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Roti Maker

Rotis are the Indian version of tortillas and a roti maker is the same thing as a tortilla maker or tortilla press

"Roti" means "bread" in India and is commonly used to describe many types of leavened and and unleavened breads but the basic roti is a thin round of flour that is grilled and (ideally) puffed up on a skillet which is virtually identical to a tortilla.

Here is a typical electric roti maker that works well in most modern homes:

Revel Tortilla & Roti Maker                  revel.roti.maker
* Makes Tortilla,Roti,Chapathi,Pani Puri, etc
* Durable ergonomic press handle
* Auto “On/Off” ready light
* Compact stand-up storage
* Built-in cord winder
* Chrome finish casing for durability
* Engineered for Uniform Cooking
* Better Quality Non-stick Surface
* Evenly heated, top and bottom plates
* Easy Clean Chrome Finish Body

Just like with tortillas, rotis are best cooked manually although a roti maker can do a lot of the work for you.  The recommendation is to press and pre-cook the roti and then finish it over an open gas flame but with a little practice and trial-and-error, one can do an excellent job of finishing authentic rotis right on an electric roti maker itself as shown below.  It takes a little practice but the end result is an easy-to-make, healthy and delicious addition to your menu. Here's a video of a roti maker in action. The ones that puff up are called "phulka":

Puffy Rotis at Home

But just in case you'd like to see how it's done manually, here is another video of an expert roti (chapati) maker at work. Note how she rolls out the flour while rotating it at the same time to ensure a perfect round. Also note how this is virtually identical to making tortillas:

How to make Chapatis-Expert at work

Rotis come in wheat flour and corn flour varieties just like tortillas and are grilled, baked, roasted, pan fried or deep fried in various shapes, sizes and thicknesses. However, although "roti" denotes "bread" in general, it is most commonly used as a generic term for unleavened flatbread while the other types have their own names.  And just to confuse the issue a little more, the type that is typically made in roti/tortilla makers is acutally called a chapati which is usually on the thinner side. You will therefore find these machines being called 'chapati makers' too.

The mysterious connection
Strangely enough, rotis are not the only food items that are common to India and Mexico and it is a mystery how so many things came to be so similar between two cultures that are literally on opposite sides of the globe, seperated by thousands of miles of ocean and continents, but rotis are one of them!

Some other similarities in cusine are the common spices--cumin, cilantro, coriander, cinnamon, peppercorns, chilies and so on. Indian curry is strikingly similar to the Mexican mole (pronounced 'molay'). So are the use of bean sauces and 'Spanish rice' which is similar to the Indian Pulao and of course, the tortilla and roti which are exactly alike.  In fact, a typical Mexican meal of tortillas, beans, onions and chilies would be quite at home in the Punjab!

It is theorized that the Spanish brought this cuisine with them after having adapted it from the Andalusian Muslims of Spain who in turn had brought it from ancient India via the Persians and Arabs. This theory seems plausible but the mystery remains because you will find rotis and tortillas nowhere else but in India and Mexico (and of course the parts of ancient India known today as Pakistan and Bangladesh). Variations of it can be found all around the world and especially in the flatbreads of the Far East, Middle East and North Africa. But the roti you will find only in India and Mexico! 

Other types of Indian 'roti':
Chapati - the regular wheat flour tortilla
Phulka - a puffed up chapati  ('phul' means flower or bloom)
Paratha - a pan fried roti which comes in stuffed and 'plain' varieties
Puri - a deep fried roti that typically puffs up
Naan - thicker leavened bread baked in an oven rather than roasted on a skillet
Kulcha - a naan-type bread that is deep fried
Bhatura - similar to kulcha
Luchi - another name for puri

Other types of roti or flatbreads, by country:
Indonesia and Malaysia - roti canai
Singapore - roti prata
Sri Lanka - pol roti, kottu roti
Caribbean (where a lot of ethnic Indians live): - sada roti, paratha roti,dosti roti, dhalpuri
Greece & Mediterranean - pita
Egypt - aish mehahra
Israel - matzo
Italy - pizza (yes, the very same!)
Turkey - yufka

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