This traditional Guyanese flatbread is a staple of a top-of the line Guyanese meal, and probably the most important single dish after rice for a Guyanese cook to learn. For Indian cooking, you can find flatbreads in many shapes and sizes- na’an being the most popular; however truly Caribbean cooking always incorporates roti rather than other rising flatbreads thanks to a strong Punjabi tradition in Trinidad, Guyana, and Jamaica. Serve this dish with curries and main dishes, and it will become the only utensil you will need for the meal; simply tear a piece of roti, and use it with your fingers to grab the dish- eat and enjoy!
- 8 cups (2 lbs/1 kg) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 to 2.5 cups water
- ~ 1 cup vegetable oil and/or melted ghee
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add water and mix to form a soft dough, using a little extra water if necessary. Knead dough smooth and elastic (the better kneaded, the better the roti). Cover and let rest for one hour, or until risen to double its size.
Divide dough into 8 equal parts and shape into smooth balls. On a floured surface, roll out the balls to a circle of about 5 to 6 inches. Place a teaspoon of oil/ghee in the center and spread almost to the edges using the back of the spoon. Cut a line from middle point to edge. Pick up the cut edge and roll it clockwise into a cone shape. When you have nearly reached the end of the cone, stretch remaining piece of dough under the back of the cone and firmly press into the base. Place back on work surface, press down and reshape into a ball. Continue with the remaining dough, then let sit for 20 minutes.
Flour your work surface. Heat a large frying pan or tawa over medium heat. Roll a ball of oiled dough out to form a circle an eighth of an inch thick and about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Place on tawa and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the surface begins to bubble and rise. Turn the roti and spread a teaspoon of oil over the entire surface and repeat. Cook both sides until lightly grilled.
After each roti cooks, turn it onto a plate. Hold cooked roti in one hand and let go, catching it with a clapping motion with both hands. Do this two times to separate the layers (use a towel if hot). Keep warm on a plate lined and covered with cloth until service.