Today is the International Dentist Day. I am sure that many of you, Beautiful People, do not count your visits to a dentist among your most pleasant memories. I, on the other hand, vividly remember lines of patients by my father’s door who had preferred to wait (and suffer!) for hours in order to be seen by “the painless doctor.” With this post, I am honoring the kindest and most wonderful dentist in the world, my father, may he rest in peace. He did not have sophisticated technology – it hadn’t existed in those times – or an array of painkillers to numb your mouth (those did exist but were scarcely distributed to local clinics). His gentle, but deft touch, his radiant smile, and soft, caring voice worked better than drugs. Not only little kids and pretty ladies were called “sweethearts” and “darlings;” old drunks and smelly street denizens got the same treatment.
I am happy that for the last three years of his long and fruitful life, I was able to spend so much time with my father, and during the final few months, I was with him almost 24/7. I got to hug him and to hold him, to wash him and to dress him, to kiss his hand and to comfort him. To the last moment, he was telling jokes, and with his last breath, he gave the nurse “his lovely smile,” as she called it. In memory of my father who was brought up on Popaliks (for recipe, click here), I made an Indian variation of flatbread – Roti. I am sure he would’ve loved it because, as traditional as he was, he was never averse to trying any of my funky culinary experiments and liked most of them.
In my kitchen and for our purposes, spelt is considered gluten free. However, if you are allergic to gluten or have a celiac disorder, please consult your physician. Basic roti dough is made by mixing flour with water, a little olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Mix it in a bowl until it doesn’t stick to the sides any more, than flip it onto a working surface lightly dusted with flour.
Knead it for a few minutes, to make it nice and smooth, and divide into 8 – 10 pieces, depending on the size of your frying pan. Grab your rolling pin and roll out each piece into a thin round the diameter of your frying pan. It helps to cover the rest of the pieces with a damp cloth to prevent drying out.
Just as popaliks, the reason roti could be used instead of the traditional two challahs on Shabbos is that, even though they are baked stove top on a frying pan, there is no oil. In other words, they are not fried, but dry baked. It literally takes a couple of minutes on each side, but the pan must be very hot, so watch your hands!
I know my father would’ve enjoyed these beautiful, soft and delicious roti! His shining Neshomah (soul) is reminding us to tell those we love that we love them – while we can!
2 cups white spelt flour (alternatively, whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup water or more
1 tablespoon olive oil
A pinch of salt
Mix ingredients in bowl until dough pulls away from sides. On lightly dusted with flour surface, knead until smooth. Divide into 8 – 10 pieces, cover with damp cloth.
Preheat dry (not oiled) frying pan to high heat. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece into a round equal in diameter to your frying pan.
Place each flat round on hot pan, bake for 1 – 11/2 minute on each side, until golden brown spots appear.
Roti could be warmed in the oven before Shabbos.