With 90% of its matter being starch and with the starch granules being the smallest in a line of major cereal granules, like wheat, for one, rice flour has been experimented with in a variety of ways. Aside from garnering accolades as the go-to flour in gluten-free baking, it has chugged its way across scores of favorite plugs back home, with a popular bread variety. While some preparations call for steeping it in boiling water and bringing it to a gloppy, resinous form, some others knead it gently with cold water, sticking to obliging treatments. Meet the well-acclaimed Akki Rotti from down South, or Rice Flour Bread – it isn’t the least bit uppity, and can whet appetites humbly yet surely, be it as a filler, breakfast, brunch, or even dinner when the head-hasher is in the mood to unwind a little.
Traditionally, it would call for some assiduous toiling, tear-shedding and close encounters with heat, thanks to the onions, carrots and fiery hot chillies that require meticulous chopping and grating. But like we said, we’re hoping to let our head-hashers take a chill-pill, so we dutifully acquired some rice flour wisdom, collated by that great kitchen scientist, Harold McGee in his masterpiece, On Food and Cooking. We then came up with a Tadka version that warrants none of the hard work, yet raises the experience of biting into a crispy Rotti to a whole new level. While the red-skinned radishes lend a bittersweet edge to it, the green onions work their acute oniony snap into it sans the tears..all while rice flour holds its own even as it prinks up and imbibes new flavors.
Grate the following in your food processor or blender:
6-8 Red baby radishes
2-3 Green chillies, or according to heat preference
1 ½ Cups of rice flour
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
Salt according to taste
A dash of asafoetida
6-7 Green onion stems, chopped fine
A handful of cilantro, chopped fine
1 Tablespoon ghee, or melted butter
Approximately 1 cup of cold water
Til oil (also known as Gingelly or Sesame Oil)
In a wide-mouthed bowl, throw in the aforementioned ingredients, in that order, mixing well following each addition with your hand or a fork. Add the grated radishes and green chillies, mix well to form a crumbly dough. Add water sporadically, in carefully measured quantities, ensuring that the dough doesn’t get deluged or runny. The final consistency of the dough should be soft and pasty to the touch, a pinch softer than atta or roti dough. Take a fistful of the prepared dough, pat it down on a well-greased pan or skillet until you have a round Rotti about the size of a regular roti or parantha. Indent a tiny circle smack in the center of the Rotti, sprinkle a few drops of til oil (or your heart-healthy oil of choice) into the circle and around the circumference of the Rotti, and cook covered, on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
Using a well-greased metal spatula or flipper, carefully lift the Rotti and flip it over, let cook for a minute or two on the underside. The Rotti should be roasted to a flaxen brown, and nervously brittle to the touch. Remove and serve hot with dry chutney, or any gravy sides of your choice, and enjoy your ravenous family raving about your brand new culinary creation. Run a splash of cold water on the underside of the pan or skillet before you pat down your next Rotti. If there’s a drink you’d like to wash yours down with, snuggle up with a cup of hot coffee — the time-tested concomitant of the renowned Akki Rotti.
- One surefire way to ensure the Rotti will lift easily from your pan or skillet, if using cast iron, is to heat the pan or skillet ahead of time with a few drops of oil, plunge a red chilli in it and rub it along the span of the pan or skillet. Make sure you remove the chilli and cool your pan or skillet before patting the Rotti down.
- You can add in any other vegetables or spices – like shredded cabbage, white radish, peppers (or the standard carrots and onions), red chilli powder, coriander powder, or any other masalas that you might fancy. You could even use an amalgamation of flours in this recipe, like chickpea flour or wheat flour. Be warned though that the outcome then will hardly be Akki Rotti, or Rice Flour Bread in its purest form.