Makki ki roti (cornmeal flatbread) is a North Indian favorite enjoyed during the winter months. It is usually served with Sarson ka saag (mustard leaves curry) but also goes great with aloo gobhi or turnip saag. Makki ki roti is believed to be difficult to make, but actually, it is not so.
I am not saying that you will not need to learn to make it. There are two stages involved. One, you need to make a dough, and that takes some skill and practice. The second stage is to roll out the roti to the correct thickness and perfectly round shape.
From this video, you will learn that lukewarm water should be used to make the dough. That is a good tip, but it only gets half the job done. It is more important to knead the dough for a good 10-15 minutes or until it becomes completely smooth and starts sticking to your hands.
There is no particular need to add clarified butter to the dough. Any vegetable oil with a neutral flavor will do the job.
The second stage of rolling out the roti is where your skill gets put to the test. The experienced hands in India do the rolling out part on the hot griddle itself. First, spread some oil on the hot griddle, keep the dough on it and start pressing it down with your hand. It takes time and a lot of practice to learn this part. But once you learn it, it stays with you forever.
The trick of using parchment paper to roll out the roti is only for beginners. I am sure you would not use it for long. Authentically making this roti is way more satisfying.
There is also a problem you may not be able to overcome.
I feel a sense of shame in telling you that we hardly get pure cornmeal in India anymore. Even the known brands of food products are selling cornmeal adulterated with wheat or some other flour. And that adulteration spoils everything. You can’t knead the dough properly, you can’t roll out the roti nicely, and you can’t bake it well.
Here are a few tests you can apply to know if your cornmeal is adulterated: If the flour is too sticky, it has most likely wheat flour mixed in it. And if, after baking it on the hot griddle for more than five minutes, the roti still tastes raw or remains moist inside, you are using adulterated cornmeal, possibly mixed with white corn flour.
But I still hope that greedy businesses do not kill this important part of North India’s culinary tradition. Someone needs to step up and start selling pure cornmeal. How difficult is that?
Video credit: Rajshri Food YouTube channel.