The first recipe I cooked while visiting my parents is one of my favorite breakfast foods, akki or rice flour roti. It’s a homemade speciality from my mother’s state of Karnataka in South India. The roti is made from rice flour, coconut, cilantro and green chilis and kneaded into a loose dough that you spread out onto the surface of a wok and fry with oil. It kind of looks like a tostada and I remember when I was younger thinking it would make a nice hat to cover my supreme bowl haircut, but it also tastes great!
Friends who have come over to eat it remark that they have never tasted or seen anything like it. I had wanted to learn this recipe for some time and trying it out for the first time, I realized it’s actually not that difficult to make. It’s really fun too because it’s one of those messy recipes where you get to play with the dough a lot and at the end you’ve made something that looks kind of out of this world.
Within Karnataka, there are several ways to make akki roti. This version is from Mysore, where my grandmother is from. Other versions are made flat on a skillet or with another type of dough called ragi (finger millet). While cooking, my mother mentioned that in my grandfather’s home, they would eat it with some homemade butter in the middle of the roti. I like to eat mine with yogurt mixed with some hot Indian pickle or chutney.
Akki Roti (Rice Roti)
2 1/2 cups rice flour (Swad brand is good)
1/3 cup frozen fresh grated coconut
1 medium onion, finely chopped (~1 cup)
3 green chilis, finely chopped
8 fresh curry leaves, rough chop
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
couple pinches asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup water
oil for frying
Melt butter in a saucepan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix up flour, coconut, onion, chilis, curry leaves, cilantro, asafoetida, cumin seeds and salt. Next add the melted butter and mix it up. Slowly add in 1 cup of water little by little and knead until the dough comes together. It should be quite loose and nowhere near as tight as a bread dough.
Divide dough into 5 equal dough balls. Put 2 teaspoons of oil in the wok and rub the oil all over the inside with your hand. Take one dough ball and spread it along the inside surface of the wok evenly with the back of your hand. (It’s OK if it breaks in a couple areas because this just makes it crunchy there.) Next with your finger, make 3 holes in the dough at the center of the wok. Take 1 teaspoon of oil and put it in these holes and along the top rim of the dough.
Turn the heat to medium and cover with a lid. I like the dough crunchy so I cook for about 15 minutes and check on it from time to time. It will start to brown a bit and when finished you will be able to slide it out of the wok. Another trick also that my mom taught me to even out the cooking is to use a set of tongs to tilt the wok down and around so the top edges of the roti are closer to the flame for a bit. (If this sounds scary to you don’t try it haha)
Before you make your next roti, run cold water on the bottom of the wok to cool it down.
Serve with butter, yogurt, chutney or Indian pickle.