The origin of this wholemeal roti (flat griddle cooked bread) is clear from its name- “Rogni” is derived from the Persian word Rogan (روغن) which means clarified butter/fat. Persian influence on Indian cuisine can clearly be dated to the 16th century with the arrival of Babur, the first Mughal Emperor in India in 1526 and whose descendants ruled a large part of the Indian sub-continent for three centuries. Pre dating the arrival of the Mughals, there has been a historical trade link between India and Persia and culinary influence between both these cultures probably date back to much earlier than the arrival of Babur. The Indian food historian Salma Husain has two fascinating books on Mughal cuisine if you are interested in reading more about the food of this period- http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=salma%20husain
Rogni Roti is bread which is made in Bulandshahr district in Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. In my family we call it “Safar Roti” or bread for travelling. Traditionally families in North India are mainly wheat eating and as the trusty sandwich (the western alternative to bread you can eat on the move!) was not an option in the 16th /17th century- someone came up with this bread recipe!
This bread is made with wholemeal or chappati flour and enriched with milk and ghee/oil and cooked in a different way which allows the bread to remain crisp on the outside and soft on the inside when cold -- a perfect bread to take on a journey where making hot chappatis or Naans was not an alternative! My great aunt had her own twist to this recipe- she would enrich the dough of the Roghni Roti with a dash of the “salaan” or the liquid base of the meat dish cooked that day- giving the bread an added layering of spice! My childhood memory of travelling with this bread was on trips to visit our extended family living in the villages in Bulandshahr and on train journeys to Delhi. In summer, we usually ate the bread with achaar (pickle) or chutney, boiled eggs and local cucumbers. In winter I remember having a simple potato and cumin dish (Aloo ka Katli) with the Rogni Roti.
This bread stayed fresh and pliable for several hours and has always been made in my family for anyone travelling and for breakfast as people ate at different times so fresh bread did not have to be made for every family member who surfaced in the morning! My mother still makes Rogni Roti for me to eat on my way to Delhi airport (several hours car journey from my parents home in Aligarh) – although there are other alternatives (sandwiches!) available. It is part of the tradition that every time I leave home, I am given a bag with Rogni Roti to eat on my journey.
225gms/ 8oz Chappati or Wholemeal Flour
½ teaspoon of salt
5 Tablespoons of Milk (Full fat milk)
50gms/ 2oz of melted butter or ghee
Oil/Ghee/Melted butter for cooking
Sift the flour into a bowl and add salt. Make a well in the centre and add the milk and melted butter and knead the dough till firm. Add a splash of milk if too dry. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts. Roll each part into a 5 inch circle (or the best you can!)- use a fork and prick holes on the flattened disc. Heat a tawa or non stick frying pan on medium high heat. Grease the pan with the melted butter /ghee or oil and cook the roti- pressing it down with scrunched up kitchen paper till it is brown on both sides. The roti can be eaten warm or allowed to cool. Once it is cold, you can wrap it in foil and store at room temperature for several hours.