Flaky, charry rotis that are the perfect vessel for a spiced chana dhal… this, my friends, is one epic feast. Plan ahead as this does require overnight prep, but goodness – it’s worth going the extra mile!
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp ghee* or butter, plus extra to coat
⅔ cup warm water
¾ cup chana dal (split chickpeas)
2 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 green chilli, chopped
1 tsp garam masala
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 dried red chillies
3 large sprigs fresh curry leaves
Start this recipe the day before with the following prep. For the dhal, place the chana dal in a bowl and cover with water. Cover and set aside overnight to soak. To prep the roti, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the ghee then, using your fingers, rub into the flour mixture until it resembles pebbly sand. Make a well in the centre. Crack in the egg and add the water. Stir until the mixture just comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until it’s soft, smooth and elastic (you can also use a stand mixer using the dough hook attachment if you have one). Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Set aside for 20 minutes to rest.
Once rested, divide dough into 6 equal balls. Add roughly 1/2 teaspoon extra ghee on top of each ball and and lightly rub across the surface. Transfer to an oiled tray. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge to rest overnight.
The next day, continue the dhal by heating the ghee in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and green chilli (feel free to add more if you like it spicy!). Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Stir in the garam masala. Add the tomato. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the tomato has broken down. Drain the chana dal and add to the saucepan along with 1L (4 cups) water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the chana dhal is tender and slightly broken down (be sure to stir every so often to make sure the dhal doesn’t burn). If things are looking a bit thick, add a little more water.
While the dhal is cooking, take the dough balls out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature. Use the palm of your hand to press a dough ball out to an approximate 15cm (6”) circle. Working your way around the edge of the circle, pull and stretch the dough out until it’s very thin and transparent. Then use your fingertips to roll the dough from the top to reach halfway, then roll the bottom of the dough up to meet the top. Roll together. Gently coil the dough, tucking the final edge into the top of the dough. Set aside for 15 minutes to rest. Repeat with the remaining dough.
To temper the dhal, we need to make a spicy, seasoned oil. Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook for a minute until fragrant. Then add the onion, as well as a good pinch of salt, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft and starting to crisp. Add the cumin and dried chillies and cook for 30 seconds. Add the curry leaves and cook for another 30 seconds to infuse the oil further. Pour the oil mixture into the dhal and stir in well. Taste and add more salt if you’d like.
Lightly grease the work surface with some ghee. Using your palm, push the dough spirals out to 15–20cm rounds again.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add a roti and cook, turning often, for 5 minutes or until crisp and starting to char. Transfer the bread to a clean tea towel and then clap your hands around the edge of the roti to separate the layers and puff it up.
Serve the roti immediately with the dhal.
– Ghee is a type of clarified butter commonly used in Indian cuisine, where the water and milk solids have been removed. This gives it a high smoke point, making it ideal to cook with. You can usually find it in most supermarkets.