Roti: 40 classic Indian breads & sides
Nandita Godbole, 2019 (second edition)
Steeped in an oral culture, the Indian cuisine offers many culinary gems from its numerous gastronomic regions, all responding to season, region, and reason with individual flair. Representing an essential part of a meal, Roti and its many variations are individual, hand crafted creations that sustain the subcontinent and are loved across the world.
Roti: 40 Classic Indian Breads & Sides explores essential breads like roti and chapati, alongside classic festive dishes like Puran Poli, and Kheer Patishapta. It also includes classic techniques applicable across many preparations, building confidence. To pair with these, Roti includes easy classic chutneys, raitas, relishes and desserts that effortlessly grace dinner tables whenever Roti’s are served.
Making a roti is more than following a recipe or applying a technique. It engages all the senses: touching, kneading and feeling the dough, seeing how it responds to rolling, listening to the sounds of dry flour grazing across a rolling surface sensing when more flour is needed, watching it cook and recognizing the aroma of dough transforming to a roti, and finally tasting the sweetness that one has just created. There is true poetry in making these timeless creations. The repetitive process completed entirely by hand, is a meditative and transcendent experience in itself. Explore your connection with each handcrafted roti as it becomes laden with warmth and comfort, enjoy the moments of its creation, and treasure the experience of sharing it with loved ones.
Release date: April 2019.
Retail: $25.00 +S&H
Domestic USA: $25+ $8 (S&H) = $33.00
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Rotis, a generic representation of breads, are anything but mundane. Rotis and Indian food go together like a horse and carriage, yes, a new analogy to an old well-heeled song. We use them as eating utensils at every meal, breaking them apart into bite-size morsels with the forefingers of your right hand (an etiquette in a culture where EVERYTHING is done with hands – the left reserved for hygiene), wrapping them around delectable curries, succulent stir-fries, and potent condiments.
So, to have Nandita’s roti recipes that span the versatility of India’s regional fare, is a boon. Every recipe is meticulously laid out, a series of pictures dot its steps, a finished product that begs you to make your own stack. Many of them appear easy to make, and they are, once you master the techniques, because, like their European counterparts, it’s all in the hands, the feel, the appropriate amount of moisture, the right cooking method, and yes, even the shaped thickness.
In addition to everyday fare like the ubiquitous roti, you will find some gems that showcase breads from her childhood, Puran Poli, sweetened pigeon peas stuffed into flaky-tender whole wheat breads and griddle cooked, and the way I savor it, with mounds of warm clarified butter. Or Methi theplas, Gujarat’s addictive fenugreek-studded flatbreads with ginger. Some batter-based recipes round out the mélange, every recipe an inviting trip down memory lane.
Oh and don’t forget to make those amazing sides of chutneys and raitas that complement every type of bread in this book. Rotis-r-us!
Like me, you can probably remember the first time you tasted that slightly crisp yet chewy, airy wonder redolent of butter, offered at the start of a classic Indian meal. It awakens the senses, stimulates the appetite and opens the imagination for the meal to come. There is nothing like it in the Western canon and no technique there that will help you achieve that unforgettable texture and aroma. Fortunately, there is now a book to explain it all for the home cook.
Despite the intense interest in baking nowadays, few people have the knowledge or skills to tackle the wide array of Indian breads that are essential to Indian cuisine. Come to think of it, these breads would also make an excellent addition to any cook’s repertoire and in any context. This marvelous book goes way beyond the familiar naan and includes delicate paratha, fermented dosa, fried bhatura, stuffed and flavored breads, and so many exquisite sounding recipes that I dare anyone to resist running straight to the kitchen after reading it.
The instructions are clear and concise, beautifully illustrated with photographs of various steps. There are descriptions of the ingredients, the necessary tools and techniques as well as a whole array of condiments and sides to accompany the breads. Even the seasoned cook will make many new discoveries here. Of course the breads themselves draw from a tradition that is thousands of years old. They have been perfected by generations of hands plying the dough into perfect form after centuries of experience. All this has been condensed into a single accessible source that will entice both the neophyte and the veteran baker.
I dare say this book will take a place of pride on the cook’s shelf next to classics by Julie Sahni and Madhur Jaffrey. That’s exactly where it will go in my library.
Professor of History and Food Writer
University of the Pacific
In addition to the book, you can also purchase tools– from a tapered Indian rolling pin to a rolling surface, and also cute little jars for storing your instant pickles and relishes.
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