Of all the flat breads in the world, roti may just be the most beloved. Found across the Indian subcontinent in myriad forms throughout different cultures, it has a place at every table, and for every meal. This staple food has sustained generations and remains just as essential as a nutritious necessity to this day.
Two ingredient vegan roti is the best way to break into bread-making. It’s as close to instant gratification as you can get when making bread from scratch, and no experience is required. It’s impossible to go wrong with this fool-proof recipe that comes from the cookbook Plant-Based Himalaya by Babita Shrestha.
Yes, roti are vegan! Many flatbreads are sadly laden with dairy in the form of butter, ghee, yogurt, or fresh cheese, but roti is one option that is traditionally plant-based.
Most recipes just use flour, water, and sometimes salt and oil, which means there are no animal products involved. Always ask at restaurants or check ingredient labels to be 100% certain.
Roti and chapati are two very similar flat breads with names that roughly translate the same way, simply as “bread.” Sometimes the names are even used interchangeably, adding to the confusion.
The key difference is that chapati tend to be richer, with more oil and salt, which also makes them denser and chewier while roti are a bit lighter and crisper.
Paratha are also closely related to these two but are made with a generous amount of butter that makes rich, flaky layers throughout. They’re more labor-intensive and time-consuming as a result.
Naan are quite different, being thick and fluffy due to the inclusion of yeast and often yogurt. They’re often cooked with a generous amount of butter and garlic, making them quite decadent. Naan can also be stuffed with things like spiced potatoes, sautéed onions, dried fruits, and more.
The simplest recipes can sometimes be the most difficult to master, but that’s not the case once you know a how to make vegan roti with ease. Here are some expert tips to master making roti on your first try.
1. Getting the dough to the right texture is the most important factor. It should be soft and pliable, smooth and slightly tacky, but not wet or sticky. If it’s too loose, add more flour. If it’s too dry, drizzle in more water just a few teaspoons at a time.
2. Let the dough rest for 5 to 10 minutes to let the gluten relax. This will make it easier to roll flat. Keep it covered during this time to prevent it from drying out or cracking.
3. Use your hands to begin flattening out individual balls before switching over to a rolling pin. Make sure the rolling pin is coated in flour to keep it from sticking to the dough.
4. Preheat your pan while rolling so that it’s ready to go when you are. Cook for a few minutes on each side, flipping when lightly browned in spots and puffed all over.
Consider plain roti your blank canvas to adorn any way your heart desires! Here are just a few flavorful mix-ins to add when you want to spice up the usual routine:
Yes! You can make roti with your favorite gluten-free flour blend. Just bear in mind that the texture might be slightly different. You won’t have to knead as much or wait between kneading and rolling either.
Leftover roti can keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Once cooled, separate them between pieces of parchment paper and store in an airtight, zip-top bag. Reheat for 15 to 30 seconds in the microwave before serving. For longer term storage, extra roti can be stored in the freezer for roughly 6 months. Reheat for approximately 60 seconds in the microwave, or until warm all the way through.
A tawa (a shallow cast iron or aluminum pan) is what’s traditionally used to cook roti, but a simple non-stick skillet, crepe pan, or basic frying pan works just as well.
This incredible vegan roti recipe comes from Plant-Based Himalaya: Vegan Recipes from Nepal by Babita Shrestha. Babita shares 38 mouthwatering recipes from her home country with over 250 beautiful photos to walk you through the steps.
Babita Shrestha is a plant-based chef, photographer, graphic designer, cookbook author and creative mind behind Vegan Nepal. Babita grew up in the Terai region of Nepal and as the oldest child of the family, it was her responsibility to cook, which quickly grew into a true passion of hers.
Babita not only does a fabulous job of introducing Nepal to the readers, but also highlights her goals of decreasing mass production and consumption of unhealthy processed foods. This book is inspiring and will help you to eat exquisite vegan Nepali cuisine in your own home!
Thanks to our recipe testers Jessica Sabbagh and Ruth Havertz.
From Plant-Based Himalaya by Babita Shrestha, published by Red Lightning Books, copyright © 2022 by Babita Shrestha. Reprinted by permission of Red Lightning Books. Article written with support by Hannah Kaminsky and edited by Rachel Lessenden. Photos by J.J. Steele for World of Vegan, all rights reserved.