Oh, how I love finding naturally gluten-free breads and desserts from these countries I’m visiting. The recipes are special namely for what they don’t have, like a long list of ingredients like xanthan gum or egg replacer. They make life so much easier for me, and I imagine, you too. Even if you’re not gluten-free yourself, I’m guessing you probably know somebody who is. And I know having them over for meals can be, well, a little bit tricky. I actually feel guilty when a dinner host has to make special accommodations for me or run to the health food store to buy special ingredients. That’s where foods like rotti can save the day.
Rottis are a pan-fried soft bread, similar to Indian nan, that are made with toasted rice flour. Even with some coconut thrown into the mix, I found them super versatile. I ate them alone with a smidgen of butter, dipped them into extra curry sauce, used one to make an open-faced sandwich. All great options.
The best part about this recipe? It has only four ingredients. And two of them are things you without a doubt already have: water and salt. The only thing that makes these slightly time consuming is toasting the rice flour and coconut. But you don’t need any rise time for this bread, so I’d say it all just about evens out.
Coconut Rotti- Sri Lankan Coconut Rice Bread
Yield: 6 rotti
* 2 cups rice flour
* 1/2 cup unsweetened, dried and shredded coconut
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* approximately 1 to 1-1/2 cups water
Place the rice flour in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir the flour continuously to ensure even toasting. Remove from heat when the rice flour has darkened several shades and emits a toasted aroma. Place the toasted rice flour in a large bowl.
In the same skillet, toast the coconut, stirring constantly, just until it begins to turn golden (note: toasting the coconut second will help unstick any toasted rice flour that's stuck in the grooves of your pan if you have a textured pan like me). Add the coconut to the rice flour and add salt. Stir to combine. Add just enough water to make a soft dough. Knead it until it forms a ball and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. To test the moisture level, roll a bit of the dough in your hand and press it flat. It should easily stay in one piece but it should also have some cracking around the edges. If your edges are totally smooth, you've added too much water. In this case you can add a bit more un-toasted rice flour to the mixture.
Roll the dough into balls about the size of a golf ball. Place each ball between two pieces of waxed paper and use your palm or a rolling pin to flatten to your desired thickness. If you're a rotti newbie like me you might want to keep them on the thicker side; if you make them too thin, the can break easily.
Fry on a preheated, lightly greased griddle or frypan over medium to medium-high heat until it begins to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until golden.
Adapted from Fire and Spice: The Cuisine of Sri Lanka