Roz ka khana (everyday food)
Except that roz ka khana at my house is not Indian. H is one of those few Indian guys who doesn't need Indian food everyday. I was annoyed at first but it has actually helped me to grow and expand my culinary skills.
When he does crave Indian food, I try to do something different every time to impress him. Last night I made rotis from scratch. I had several failed attempts in the past few years but I learnt a few tricks when I spent the weekend last summer with my best friend, Darshini, in London. She is quite the Gujju cook extraordinaire and she shared with me her mother-in-law's secrets for the perfectly puffed and soft rotis.
For every cup of atta (best to get chapati flour from an Indian grocery store), add 1/3 cup of warm water and 1 tbsp oil. As you knead the dough till it all comes together nicely, add a few tsps of milk. That's the first trick. And boy, does it make a difference in the softness of the rotis. Set aside the dough and cover with a slightly damp cloth. That's the second trick. After about 10 minutes, divide the dough into golf ball size balls and keep covered until all the other dishes are ready and the family is seated at the table. At that point, take each golf ball and roll into a flat circular shape.
After every roll you must dip the dough in a big bowl full of atta. How thin you roll the chapati will determine how much it puffs up. I haven't yet mastered either this or exactly how hot the pan needs to be so you don't burn the chapati but I hope to get it right next time around!
By the way, you don't have to use loads of ghee when cooking the chapati. Just make sure that the grid or pan is hot enough and cook on both sides till browned.
I made matar paneer and spinach moong dal as accompaniments to the roti. Of course, lots of raw onions chopped up, a few baby tubs of yogurt and a few varieties of Indian pickle were close at hand.
H was amazed how delicious the rotis were even though they weren't perfect. Now he doesn't want to ever have store-bought rotis! His next challenge to me: gobi parathas. Now that's a dish I would not attempt without oodles of ghee!