One thing that amazes me when I visit India now is the number of food joints (fast and slow :-)) and the people patronizing them any time of the day and week. Our restaurant visits were extremely rare while growing up and the shift in eating habits seem so exaggerated now. Before the the food joints started displaying authentic, rustic food items on their menu, the only place to go to was your own kitchen which is where all the action was.
Bili rotti as we called it to recognize the pure white color of the rotti except for the roasted spots is made from cooked rice flour and does not have any masalas or additives except for salt. Since it gets cooked twice, it is meant to be a good food even when people have digestive problems. It is a little time consuming and labor intensive process but your will forget all about it as you enjoy the silky soft rottis. Typical side dish for this rotti is badanekayi Ennegayi (Enne~oil, kayi~refers to eggplants called badane kaayi in Kannada) which is a flavorful eggplant dish. When made during summer months, nammamma always made Mango Seekarane in addition to the ennegayi as side dishes for the bili rotti.
Nammamma prepared rice flour for this specially at home, she would wash and shade dry rice inside the house and make a fine powder of it. This is called toledakki hittu (toleda~washed, akki~rice, hittu~powder/flour). She says rice flour made thus makes the softest bili rottis. I use the regular store bought rottis and as long as you get the dough soft and knead it well, you will get soft rottis.
What do you need to make Bili rotti?
1.5 cups rice flour
3+1/4 cup water
1/2 Tsp cooking oil
1 Tsp salt
1/2 cup rice flour for dusting
How do you make Bili rotti?
- Take water, salt and oil in a thick bottom, slightly deep pan and let it come to a gentle boil.
- Add the 1.5 cups of rice flour and let it continue to boil for 2-3 minutes, do not mix or disturb at this time, keep the pan covered.
- Remove the cover, simmer the heat, with the help of a long wooden spoon, mix the rice flour vigorously into the water to form a lump.
- Cover and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Switch off the stove, let it stand for 5 minutes.
- Take the cooked lump of the dough into a gallon size zip lock cover, close it, put a towel on top and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes.
- Pinch off lemon sized ball, knead for a minute and roll it into a circular rotti with a rolling pin, dusting it with rice flour as necessary.
- Heat a flat tawa (preferably cast iron), put the rotti on the tawa, sprinkle drops of cool water on top, let it cook for a couple of minutes.
- When you see spots puffing up on the surface, flip it to the other side, sprinkle a few drops of water and let it cook to get light brown spots.
- Repeat until you finish up all the dough.
- We ate it with the delicious mango seekarane and simple eggplant fry.
- This rotti takes longer to cook than the wheat flour rotis. Keep the heat on medium.
- There is no oil used in roasting these rottis, sprinkling water to the rotti helps it to become softer. Dip your hand in a bowl of cool water and use a spraying motion on top of the rotti.
- Once you have kneaded the cooked dough, keep it inside the zip lock and take only the portions you are ready to roll into rottis. It helps if the dough is still warm.
- Since there is no gluten like the wheat flour, this rotti dough needs more kneading.
- A simple trick to get rottis to roll easily without tearing is to flatten the ball of dough and smoothen the edges before starting to roll it out.