As you probably know by now, I am a food and travel writer and a chef. I have taught cooking classes across the US. I would say, I have perfected many cuisines, including Mexican, Spanish, Italian, Moroccan, Indian, and more. However, one thing I have never been able to perfect is the quintessential “roti.” I can make a perfect French crepe, get a golden crust on an Italian crostata, and bake a mouth-watering banana nut cake from scratch. But I have yet to perfect making a roti!
I know this is sad, but what looks like a simple and easy recipe, takes years of perfection.
Whenever I visit my grandmother in my hometown of Chandigarh, I step back in the kitchen to observe our home chef churning out one soft and fluffy roti after another, within a matter of seconds. Often times, I’m inspired by her to get my hands dirty in the kitchen, but like a child who has learned to make cookie dough for the first time, I retreat messy and complacent with just being served at the table.
Back in the US, I satisfy myself with frozen parathas, whole wheat tortillas or rotis bought from the Indian store.
So when I heard about this new automatic roti maker that can make fresh, homemade rotis, without much effort, I was eager to learn more.
What is Roti?
Roti is a round flatbread made of wholemeal flour and water, native to the Indian subcontinent. It is also found in parts of Africa, the Caribbean and Asia, though it may be prepared slightly differently. Roti is also known as chapati or phulka and eaten as a staple with most Indian curries and vegetables. No Indian meal is complete without rice, roti or both!
If you frequent Indian restaurants, you may be familiar with its cousin – naan, which is actually quite different. Unlike roti, naan is typically made with processed flour, yeast or baking powder, and dairy (yogurt or milk), and baked in a clay oven known as tandoor. It has more calories than roti L
In Indian households, roti is proffered over naan, as its easier to make and healthier.
Rotimatic is like a bread maker, but for rotis. It kneads the dough, rolls it out, bakes it and churns out fresh rotis – within minutes! The Singapore based company, Zimplistic sent me my very own Rotimatic to try out and these opinions are strictly my own.
At first glance, the box I received was bulky and huge. It was as big as a microwave oven, though I was expecting it to be more like a bread maker. Weighing 45 lbs., I needed the help of my husband to move the machine to the kitchen, which occupied a bit of counter space.
In order to get started with my robotic roti maker, the first thing I needed to do was download the app that goes with it. Now, the app doesn’t really control the machine, but talks to it. Mostly, it’s there for recipes, help and track how many rotis you made.
The Rotimatic comes ready to go and you don’t even have to wash it before its first use.
The second step is to fill the three canisters with ingredients – water, oil and flour. Turn the machine on and use the screen to make your selections. You will need to select what type of flour you are using (they strongly recommend Aashirvaad Select Whole Wheat Atta from India), what you want to make (roti, puri, pizza/ flatbread), the thickness you prefer (from 5 levels), how much roast you like on it (4 levels), and the quantity you want.
The first time you turn on the machine, it takes about 7-8 minutes to warm up. After that, each roti is made one at a time. The Rotimatic will take the required amount of ingredients to produce one roti roughly about every 2.5 minutes. The roti comes out hot and ready to eat.
Rotimatic is not any noisier then a blender or food processor. It does get pretty hot in front of the oven area, but it won’t cause burning if you happen to be there.
The Taste Test
The first warning Rotimatic gives you to is “This is a learning machine. Your rotis will get better over time!” I guess like the face recognition software on the iPhone, the Rotimatic learns your preferences over time. Exactly how, this is not clear to me.
My first few rotis were actually quite good. They were perfectly round, consistently shaped and evenly cooked. I watched closely to see how the oven fluffed each roti like one would do at home.
I tried a few different settings as well. My personal preference was thin and crispy, though even the thick ones were pretty good. I fried the thick ones in light oil to make it a paratha. I recommend wrapping the rotis in a cloth if you are not going to eat them right away.
What else can you do with it?
You can also make poori (a type of fried bread) with the Rotimatic setting designed for it. Small round thin discs are spit out, which you still need to deep fry in hot oil to cook your poori. They are hard to make manually because you need to roll out the dough very thin. I thought these were delicious and a must at my next Diwali party! They also come out much faster than the rotis, so you can get a bigger batch ready to go into the fryer.
The app and website have a lot of recipes for desserts, sides and mains you can make using the Rotimatic, such as masala besan roti, chaat puri, puran poli, and more. You can also use masa harina flour for tortillas, amarnath flour for pasta, spelt flour for biscuits, and brown rice flour for rotis.
Rotimatic was first released in 2017, and since then the machine has improved. As the technology continue to evolve, more options will be released, such as making tortillas and wraps.
Is it worth it?
My testimonial of the Rotimatic is that it makes practical sense for my family. Since we are only two people, we don’t want to labor to make only 4-5 pieces of roti for ourselves. On the Rotimatic, I can set how many rotis I want to eat at that time and it will make only that quantity.
Also, if different family members prefer different kinds of rotis (say I like a thin roti, my husband likes a poori), you don’t have to knead two different kinds of dough. The machine does it for you.
I often travel for work and my husband can use the Rotimatic on his own as well. When he returns from work, he turns on the machine, goes to freshen up, and when he returns, his dinner is ready!
What about cleaning?
I once threw away my heavy-duty vegetable juicer only because cleaning all the different parts took more time and effort than it did to make the juice. With Rotimatic, I am happy to say the cleaning process is painless. The only thing you need to clean after each use is the kneading area. Wait for 30 minutes for the machine to cool down before opening the door, but make sure not to wait till the next day or the dough will solidify.
A handy brush comes with the equipment so you can simply dust off the flour.
The rest of the parts require cleaning at least every 2 weeks and it takes only 10 minutes.
Rotimatic is super easy to use and directions are given for every step. Like a robot, it talks to you! My machine told me when flour was running low or there was an obstruction in the door.
It forces you to eat healthier. The main ingredient when using the Rotimatic is whole wheat flour, but you can also use other varieties such as gluten-free, almond flour, millet, etc. There are no preservatives or added sugars or salt used. Plus it is much cheaper the buying store bought rotis (in Atlanta, they cost $1-2 each). The machine also gives you a summary of how much time and calories you saved after each use!
I feel this is going to force me to experiment with other kinds of low-carb, high-fiber flours that I wasn’t comfortable with cooking before. This is especially useful for people with dietary restrictions, such as diabetes, celiac, or allergies towards certain grains.
I like the fact that that the Rotimatic just doesn’t make rotis. You can also make homemade, healthy and delicious pasta, flatbread, tacos, wraps and more with it. Keep in mind, all will be the same size.
Did I mention it saves time? I turn on my Rotimatic when I start to make my main dish, like saag paneer, daal or chicken curry. By the time I am done cooking, my rotis are done too. Cooking rotis for only 1-2 people is more time consuming since it requires same amount of labor as if you were making a big batch. Using Rotimatic reduces your time in the kitchen.
At over $800, the Rotimatic is quite an investment for a kitchen gadget that can only make limited things. You have to think about how often you would use the product to justify the price.
Rotimatic occupies quite a bit of counter space and is not easy to move, so make sure you have a big enough kitchen where this machine can sit permanently.
Since the Rotimatic has only been out for 2 years, it’s long-term warranty and life is not yet know. As it is a high-tech machine, there are bound to be glitches. A few times, my screen alerted me that the dough was running low or the kneading rotator was stuck, but that wasn’t true. Couple of times the dough balls got left behind and didn’t make it to the second step.
Are you owner of a Rotimatic? What has been your experience with it? Please share with our readers in the comments section below.