The Romali Roti takes its name from the Urdu word for handkerchief. This elegant bread originates in the court cuisine of India’s Mughal rulers, where according to legend it was served after rich dishes to be used quite literally like a handkerchief! It was also popularized by the legendary Karim’s restaurant in Chandni Chowk (Moonlight Square) in Old Delhi. Opened around the time of King George V’s bombastic coronation in 1911, founder Haji Karimuddin returned to his ancestral home in Delhi hoping to cater to the assembled crowds. Originally selling only Aloo Ghosht (a lamb and potato curry) accompanied with dal and the roti in question, it soon became synonymous with the best Mughlai cuisine served unpretentiously: Head Chef Alun Sperring confirms that on a recent fact-finding expedition to India, Romali Roti were still served for 1 rupee apiece!
Romali Roti are made from a mix of whole-grain durum wheat flour (atta) and fine white flour (maida). Too much atta and the dough will not be glutinous enough to hold together, too much maida and the finished product will be too dense. In a dramatic gesture demonstrated by Chilli Pickle chef below, they are thrown into their final shape and cooked on the tawa, or roti kadhai, a convex griddle.
In the video below, South Indian Specialty Chef Gouranga Bera shows us the hardest part of making Romali Roti – spinning it dexterously into its final shape!
Romali Rotis are served at every lunchtime at the Chilli Pickle.