Roti Recipe | Phulka Recipe | Chapati Recipe

1 year ago 156

Whether you call this everyday staple Indian bread, Roti or Phulka or Chapati, one thing remains unchanged: it is a humble, comforting and satisfying food that is made in nearly every part of India. Roti is an unleavened flatbread made with just a handful of ingredients – finely milled whole wheat flour, water and optionally ghee or oil and salt. It goes perfectly with just about every Indian entrée you can think of. I share 3 ways of making roti.

roti smeared with ghee on a white plate with two white bowls of paneer curry and chopped red onions placed above on a cream cotton fabric

About Roti

The flatbread known as roti has many variations all over different regions of India. Whereas I call this particular type of roti, phulka, hubby just refers to them as roti. Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe, phulka or roti. Either way is correct!

That said, much like the word “bread” can mean everything from a slice of sandwich bread to a French baguette, roti is also a broad category of flatbreads. While all phulkas are rotis, not all rotis are phulkas.

Other types of roti varieties include missi roti, rumali roti, ragi roti, and tandoori roti, among others. All these roti variants taste different as they are made with different grain flours (like millet); or have various unique seasonings; mashed or chopped greens like spinach; or herbs added to the dough.

About Phulka

Phulka is a Hindi word, which means to puff. These roti gets puffed up when exposed to dry heat, hence the name. This puffing up can be achieved either on a direct flame or on a tava, which is a concave flat pan for making roti.

Mostly, to make phulka, first the roti is partially cooked on the skillet and then placed over a stove-top flame which helps it to puff.

They have a spectrum of thickness that is considered acceptable, from the very thin phulkas of Gujarat (called rotli) to a more medium-thickness roti as I make here.

The phulka can be smeared with ghee or oil for serving. In my home, we definitely enjoy a bit of ghee on our roti. It is one of our favorite things to eat with veggie dishes like aloo gobi, aloo matar, bhindi masala, lauki kofta or with dals like dal fry, dal tadka, or dal makhani.

About Chapati

A chapati is a very rustic version of roti. The word “chapati” is derived from a Marathi word chapat which means “flat”. Instead of rolling out the dough, traditionally chapatis were flattened by hand.

Of course, it is time consuming to flatten the chapati this way, so nowadays a rolling pin is often used. A chapati can be also thin or medium rolled, much like phulka.

Chapati are only roasted on the skillet or tawa. While roasting they may puff or not. Roasting them with oil or ghee is also optional.

As far as the dough is concerned the same dough is used to make roti, phulka and chapati. This basic simply consists of whole wheat flour, salt and water. Fats like oil or ghee are optionally included. I prefer to add some oil or ghee in the dough as it makes these flatbreads soft.

Difference Between Phulka and Chapati

Chapati is also made on a tava and can puff or partly puff. Unlike the dry heat used to make phulka, oil may be used while roasting the chapatis on the tava. Also unlike phulkas, the chapati never gets roasted on an open flame, cooking all the way through on a tava.

Chapati is usually larger in size than a phulka which is smaller in size. There is also a version of chapati made in Maharashtra known as ‘poli,’ where the rolled dough is layered with oil/ghee and folded thrice before rolling again. This process of lamination is similar to the way we make parathas in Northern India.

Difference Between Roti and Paratha

Paratha are also flatbreads but they are layered with ghee, folded and rolled. This layering and folding method give the paratha a soft texture from inside with a well toasted crispy and flaky crust from outside. A Roti is simply rolled once and not layered. This is the key difference between roti and paratha.

Paratha is made plain simple or stuffed with vegetable stuffings. The vegetables are mashed or finely chopped or grated. The stuffing can be mixed with the dough or layered as a single filling inside the dough. There are many variants of paratha that are made in the Indian cuisine.

What Kind Of Flour For Roti

These flatbreads are always made from whole wheat flour and water, though ghee and salt may or may not be added. I prefer adding some salt and ghee to the dough for a bit of extra flavor and a more tender result.

The whole wheat flour used for making these flatbreads is known as “atta” in India. Even today, many Indians make their own atta by visiting local grinding mills (called chakki in Hindi). The wheat grains are stone ground making for a really fine flour.

If you do use the wheat flour milled in the United States or Europe or any other country, then sift the flour once or twice to get rid of the bran. Atta is finely milled and ground than the wheat flour that is available outside India.

The best, softly textured roti comes from sharbati wheat that is cultivated and grown in the Madhya Pradesh state. I use this sharbati wheat flour to make roti, and if it is possible for you to get your hands on some, I highly recommend it. 

Living outside India? Buy atta from an Indian grocery store or from Amazon or other Indian online stores. Preferably use sharbati atta to get soft and tender roti and also try to get organic atta.

As the rotis are made from whole wheat flour, they are both healthy and easy to digest. In this post, I will explain the basic method of making roti or phulka in 3 ways so you can have this yummy Indian staple at home. Let’s get started!

Step-by-Step Guide

Knead Roti Dough

1. Take 3 cups of whole wheat flour/atta in a bowl. Add salt according to taste. Add a bit of water and ghee or oil and start mixing. You can measure and keep about 1 to 1.25 cups of water that you will be kneading depending upon the quality of the flour.

3 cups of flour might be difficult to handle and work upon. So you can reduce the quantity of flour if needed.

1. If your whole wheat flour has a lot of bran then sieve it.
2. I am showing the process of kneading the dough with hands. But feel free to knead the roti dough in a stand mixer.

loosely mixed wheat flour with water, salt and ghee

2. Adding water to the dough in parts, begin to knead the dough.

initial stage of kneading dough for roti - the dough is quite craggy and hasn't formed a single piece

3. Continue to knead the dough. Keep adding water as required, knocking the dough down as you knead to create more gluten.

TIP: If you add all the water at once, then the flour will become too sticky to handle. So add in parts as needed.

At the final stage of kneading the dough, some people prefer to throw the dough from a height of approximately 1 to 2 feet to the bowl while kneading. This helps in making the dough soft. I personally prefer to apply pressure from my fist rather than using the throwing method. In the pic below you can see the hand posture which is used to knead the dough.

kneading dough for phulka recipe using just my hands

4. Keep on kneading till the dough becomes pliable and soft. The final dough consistency should be neither sticky nor hard. The dough for rotis is more softer than the dough kneaded for Poori.

After kneading the dough, cover it with a plate or cloth and allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. While you can make the roti straight away after kneading the dough, this 30 minute waiting period helps the gluten relax, which makes it easier to roll out.

NOTE: You can also use a stand mixer or roti maker appliances to knead the dough if you prefer.

soft and smooth roti dough in a black bowl

Step-by-Step Guide

Roll Roti Dough

5. Now make small to medium balls of the dough. Roll the balls in the palms of your hands to smoothen it. Flatten the ball and place them on a rolling board or a clean kitchen countertop.

Sprinkle some whole wheat flour on the dough ball. Alternatively, you can also dust the rolling board with flour.

dough ball on a white marble board that has been sprinkled with flour for rolling

7. Turn on the gas stove and put the tawa to make it hot. The tawa has to be sufficiently hot to make soft roti. I generally make rotis on a medium-high flame.

NOTE: On “sim” or low flame, the roti become hard; and on a very high flame they cook too fast. So regulate the temperature while making the roti.

So how do you find out if the tawa is hot enough to make roti?? We sprinkle little whole wheat flour in tawa or griddle. If it darkens quickly then the tawa is ready to make roti.

8. While tawa is getting hot, start rolling the dough ball into a flat round circle.

rolling rotis into rounds with a rolling pin

9. Keep on rolling till you get an even circle as shown in the picture below. Making the roti round is not easy! With practice, you will be able to roll them round, but if they are a little misshapen at first, they will still taste good. Sprinkle some wheat flour if the dough begins to stretch or become sticky while rolling.

The trick to rolling round roti is that when you are rolling the dough then the roti should also be moving in a circular direction.

Also make sure that the rotis are not too thick, as they will take too much time to cook and will not puff up as they should

raw phulka dough on a marble slab after rolling out

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Phulka

10. Now put the roti on a hot tawa or skillet or griddle.

raw round of dough added to hot tawa, with small bubbles beginning to appear

11. First cook one side. It should be about one-fourth cooked, as shown in the photo below. You will see some air pockets forming on the rolled dough.

phulka hasn't yet been turned, but has more air pockets appearing on surface

12. Turn with the help of tongs and cook the other side. This should be a little bit more cooked than the first side. Brown spots should be visible. The photo below shows the roti ready to put on fire.

phulka has been flipped, showing small bubbles and bits of golden brown color from where it was touching the pan

13. Now hold the roti with a tong and place the first side which was one-fourth cooked directly on the fire. It will start to puff.

roti phulka placed on direct flame has puffed up and is filled with air

14. Turn and keep the other side on fire. The roti will puff more. Avoid burning or overcooking the rotis, as they will become crisp and hard like papad.

puffed up soft roti after flipping on the direct flame shows some dark blistered spots from the flame

15. Remove and place in a roti basket if not serving immediately. Apply ghee on the roti. Applying ghee or oil keeps them soft for a long time.

Roti made with this method is ideally served hot. If you cannot serve them hot, then you can keep them in a container that keeps food warm like a casserole or in a roti basket. You can also wrap them up in a kitchen towel or napkin.

cooked phulkas in a roti basket being brushed with ghee to keep them soft

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Puff Roti on Tawa

1. Place the rolled roti dough on a hot tawa or skillet. Keep the heat to medium-high or high. Within some seconds you will see air pockets forming on the raw chapati dough.

rolled chapati dough on black iron tawa

2. Roast for about 30 seconds or so and you will see the air-pockets increase on the surface.

roasting chapati on tawa

3. Flip with a spatula or tongs.

lifting chapati with spatula

4. Roast the second side for about a minute.

flipped chapati on tawa

5. Flip again. This second side will be cooked slightly more with some visible brown spots.

Note that I am giving approximate timing that can take to roast the roti. The actual timing will vary as it depends upon the thickness of the roti, the intensity and pressure of the flame and thickness and quality of the skillet or tawa.

chapati flipped again

6. Now with a clean folded cotton kitchen napkin or a spatula, begin to press the partially cooked dough on all sides and center.

chapati being pressed with a cotton napkin and helping the chapati to puff

7. Pressing and nudging the chapati gently all over its surface, helps to puff it up.

chapati being puffed by pressing with cotton napkin

8. Keep on pressing all over, especially the flat portions, so that the entire roti gets puffed up well.

chapati being puffed by pressing with cotton napkin

9. Below you see a nicely puffed phulka roti on a tawa. If you want you can flip again and cook the second side too for some seconds.

puffed chapati or phulka roti with napkin being pressed at the side

10. Place the soft and puffed roti in a roti-basket and spread some oil or ghee on top.

ghee smeared on chapati in a roti basket

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Chapati

1. Transfer the rolled chapati dough on a hot tawa or skillet.

rolled roti on hot tawa

2. Cook for about 30 seconds or so until you see some air pockets all over. Note that the timing will change or vary with the kind of skillet you are using, the chapati thickness and the intensity of the flame.

air pockets on roti on tawa

3. Flip the chapati and spread some oil all over while the second side is getting roasted. Cook the second side for about 1 minute.

oil being spread on chapati

4. Flip the chapati again with a spatula. You will see that the second side is well roasted with some blisters and brown spots.

chapati flipped on tawa

5. Spread some oil on this cooked side meanwhile the first side is getting roasted again. Roast for about 10 to 15 seconds.

oil being spread on this side of chapati

6. Press the edges with a spatula while cooking the second side of the chapati. Cook the second side for about a minute or so.

pressing edges of chapati with spatula

7. Below photo is of the cooked chapati. Make chapati with the rest of the dough in this manner and store them in a chapati container or box.

Chapati is roasted this way with ghee tastes different than the fire-roasted phulka or roti puffed on tawa. Everyone has a different preference. So make what you and your family like.

well roasted chapati on tawa

Whichever way you have made these soft roti, serve them with dals like chana dal, masoor dal, mung dal, dal fry or any Indian veggie dish like aloo gobi, vegetable kadai, stuffed capsicum or curry recipes like rajma masala, paneer butter masala, chana masala, palak paneer, veg kadai, aloo matar etc.

When you plan to serve them with a dry veggie dish, it is best to apply some ghee or oil to rotis while serving them. Applying ghee also helps in keeping the roti soft.

phulka smeared with ghee on a white plate with two white bowls of paneer curry and chopped red onions placed above on a cream cotton fabric

Tips For Making Soft Roti or Phulka

1. Wheat Flour

The quality and protein content of each brand of whole wheat flour is different. As a result, cooking times will end up being different for different flours. It will take some experimentation to know the perfect timing for the flour you are using, so I suggest you stick to the same type of flour each time you make them.

Depending on the quality of flour, less or more amounts of water will be required. But keep in mind that your dough should be pliable and soft so that you can roll it easily.

2. Fats

Adding ghee or oil makes the roti soft. You can also skip adding ghee or oil. This is the basic method of making whole wheat flour dough. This dough can also be used for making stuffed Parathas like Aloo paratha, Gobi paratha, or Paneer paratha. After making roti, apply some ghee or oil to keep the roti soft.

3. Dough Softness

The dough should be kneaded very well so that the gluten is formed. The dough should be smooth and soft to the touch. If the dough is hard then roti will not puff up. On the other hand, if the dough is too soft or sticky then you won’t be able to roll it evenly and it will not puff up at all.

4. Resting Dough

After kneading the dough, allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This will also help the roti to be soft.

5. Rolling

Roll the dough very evenly, otherwise the roti will not puff up. The dough should not have uneven surfaces like thick in some places and thin in other places. An unevenly rolled roti like this will not puff up. It will be hard or crisp from some places and chewy in other places.

Also, remember that the rolled roti should not have any cracks or tears in them. When you place it on tawa then also it should be flat on the tawa and there should not be air bubbles between the rolled roti dough and the surface of the tawa.

6. Roasting

Roti that is puffed on direct flame are softer, however it is not necessary to roast the phulka directly on fire. You can also cook it on the tava or skillet as I have shown above.

Use a heavy spoon or spatula to apply pressure on the roti while cooking on a griddle so that the roti puffs up. Do the same on the other side if you feel the roti is undercooked.

NOTE: If you want to serve the rotis later and want them to store in a container, then it’s advisable to make them on tawa.

7. Hot Water

Kneading the roti with hot water makes it very soft, and these rotis will have a tendency to remain soft even hours after making them. Use this method when making rotis or phulkas for tiffin box lunch.

Please note that care should be taken when mixing the hot water with the flour. Use a spoon or spatula first, and when the temperature is bearable, then knead the dough with hands. You can also swap in milk for the water, which will result in soft rotis.

8. Storing Dough

If some extra dough is leftover, then keep it covered in the fridge. Keep in an air-tight box or container, so that the surface of the dough does not become dry.

Although it’s better to use the freshly kneaded dough, you can use the leftover dough for 1-2 days if kept in the fridge. After 1-2 days of keeping in the fridge, the dough color starts becoming brown, hard and smelly. If this happens, discard the dough.


Why are my rotis not soft?

Kneading the dough well, rolling the dough evenly and opting to cook them on the skillet or fire are three important steps that need to be mastered to make soft rotis. A mistake in any of these steps may lead to hard rotis. I suggest you re-read the section “Tips to Making Soft Rotis” above.

Can these be made ahead of time?

Phulka are best served hot, but they can be made a few hours ahead of time. If you opt to make them ahead, I suggest using the tawa method rather than roasting them on a direct flame, and then keeping them in a warming box or wrapped in a kitchen towel.

Are chapatis and phulka the same?

Chapati is a type of roti, and often the words are used interchangeably. In my lexicon, chapati is made on a tawa only and roasted with oil or ghee. Whereas phulka are partially cooked on the tawa and later puffed on direct flame. Also Chapati is usually larger in size than a phulka.

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By Dassana Amit

Roti or Phulka or Chapati is an everyday staple Indian flatbread that is made in nearly every part of India. This recipe for this unleavened flatbread is made with basic ingredients – whole wheat flour, ghee, salt and water

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 40 mins

Servings 12 roti


  • 3 cups whole wheat flour or atta
  • 1 to 1.25 cups water or more if needed
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon oil or ghee (clarified butter) – optional

Kneading dough

  • Take whole wheat flour/atta in a bowl. Seive the whole wheat flour with salt. Add a bit of water and ghee and start mixing.

  • Adding some water to the dough in parts, begin to knead the dough.

  • Continue to knead the dough. Keep on adding water as required.

  • Knead the dough till it becomes pliable and soft. The final dough consistency should not be very soft or hard.

  • Now make small to medium balls of the dough. Roll the balls in the palms of your hands.

  • Flatten the ball. Sprinkle some whole wheat flour to the dough ball. Alternatively, you can also dust the rolling board with flour.

Making roti on tawa

  • Turn on the gas stove and put the tawa to make it hot.

  • While tawa is getting hot, start rolling the dough ball into a flat round circle.

  • Once the tawa is sufficiently hot then put the roti on a hot tawa/griddle.

  • First cook one side. It should be less than half cooked or about one-fourth cooked.

  • Turn and cook the other side. This should be a little bit more cooked than the first side. Brown spots should be visible.

  • Now hold the roti with a tong and keep the first side which was cooked, directly on fire. The roti will start to puff.

  • Turn and keep the other side on fire. The roti will puff more. Avoid burning the rotis and also don’t overdo it as roti will not be soft and will become crisp and hard like papads.

  • Remove and apply ghee on the rotis. Applying ghee or oil keep them soft for a long time. Rotis made with this method is ideally served hot.

  • If you cannot serve them hot, then you can keep them in a container that keeps food warm like a casserole or in a roti basket. You can also wrap them up in a kitchen towel or napkin.

  • Serve the soft rotis with dal or a veggie dish.

Nutrition Facts

Roti Recipe | Phulka Recipe | Chapati Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 104 Calories from Fat 9

% Daily Value*

Fat 1g2%

Sodium 98mg4%

Potassium 108mg3%

Carbohydrates 21g7%

Fiber 3g13%

Protein 3g6%

Calcium 10mg1%

Iron 1.1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Roti recipe post from the blog archives first published on August 2009 has been republished and updated on 1 September 2021.

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