Dhal roti is a flat bread (roti) stuffed with a spiced dhal mash. Similar recipes in the Indian diaspora include Dhal Puri. This South African version of dhal roti is unleavened and is made using just three ingredients flour, boiling water and vegetable oil in the roti dough and melted butter or ghee to coat the cooked roti. The dahl is soaked overnight and cooked with jeera (cumin) coriander and green chilli, then mashed to form the filling of the roti. It is less time consuming than making parotta and requires a little more patience than making plain roti, but is worth the effort. It is best enjoyed with a dry curry like mutton fry or braised chicken or vegetable curries like cauliflower curry or pumpkin curry.
Amma‘s Dhal Roti
Amma‘s dhal roti was made using green gram dhal, a recipe from one of her Hindi friends, synonymous for making the softest roti recipe. Green gram dhal was soaked overnight then braised dry, mashed and rolled into balls to fill roti.
How to Make Dhal Roti
There are two components to dhal roti. The first is preparing the dhal and the second the roti dough.
To prepare the dhal for dhal roti, there are two methods.One is to soak dhal overnight then par boil before combining with fresh coriander and jeera seeds. The second is to braise the dahl then mash before forming balls for the filling. An important factor in both these versions is to make sure the dhal is not too soggy. Just like when making Vedai, use just the right amount of water so that the dhal soaks it up, and in doing so softens the dhal, making it easy to mash.
In this recipe I soaked dhal then par boiled until soft, not mushy, the dhal should be soft but firm to the touch. I combined this with coriander and cumin powder in the food processor to form a cookie dough like texture.
Like Amma‘s soft roti recipe, the roti dough in this recipe is made from a ratio of 2 parts flour: 1 part water.The third ingredient is a tablespoon of vegetable oil. This is one of the factors that accounts for soft perfect roti. South African roti is generally unleavened, there is no need to use baking powder to make soft roti. In my opinion you don’t need roti makers, pressers or cookers either. A thawa or non stick pan works best. The key is to heat the pan before cooking the roti.
To compose the dhal roti, roll out roti dough into circles then place a ball of dhal in the middle. Wrap over the dhal with dough then roll flat. The key to success is to roll gently to prevent the dhal from seeping through the bread. Fir this keep the counter dusted with flour to prevent sticking and roll gently.
South African Dhal Roti Recipe
South African Dhal Roti Recipe
- 1 cup mung dhal or split pea dhal
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds or jeera powder
- optional fresh green chillies
- 4 cups flour
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup flour for dusting the work surface
- 1/2 cup melted butter or ghee for spreading over cooked roti
- Soak the dhal in water overnight.
- Bring to boil until soft to the touch, the dhal should retain its form yet be soft when pressed.
- Remove from stove, combine with jeera, coriander and salt. Blend or smash with a masher until a biscuit dough like texture forms.
- Roll into 2-3cm diameter balls. Set aside or place in the fridge while you prepare the roti dough.
- Boil the water. Add to flour. Add oil.
- Combine to form a soft dough. The dough will look thick and rough at first, it requires kneading, for at least 5 minutes. Once the dough is smooth, cover and set aside.
- This also the dough to rest binding the gluten structures in the flour-accounting for soft roti. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Heat the thawa or pan on stove. Melt butter or ghee for spreading.
- Separate the dough into 12 balls 5-6 cm in diameter. Use enough dough to cover the dhal balls.
- Roll out dough balls into circles. Place a dhal ball in the middle and wrap dough around to form a ball.
- Press flat and gently roll until flat. Use the flour for dusting to keep the work surface non stick.
- I prefer cooking the roti once I have finished rolling all.
- Place each roti on the thawa or pan. Cook for a minute on one side before turning. Cook for 2-3 minutes on the next side.
- The roti should puff up at this stage. Apply melted ghee or butter then turn the roti over. Cook for another minute or so then place on a plate. Cover with a clothe to keep rot soft
- Enjoy with your favourite curry or with butter and jam.