ROTI – South African Style (Marsay Family Favourite)

This super easy and soft roti, is the perfect accompaniment to almost all Indian styled curry dishes, as well as grilled foods. 

Roti, also known as Chapati, is a type of unleavened flatbread, that has originated from the Indian subcontinent.  Without too much of a fuss, Roti can be put together with minimum effort.  As different parts of the World have their own way of preparing these versatile Flatbreads, so too do we South Africans.

Using just a few basic ingredients, flour, water, salt, oil and ghee, Roti is a firm favourite in many a home here in South Africa.  If there was any 1st dish you are taught whilst growing up, I know for me it was, then Roti it was.  Growing up in an Urdu speaking family, these were, and still is, my dear abba’s (dad) absolute favourite with his main meals.  ‘HAATH KI ROTI’ (HANDMADE BREAD) is how he often refers to these.  Have you heard that urdu term before? He had always enjoyed these roti, folded and rolled out into squares, something his mum (MY LATE DADI), had especially done for him.  I too learnt this trick from my DADI, AUNTS and LATE MUM, and I still make a few this way, especially the last 2 as ‘sugar roti(SEE HOW TO FOLD THESE INTO SQUARES IN RECIPE)

AUGUST Being Women’s Month in South Africa, THIS ROTI post is a special SHOUT OUT, to all the ELDER WOMEN IN MY FAMILY, AS WELL AS WOMEN ACROSS THE COUNTRY, who selflessly prepare these Handmade Breads for their family to enjoy.  Years gone by, and probably still prevalent in some homes, Roti used to be toasted on a flat pan(TAWA), whilst the family members sat down to eat.  Women would serve their family piping hot rotis, right off the tawa.

These days, however, roti is most often prepared ahead, and frozen.  Convenient enough to reach into the freezer, remove a batch of prepared rotis, zap them in the microwave and you have fresh piping hot roti.  Roti is NOT all that difficult to make, and if you are going to prepare this recipe, for the 1st time, then take it from me, STOP WORRYING ABOUT HOW PERFECTLY ROUND YOUR ROTI TURNS OUT.   We tend to add more pressure on ourselves trying to be perfect the 1st time round.  But hey… remember, the taste is in the final product.  If you need perfectly round rotis, then keep practising on the rolling bit, and you too will perfect it.  If not, then simply use the edge of a side plate to neaten out your rolled rotis.

So let’s get started, boil you kettle of water, have all your ingredients measured out, wooden spoon/Fork at the ready, and here is my My Family Favourite Roti recipe for you to try.



Before you go…







  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
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AUTHOR: FOODEVA MARSAY (@foodeva_marsay)


2 and 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour (cake flour)

1 and 1/2 teaspoon Salt

4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 and 1/2 Cups Boiled Water (USE WATER A FEW MINUTES AFTER BOILING) 

MELTED GHEE for smearing AND extra flour for dusting


~ Add flour, salt and Oil to a large enough mixing bowl.  Rub the oil into the flour.

~ Firstly, add in 1 cup of the Boiled Water, using a fork or handle of a wooden spoon, mix the water into the flour mix. 

~ Gradually add more of the Water, mixing as you go, until the dough begins to hold.

~ Carefully, knead the dough now with your hands, until you have a soft pliable dough, that is not sticky. 

~ Add more flour, if you feel the dough a little too sticky to handle. 

~ After kneading the dough, dust your work surface with flour, and roll out the soft ball of roti dough into one large roti, not too thin.

~ Now Spread on 2-3 Tablespoon Melted ghee onto the large rolled out roti, and sprinkle liberally with a dusting of flour.

~ Starting from the top edge of the large roti, carefully roll the roti into a swiss-roll , bring it towards you.

~ Once done, pinch closed the edges, and gently even out the roll by rolling it on your work surface

~ Portion out this Roti Swiss Roll, into fist sized pieces, or cut them into equal portion sizes.

~ Pinch closed any open bits of roti swiss roll, to form neat balls of Roti Dough and dip these into flour.  Sprinkle your mixing bowl with more flour, and place these portioned size Roti Balls into the bowl, in a single layer.

~ Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, or cling-film.  Allow these roti balls to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes, before rolling out and toasting.

~ After resting the dough, You are now ready to roll out each dough.

~ Heat your flat-pan (TAWA) to medium/high setting.

~ Dust your work surface with flour, and with slight pressure, start rolling the roti ball dough into a disk.  I find applying a little more pressure on the side as I roll, helps the roti dough to turn easily. 

~ If the dough sticks, gently lift it, and dust a little flour on the work surface. 

~ Roll into side plate sized disks and dust off excess flour, before placing the rolled out roti onto a hot flat pan(tawa)

~ Turn the roll on the pan a few times, when it begins to bubble, turn over the roti, using a spatula (or your hands).

~ Allow the other side to bubble up as well, now add a little melted ghee to the roti and spread on surface

~ Flip over the roti, and add a little more ghee on the other side.

~ Flip over again, just to further brown the roti. IF you feel the roti needs more browning, keep flipping it.

~ Stack each roti onto a wire rack, and keep covered with a clean Kitchen towel.

~ Rotis are ready to be served, piping hot. Or these can now be cooled well, before packing them away, placed flat into Freezer safe Plastic Bags. Store away in amounts you prefer. 




~ Take one to the portioned out, roti balls, and roll into a small disk

~ Smear a little ghee on the disk

~ Now sprinkle on 2 Tablespoon, or more, SUGAR

~ Fold in the 2 sides, to slightly over-lap at the centre

~ Dab the points the dough will meet, with a tiny bit of ghee, now fold over the other sides to fold over, forming a SQUARE. 

~ Ensure the edges are pinched closed properly.

~ Dust work surface with flour, and gently roll out the square into a little larger square, following the square dough formation.

~ Toast this sweet roti, quickly, same as you would regular roti. Take care not to burn it, as the sugar begins to caramelise into the dough.

~ Best enjoyed served HOT

**NOTE.. Follow the same folding technique mentioned above, to make square rotis, instead of a standard round roti.  You will not be adding the sugar, just ghee and fold up into square.

DIY- Square Roti (I make my Sugar Roti with this folding technique)


> Always handle the dough carefully, especially after adding the boiled water.  If you prefer, wait a few minutes before kneading into a dough.

>  Your roti dough needs to be soft and smooth.  So gradually add water if it is too dry.

>  Use flour to dust onto dough in it is sticky to handle.

>  The Portioned roti Balls, will keep well in the fridge for a day or 2, roll out as you need fresh piping hot rotis.

>  You can also Roll out each roti ball, into side plate sizes, and store away in the freezer.  For this, ensure that you Separate each rolled out roti with a sheet of plastic, so they may not stick.  To Toast them, simply add them, from frozen, to a medium heated taw, and toast as mentioned in recipe.

> The same storing method is required for roti that is already toasted, Ensure you freeze them into amounts convenient for you, that is in 2, 4, 6 batch lots.  You can heat these straight from the freezer, in your microwave, of bring back to room temperature, before warming and serving.

*Kindly share my recipes as posted, ©*

Super Soft Roti, ready to be enjoyed

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ROTI - South African Style
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