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.