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Sizzling rotis are pure bliss

When our daughter-in-law called my wife requesting her to add brandy also to the dry fruits soaking in rum, I remembered the times when alcohol was a taboo and vice. Liquor outlets existed only in faraway cities.

When my wife’s maiden attempt to uncork a bottle failed, my little experience of the Bacchanalian kind came in handy. The assortment of alcohol-soaked dry fruits was to add punch to cakes for Christmas and New Year.

All these let me reminisce about the chapatis and makki ki rotis that mother used to cook. Making a perfect round of corn dough and then baking it on a wood-fired chullah is a skill that women of my native place in Himachal Pradesh know to perfection.

On embers

From the tawa, mother would shift the roti directly onto embers and it would puff up, firing our appetite. It was savoured with sarson ka saag and chhachh (buttermilk).

No one in the village had heard of cakes then. Mother used to raise wheat dough with a seedling preserved from the previous day. No yeast granules in her kitchen.

Incubated in layering of cloth to required warmth, the dough will be crafted into rotis in the morning and spread on to a changeir, a large bamboo tray. The smaller tray is called a changeiratu.

After about two hours more of fermentation, these bhaturoos made their journey onto an optimally heated tawa for an unhurried baking and were served hot. On festivals, the bhaturoos were deep-fried. Sometimes, they were stuffed with soaked, pulverised urad dal and deep-fried the way kachoris are.

Babroos were small deep-fried rotis of sweetened fermented dough. Another delicacy in my part of the State was thin soft rotis of rice flour akin to a plain dosa, called ainkalies, that were savoured with hot sweetened milk and mash ki daal.

Winter treat

Makki ki roti stuffed with boiled and mashed kachaloo (arbi), called behadawin roti, was a winter treat.

Salted rotis made from a mixture of corn, wheat and rice flour with a liberal addition of finely chopped fresh leaves of methi, saunf, dhania, radish, turnip and green chillies were tawa-fried and relished with home-made mango pickle. It was pure bliss.

At present, looking at dry fruits soaked in rum and brandy to be added to cakes, I remember the variety of rotis we cherished to forge our health.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 3:45:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/sizzling-rotis-are-pure-bliss/article33586867.ece

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