In the world of bulky parathas and stuffed kulchas, roomali roti may seem like an anomaly of sorts to someone new to our cuisine. But for those who have grown up eating Mughlai food, it is pivotal part of every lavish spread. It is not embellished with nuts, there is nothing special that goes in the dough either. It is made with simple atta that stretched out so that it resembles a handkerchief, which is how it gets its name. ‘Roomali’ is derived from Roomal or Rumal which is a Hindi/Urdu word for handkerchief.  

Legend Has It...

It is said that when the British dethroned the Mughals, many royal cooks were left to fend for themselves. They brought their recipes and fine culinary skills to the streets, and this is how the ‘royal Mughlai cuisine’ found a new lease of life, even as the empire crumbled. The extremely thin and limp flatbread is served folded, like a handkerchief. Legend has it that in the Mughal period it was used to wipe off extra grease from hands after a lavish meal. Also known as Manda or Lamboo roti (Punjab), Rumali roti is often paired with super rich Mughlai curries, kormas, kalias and Tandoori items such as tikkas, chaaps etc. The roti is also very popular in Pakistan. As a matter of fact, there exists a much larger version of rumali roti known as paasti or paosti chappatai  which is widely made in parts of Waziristan.  

Making the Perfect Rumali Roti

It is not an easy roti to make, it is one of things to be taught to Indian chefs in hotels big or small. It takes time to master the art of making the Rumali roti since you don’t just have to roll it out with the help of a belan (rolling pin) but also spin it in the air to get the desired thickness. It is then supposed to be placed on an inverted griddle, very gently, and then cooked on low flame for a very limited time, since over-cooking may lead to cracks and burns. 

When you have pulled out the dough to make your Rumali roti, keep the centre slightly thick and apply pressure on the edges, when you roll it, roll outwards so that the edges come out to be thin. When you take the roti in your hand to spin it, keep the thumbs inside lest your roti wil tear and give it a good spin. 

It is a tough feat to make a proper Rumali roti, but a feat worth talking about. And once you find a right recipe, you wont even want to purchase one from outside. Here’s how you can make Rumali roti at home.