Jowar or Sorghum rotis , flat breads, are popular in many parts of South India. In fact we had our first taste of taste of Jowar Roti at Hampi in Karnataka. These Jolada Roties, as they were called locally, are soft and extremely delicious. They have more of a melt in the mouth quality compared to the more common wheat rotis.
Rotis are flat breads typically unleavened and made fresh on demand. It is fascinating to watch ladies in the villages making these by hand. Usually a wood burning stove is set on the floor and the cook sits close by, and flattening the dough by hand and at the same time cooking another one on the fire. No rolling pin or board needed. Their deft hand movements has the feel of a well coordinated orchestra.
The other facinating aspect of sorghum is that it is gluten free. This poses some challenge when it comes to bread making. The flat bread is extremely fragile as there is no protein network holding it together. To get around this gluten free flours like rice and sorghum are kneaded using hot water to turn some starch to gelatin, which helps hold the shaped breads together.
As I mentioned above, I am in awe of the skill of the cooks. I have tried and failed to do these by hand .. So here I go to my trusted rolling pin ..
Dust the board the the dough ball generously before rolling out the dough.
Place the discs on a hot tawa or griddle and brush water on top . Traditionally a piece of wet cloth was used to press on top, but brushing a little water works perfectly well. Once the water looks evaporated flip the disc. If you see excess dust give a quick brush with water on this side as well. The water prevents cracks from forming on the surface of the roti as it puffs up .
At this point one can finish cooking by flipping it a couple more times to cook evenly on both sides. When the stars align properly you may get a big puffed up roti :-). It takes a little practice , but puffed up or not this is a soft and delicious roti .
See the cracks on the bread ? Without the water these cracks develop sooner leading to a dry and brittle flat bread .
Here is another way to finish cooking. Place it over open flame. A few seconds on each side is all it takes.
Happy Cooking !!!