To serve

Parsley Sauce

  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped
  • 1 green onion (spring onion) finely sliced
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 small red onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Walnuts and sour cream to dress the tart

A few tips and tricks

Cleaning the leeks

Leeks are notorious for getting grit in between all their millions of layers. The best trick I ever learned was to slice the leek down the middle, but not all the way, and then run water along the cut.The water gets between all the layers and gets rid of all the grit.

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Roasting the beets

I roast the beetroot in the oven wrapped in foil, with the skin on. I cook them until I can place a knife through them. Once cooled, you can easily scrape the skin off with a serrated knife.

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Preparation

Preheat your oven to 350 fahrenheit, 180 celsius. In an ovenproof frying pan (it needs to go in the oven to cook the pastry), at least 30cm wide add the butter and the oil. When the butter has melted add the leeks and garlic. As the leeks begin to soften add the thyme and balsamic vinegar and cook for a few minutes until the leeks have some colour on them and then turn the heat off.

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Lay the roasted beetroots on the bed of leeks and arrange them nicely.

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Now lay the puff pastry on top and tuck the edges underneath the leaks making a dome to encase all the yummy goodness.

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If you want you can do an egg wash at this point, but as this will be the bottom of the tart, I don’t think there’s much point. Place the pan straight in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry has risen, crisp and golden.

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Leave the tart to cool. This is super important. Firstly the pan you used is super hot and therefore tricky to invert and secondly, letting it cool lets all the yummy goodness stick to the pastry and hold together better.

Flip the cooled tart onto a board and scatter the walnuts on top.

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I served my tart with the parsley sauce (recipe below)  and a little dollop of sour cream.

For the parsley sauce, simply combine all of the ingredients and stir. So simple, but so good!

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Filed under Snacks and Sides, Tarts, Vegetable Dishes

Masala Vadai

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I’ve posted a similar recipe before; Dhal Wade, this is just an update on the recipe and some more detailed photos of the “how to” process. I’ve also decided that there is no agreed upon spelling for “Vadai” and have decided to go with a different spelling today.

Yield: This quantity made about 60 medium sizes vadais

Ingredients

  • 3 cups red lentils/channa dhal (I used red lentils, also known as mysoor dhal)
  • 6 tbsp. raw rice
  • 6 tbsp. urid dhal
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 small red onion
  • handful of curry leaves
  • 1 tsp. maldive fish flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 3 green chillies
  • 3 tbsp. chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. unroasted curry powder
  • 2.5 tsp. salt
  • OIL FOR SHALLOW FRYING
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Preparation

Soak the peas/lentils, rice and dhal for at least 4 hours.
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Drain the lentils well and set aside a cup of of lentils. Using a food processor or blender, process the remaining lentils until it becomes a paste that sticks together. If you grab a spoonful, you should be able to form it into a ball or patty without it falling apart. Add a little bit of water as you’re blending, if you need. The more water you add, the more oil your vadai’s will absorb as they cook.
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I use the pulse function on my food processor and usually blend in 2 batches. I blend one to a fine paste, and the second batch to a slightly coarser paste. I also use the food processor to chop the onions, ginger, curry leaves, chillies and coriander.
Combine the onion mix, the ground lentils and the whole lentils. Finally add the remaining spices and mix thoroughly.
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Using your hands or spoons, form the mixture into patties. I make little quenelles using 2 spoons. I know this isn’t the traditional shape but it keeps my hands clean to turn the already frying vadais and there’s no need to wash my hands every 5 minutes. Feel free to make the traditional flattened patty shape.
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Fry them in batches of 5-8 in a large wok or frying pan on medium heat until the vadais are crispy on the outside and cooked through. I usually test as I go.
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Vadais are best served hot with a cup of hot sweet tea. If you’re storing them, reheat them in a 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit) oven for 10-15 minutes to get that crispness back.
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Pol (Coconut) Roti and Lunu Miris

POL ROTI

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Roti and luni miris, a class combination

Sri Lankan food can often be time consuming and labour intensive. It’s well worth the effort but sometimes it’s difficult to find the time on a busy weeknight. Pol Roti is an exception. Easy, quick and tasty, it’s something we often eat during the week when the need for curry hits us and rice just won’t cut it.

It took us a while to make Roti here in Seattle. Every single bag of coconut we found was “sweetened”. We finally happened upon it at the largely organic market WHOLE FOODS, and we’ve never looked back. Thank goodness, can you imagine life without pol sambol, roti or Anzac Biccies? Disaster!

Roti is delicious by itself and especially with lunu miris (recipe below). It’s also goes perfectly with our chicken curry and a generous smear of butter!

Ingredients

Serves 2-3 (Makes 8 medium sized Rotis)

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • I cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Enough luke warm water to make a dough

Instructions

In a bowl place all the dry ingredients and the oil. Mix until the coconut is evenly distributed.
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Now slowly add enough warm water to make a dough that comes to together in a ball. I used about 1 cup.
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Here you have 2 options;
Option 1: you can flour your bench and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. You can then cut the dough using a round cutter to get uniform circles. Then repeat until all the dough is used up.
I decided to go the other way
Option 2: Divide the large ball of dough into 8 small balls. Now press the dough flat with the tips of your fingers until the roti is about 1/2 cm thick.
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Place a frying pan or crepe pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Place the roti on there one or two at a time. I like the roti to get some nice dark brown patches and keep turning them until I have some colour on both sides.
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Cook all the roti and serve warm with Lunu miris (quite literally onion and chilli sambol).
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Uncooked rotis freeze really well so if you have extra freeze them with greaseproof paper between the rotis and then sealed in a ziploc bag. You can then cook them straight from frozen.
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Ingredients
  • 1/2 a small red onion chopped
  • 3/4 tbsp. chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish flakes
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Preparation
In the bowl of a food processor place your onion, chilli flakes, maldive fish flakes, garlic and pepper. Now whizz it up until the onion is finely chopped and all the ingredients are well mixed. Place the contents in bowl and add the salt and lemon juice to taste. Mix and serve with your warm roti!
Note: If you don’t have a food processor use a mortar and pestle and grind the ingredients together and add the salt and lemon juice last.

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Godamba Roti

  HP1B9216  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.

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Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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.
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Tada, this is what they look like when they’re all cooked….just scrumptious.
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