As I start writing this post, I am reminded of a childhood friend. Not sure why, but, then again, I always say food and memories go hand in hand, and it is the memories that lace and add flavor to the food.
Anyhow, back to my friend, she and I would constantly debate what might happen if the world was flat, coming to think of it, I cannot even imagine what prompted us to discuss this and how such a discussion occupied so much of our time. But, conversations often are relevant based on time and place, and sometimes cannot be transported.
The only correlation this has with today’s post is the reference to the word flat, yes, the recipe is for a flatbread. We seem to be generally in a flatbread state of mind, with first this article  and then this recipe , so I thought that this might just be the perfect time to bring in a flatbread recipe for you and to introduce you the beginning of Indian breads. Actually to be very specific, this recipe comes to me by way of a Pakistani friend and is essentially a wholesome cousin of the Naan.
Now, this reference moves me from beyond childhood friend who debated the shape of the world, to my grandmother whose stories often included the flashy pretty sister who was mean and then the simple, homey and very good natured sister. My grandmother (Dida’s) objective was to get me to appreciate and understand that the later was the real deal. Well, not sure if that can be a unversal rule, and I will tell you that the light and buttery naan does taste better, however, health combined with taste, this Khemberi Roti that I present does win.
It is simpler to make and somewhat plainer in appearance, but makes up for its somewhat less glamorous appearance in the goodness of whole grains and ease of preparation.
Most of the everyday Indian flatbreads are made with whole wheat flour, however, the whole wheat Indian flour called atta, is milled slightly differently and therefore has a smoother texture than the regular whole wheat flour that can be found in the flour aisles. I have found this yielding a lighter texture in baked goods as well, in comparison to other whole wheat flours. For baking purposes, I double sift the flour. This is actually a simplified version of a traditional sourdough bread, I think that most of us would agree that doing the overnight fermentation thing with the cooler weather approaching is a little tricky.
However, with the air turning crisper and cooler, you will find this flatbread a wonderful compliment to your curry, stew or soup recipes. This recipe is both vegetarian and actually vegan to boot. I like to finish it off with herb infused olive oil.
So, onto the recipe,
Khemberi Roti – Lightly Leavened Whole Wheat Flatbread
Prep Time: 2hours (including time to let the dough rise)
Cook Time: (15 to 20 minutes)
Serves: 4 to 6
For the leavening
1/2 cup warm whole milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast ( I use one-envelope flieshman’s bread machine yeast)
For the dough
2 cups of whole wheat flour (atta), plus more for rolling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water as needed
For the finish
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
Method of Preparation
1. Place the milk, sugar and yeast in a cup and stir well. Set it aside for about five minutes until the mixture is nice and frothy.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour and mix with the oil and the salt and rub with your fingertips until crumbly and well mixed. Add in the froth yeast mixture and stir well. At this point the mixture should be a little lumpy. Gradually add just enough water to make a smooth round dough, knead for about 2 to 3 minutes until the dough is nice and elastic. Set aside in a warm place such as your oven for about 50 minutes unti the mixture has risen.
3. Mix the mixture well, and set aside to rise again.
4. Break the dough into walnut-sized balls and stir together the oil and the cilantro.
5. Place a flat pan or skillet on the fire for about 1 minute on medium heat.
6. Roll out the dough into 8 inch circles, using flour as needed. Place the flatbread on the skillet and cook on one side for a couple of minutes, turn the flat bread, it should be covered in golden brown spots and it should begin to puff up.
7. Place on a serving platter and continue this with the remainder, stacking the flatbreads as they are complete. These flatbreads are best enjoyed warm with any dish of your choice.
Rinku Bhattacharya is a daytime financial professional, who spends the rest of her time immersed in food. Rinku is the author of the blog, Cooking in Westchester , where she shares her life experiences, original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years, and has found her classes a great way to teach and learn.