Roti, an Indian pan bread rich in spices, embodies the childhood of Sarit Cherry, as a daughter of an Indian family that immigrated to Israel from Mumbai in the 1960s and settled in Dimona. Sarit was born in Israel, but grew up surrounded by her extended family. Her two grandmothers – Elizabeth Sugauker (on her mother’s side) and Shoshana Cherry (on her father’s side) – would prepare roti every day. “Among Indians, they knead roti dough every morning. Every time someone enters the house during the day – they make a fresh roti on the pan in minutes, and by evening the bowl of dough is gone. The next day they make new dough,” says Sarit. In India, roti is used commonly as daily bread for both Jews and non-Jews, however, in Jewish households, it had two additional important roles. “My grandfather was a rabbi and the family’s lifestyle was religious, the Tisha B’Av fast, grandfather would end with a blessing on the roti.” The roti dough was also used to fulfill the mitzvah of parshat challah.
Ingredients for Roti - Indian pan bread
- 2.2 lbs (1 kilogram) flour
- 2½ cups (600 ml) water lukewarm
- 2 tablespoons (20 grams) Salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- about ½ cup cilantro finely chopped (or however much you like)
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds whole and toasted
- 2 teaspoons
Prepare the dough:
1. Put all the ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment and mix at medium speed until the dough is uniform and pliable.
2. Cover with a towel and set aside to rest for at least half an hour.
3. Divide the dough into 12 large balls or about 20 small balls, cover the balls with a towel and leave to rest for about fifteen minutes.
4. Roll out each ball of dough into a flat circle about ¼-inch (½ cm) thick and the diameter of the pan (for small roti around 7¾"/20 cm diameter and for large roti 11"/28 cm).
5. Heat a non-stick pan (preferably a shallow pan or crepe pan) and transfer one of the dough circles to it - there is no need to oil the pan. Toast the roti and when it swells a little, flip it to the other side with tongs. Cook for another minute or two, until the bottom is brown, and transfer to a serving plate. In India, after frying on the pan, it is customary to lightly burn the roti over an open fire, so that it gets more bubbles and char marks.
In December 2021, we launched the first festival of its kind in the country, which aims to revive home baked goods that are disappearing from the landscape to ensure that they will remain with us for many years to come. We started by researching and locating nine bakers from different ethnicities who prepare traditional pastries that are now extinct, we connected them to 9 selected bakeries from around the country and launched the festival of lost pastries: ten days in which each bakery prepared one pastry and offered it for sale.
About the bakery:
Pastry chef Mikkel Yitbarek from Elhanan bread culture in Pardes Hana-Karkur prepared the roti during the festival and served it as a sandwich with labneh, lentil curry, roasted vegetables, mint and lettuce (there was also a labneh-free vegan version). He chose roti because it reminds him a little of the Ethiopian pan breads he grew up on (his father emigrated to Israel from Ethiopia and when Michael and his brothers were children the family moved to Paris, where his father opened a successful Ethiopian restaurant, which has been around for more than 20 years) – and also because shortly after Michael emigrated to Israel again From Paris as an adult, he met Bruti through a neighbor who lived next to him in the kibbutz. “She was a charming and gentle woman of Indian origin,” says Michael. “She didn’t have children, only brothers and nephews who lived in the south of the country. We became very good friends, and I would visit her and she would tell me about life in India. She would strengthen me with stories about when she emigrated to Israel, about the difficulties on the one hand and the sense of belonging on the other, and when she found out that I was a chef – she also spoke longingly about her kitchen (she could no longer cook for herself). When her family members came to visit, they would bring a lot of food with them, and always made sure to leave me a packet of roti wrapped in aluminum foil. For me, the festival was an opportunity to remember generosity and connections formed around food.”