This is my first foray into Urdu Muslim cooking – khamir (or khameer) is Urdu for yeast. Saira Mohseen was my student in 1988. She now lives in Melbourne. For the Eid celebrations she had prepared Khamiri roti with other dishes and had posted a photo of the meal on Facebook. I had not come across Khamiri Roti before, and so I asked her for the recipe which she readily shared, cautioning me that it was not standardized. I have standardised the recipe and presented it here with a more detailed procedure.
I made the rotis with one alteration. She had used saffron dissolved in milk, but I omitted this because I am firmly convinced that saffron is overrated in Indian cooking. She hadn’t mentioned the amount of oil, and because I am used to making pizza dough, I used the same amount here also. She had used dry yeast, but I used fresh yeast because I happened to have it in my refrigerator. The rotis came out amazingly well and were demolished in a very short time. Saira had suggested serving it with mutton kurma, but I served it with Murgh Makkanwali, which I will be writing about in another blog post.
Khamiri Roti uses oil both in the preparation of the dough and in deep frying, making it an energy rich preparation. It also contains glutenin from wheat and casein from curds making it a good combination of vegetable and animal protein. The fermentation of the dough also contributes B Complex vitamins. The infestation of fashionable but ignorant ‘health experts’ on the internet criticise such dishes for their energy content (especially from the oil), but miss the fact that the preparation is rich in other nutrients and has high satiative value. It is also easy to make at home, and is free of additives if you get the wheat flour ground in a mill. So go ahead and enjoy it during your favourite festival!
- 5 C Atta/Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 tsp Dry Yeast/1 T Fresh Yeast
- ½ C Water
- 1 T Sugar
- 1 C Curds/unsweetened Yoghurt
- 1 tsp Salt
- 3 T Vegetable Oil
- Refined Wheat Flour/Maida for dusting
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Heat ½ C water till it is warm but not hot (approximately 38 °C). Add the dry yeast and the sugar, stir and keep covered for 15-20 minutes. The yeast should froth by this time. If it doesn’t the yeast is dead. If you are using fresh yeast, follow the same procedure and just wait till it dissolves.
- Sift the atta with salt and place in a large bowl.
- Make a well in the centre of the atta, add the curd and the yeast, and mix into a dough. Add the oil and knead till all the flour is used up.
- Cover and set aside for 2-3 hours. By this time, the dough would have risen very well.
- Knead the dough again briefly to knock out the excess gas. Dust your hands with maida and divide the dough into large lemon sized balls.
- Roll into ½ cm thick rotis, using more maida for dusting.
- Heat vegetable oil in a wok or kadai and deep fry the rotis.
- When you slip the rotis into the oil, press it down gently with the back of the perforated ladle to make the roti puff.
- Turn over to fry on both sides.
- Remove and drain on paper towels.
- When I mixed the dry yeast with sugar and warm water, it did not forth at all even after 20 minutes. I was very fortunate to have fresh yeast in the refrigerator so I used that instead. The fresh yeast does not have to froth, it just needs to dissolve.
- The proportion of dry yeast to fresh yeast is 1:3 i.e., instead of 1 tsp of dry yeast you will need to use 3 tsp (1 T) of fresh yeast.
- Pressing the rotis down during deep frying requires a gentle touch; if you press hard the surface of the roti will crack and lead to excessive absorption of oil.
- The dough is very sticky and therefore requires a lot of maida for dusting.