Orotti is one of the (almost) gluten free flat breads of Kerala. We make orotti with roasted rice flour. It is a very simple recipe with minimum number of ingredients. Orotti when made correctly are ideally very light, thin and soft. Orotti tastes best when had together with coconut milk and spicy curries like chicken or mutton. Yes, first soak them in some fresh coconut milk, and then take a bite after dipping in a spicy gravy. This forms a divinely delicious combination. Orotti or nice pathiri is a perfect choice for dinner with a gravy, and some freshly prepared coconut milk. People make orotti more often during Ramadan. It could be made ahead of time and eaten for Suhoor too. As the name ‘nice’ pathiri suggests, they are very light on tummy.
My mother-in-law prepares awesomely soft, and very delicate orotti. To get it perfect is a big deal indeed. It was not easy for me. I made this after a lot of trials and mishaps. Even now, I don’t think I have met my mother’s standards. She is a real pro. But still they look much much better and were soft too 🙂 Her knack of rolling out the dough into rotis is what I admire the most. She advises me to roll and spread the dough in only one direction, without flipping. And she does that effortlessly. I am still striving to get there!!
So we make orotti using roasted rice flour. And hence the dough requires boiling water for kneading. It is not made with the normal store-bought rice flour with which we usually make idiyappam/ string hoppers. You need to check whether it is roasted flour or not. And you know what, I get a regular supply of this special rice flour. I always have this stocked up at home. Guess who supplies this to me?? None other than the one who taught me how to make them..yes, my Mom. Every time the flour is about to get over, she checks and couriers it. Touchwood, I am one lucky daughter-in-law.. 🙂 She prepares the rice, that is, wash and dry, and then powder it from the mill nearby.
What we usually prepare at my home, in the Malabar, is a thicker version of this roti called aripathil or ari pathiri. We make them with rice flour as well, but mostly with the normal rice flour. For aripathil, we knead the dough with regular water. Also, instead of rolling out the dough using a rolling pin, we press the dough ball placed between two plastic sheets, with a flat plate. You can make string hoppers with the roated flour too, but using boiled water.
So for making orotti, boil water, more than double the amount of flour. Keep the rice flour, salt, and a spoonful of all purpose flour mixed in a bowl. When the water boils, simmer the flame, take out and reserve a little water in a cup. Add the rice flour mixture slowly into the boiling water. Keep mixing with the back of a metal ladle. Once you add all the flour, mix well with the ladle, and if the dough appears to be a bit tight, add more boiled water, that was kept aside earlier. The exact amount of water depends on the quality and type of flour, which depends on the rice that was ground. So I usually boil more than double the amount of flour, keep a little aside, check the consistency and then add if required.
Once mixed, which usually takes 1-2 minutes, switch the flame off and keep it covered for about 5-8 minutes. After that, wet your hands, and start kneading once the heat of the dough is manageable, but still warm. Knead to form a smooth dough without any lumps.
Next make small balls out of it, and roll out in one direction without flipping. Use rice flour for dusting the surface while rolling too. When my Mom prepares, the edges are clean without any cracks. But mine cracks every time. So what I usually do is cut the edges using a circular mould, like a sharp, circular, metal lid. And it works. Remove the excess dough and join it back to form another ball.
Once you have all the orotti rolled out, heat a tawa/ flat pan. Keep a napkin handy to clean the pan after cooking every roti, as the excess rice flour used for dusting comes off. The tawa should be extremely hot while making the orotti. Place the rolled out dough on the tawa. Let it cook until small bubbles begin to appear on the top surface. Then flip it. You can see that the roti puffs up. Cook the edges too. Do not over cook, or it may turn little hard later on. Then take it out of the pan and allow to cool on a paper towel or paper. Repeat for all the orotti and when they cool down a bit, transfer them one by one to the hotpot.
They stay good for a day without refrigerating. In case you refrigerate, you can steam it to reuse the next day. Serve with fresh coconut milk and chicken curry or mutton curry. Check out the recipe for Pepper chicken or spicy mutton gravy like Rogan Josh. Try out with fish curry. If coconut curry, you may skip the coocnut milk part. Try making Kerala Style Coconut Fish Curry.
Do try out this recipe of Orotti or nice pathiri, and let me know how well you mastered it. It definitely is a challenge. But once you pass, then it is all easy. Things become so easy and simple once you get the knack of it. But this needs a lot of practice. So start yours today!!