Don’t ask me why, but I love the word “quintessential”. My problem lies in using it in the correct context and after a few chats with my partner, I think I have got it. So it is with great confidence that I say that “Akki rottis” are a quintessentially Kannada dish. These rice based flatbreads comes from the state of Karnataka where I grew up and are a popular breakfast or light dinner option. The word “akki” means rice, usually uncooked. The word “rotti” means bread, usually unleavened. This flatbread is soft and crunchy at the same time, is full of tasty veggies and has a slight sweetness because of the cucumber and rice flour which I love. I always took a lion’s share of “rottis” when mum made them at home and wolfed them down with a smattering of butter.
This was my first attempt at making it myself after I’d spent the entire afternoon at work day-dreaming about it. It was a big hit with my partner and at lunch the next day. I’ll be making some more soon I’m sure. Hope you try it and like it too.
Ingredients (serves two hungry adults or 4 not-so-hungry ones):
2 and 1/2 cups of rice flour
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 a cucumber, grated
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds (optional)
a pinch of salt
1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead into a ball. The cucumber should have enough moisture to bring the dough together.
2. If the dough is still a little dry, sprinkle just enough water to make a sticky ball (picture 1).
3. Grease a large frying pan with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and place the dough in the middle (picture 2). If it is a good quality, non stick pan, then use 1 teaspoon of oil or none at all if you are being healthy.
4. Using your fingers and palms, press the dough evenly into the pan so it is about 5-7mm thick and rises up the sides of the pan (picture 3).
5. Make little holes in the centre of the rotti with your finger and fill them with a few drops of oil (picture 4).
6. Cover the pan with a lid and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes on a slow heat (pictures 5, 6 and 7). The heat cooks the underside, making it crunchy while the steam cooks the inner-side, keeping it soft and moist.
7. You will know the rotti is done when it leaves the sides of the pan and starts to curve towards the centre. In addition, the little holes you made will have brown rings around them.
8. At this point, you can flip the rotti to see if the base has gained a beautiful brown colour. This is another indication that the rotti is ready to eat.
9. Serve it hot with a dollop of butter or with a serving of yoghurt. If you are a vegan, the rotti on its own is quite tasty so eat it as is.
Akki = “Ak” as in muck + key
Rotti = “Ro” as in roll + t + tea