Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chipotle rotti - an Indo Mexican fusion bread you can't resist

What if I were to tell you that butter is good for you? What if I were to prove that there is indeed good butter in nature? What if I were to say that you can indulge in the buttery richness of this rotti without feeling guilty about how it always ends up sticking to those particular areas around your waist? Well, I am not the first one to profess the goodness of the natural butter found in Avocados (it is rightly called butter fruit in India) nor would I be the last one. Back in India, one of my childhood friends from Karwar (her family was from Karwar - a small town almost on the border of Kerala and Karnataka) who had settled in Mysore first introduced me to this deliciously bland fruit as her grand mom had carried a basket full of them when she came visiting.
The old lady had multiple avacado trees in her backyard and had picked some for her city bred grand children. As kids anywhere would be expected to behave, we got many of those butter fruits, cut them open sitting in the vast backyard and ate them up just scooping out the flesh. It was not a fruit we would find easily in vegetable markets in Mysore, nor did nammamma ever found a recipe that incorporated this fruit into it. So, butter fruit generally remained a somewhat neglected wild fruit of the backyard trees. While some of the fruits were devoured by kids like us, most  just dropped to the ground to become one with mother nature over time. I think the fruit has finally found its way to glory in India and I find many of the upscale super markets carrying this on a regular basis.

When I first tasted guacamole at Chipotle, I knew it was a dish that would stay in my kitchen and our hearts forever :-). Infact DD & I like the buttery avacado so much that once Subway introduced their now popular avacado spread (for an extra 50c on the 6 inch sub) we probably were two of Subway's customers that always asked for avacado in their sandwiches and many times boycotted the locations if they didn't carry the avocado :-). Back to Chipotle, this is one of the few restaurants I tend to relax knowing that my vegetarian cravings are going to be fully satisfied without ever worrying about what I get served. My favorite order has always been the bowl with lots of black beans, vegetables, guacamole, salsa (mild, medium and hot :-)). It is a complete meal even without the rice or the roti.
On the first visit, I thought Chipotle was the ultimate Mexican food until I realized much later it was a very Americanized Mexican food :-) similar to most Indian joints here. So I stopped claiming Chipotle to be my authentic Mexican source especially after accidentally ending up in a 'real authentic' Mexican place in San Diego once. The food tasted quite different from that of Chipotle and going by the natives that were enjoying the food there, I think it was more Mexican than Chipotle would ever be. But I got what I wanted in both the places making me a happy customer.

Whether authentic or semi-authentic, Mexican food is distinguished by the use of beans especially the black beans and the pinto beans. The real re-fried beans can be very heavy and disturbing to the stomach if you are not used to the real deal but you can certainly make a lighter version of them at home. I have been making Avocado rotis for over a decade now ever since a friend in CA shared her tip of making soft rotis by adding ripe avocados to the flour. I keep making variations of the recipe mainly based on how I feel that particular day. In India, there is a practice of adding lentils or dal to the roti dough to make it fortified with proteins, nammamma used to get the whole wheat ground in the mills and she would add about 1/4 of moong dal while she took it to the mill. Her rotis always had this softness and taste I have never been able to replicate yet.
Since I depend on the packaged whole wheat flour, all my additions to boost the nutrient factor are done externally while making the dough. One of the days when I started to make the rotis, I saw 2 ripe avocados on the counter and set them aside to add to the dough. I wanted to try something different and pulled out a can of black beans from the pantry. Some spices, a little sauteing and everything went into the bowl to make a rich, buttery dough that incorporated a good serving of proteins. Thus was born the chipotle rotti that fuses the distinct Mexican beans and avocados with Indian spices and green chilies :-). If you were to be an impassioned observer of the magic that happened in my kitchen on the said night, you may say that this really is a mish-mash of ideas that have been already tried and tasted but I like to think that I had a brilliant brain wave and sorta created a new recipe that burst with the robustness of the beans, silky smoothness of avocado and a slight tang from the lemons :-).

You do not need any oil or ghee for these rotis, they turn out super soft and stay that way for 2-3 days making them a great travel recipe or for sending to your daughter (or son) who has been busily studying for finals away from home :-). I have used very limited and most commonly available spices in the kitchen, you can tailor this to your family's taste buds.
How to select perfectly ripe avocados? 
The skin is not crinkly (which means it has aged beyond what you are looking for), color of the skin is dark green and the fruit is just soft to the touch. Also look for a smooth surfaced fruit that does not have dents or dips on it. If you happen to bring home a slightly firm avocado, keep it outside the refrigerator on a counter top for a couple of days before cutting them up for use.

What do you need to make Chipotle rottis? 
Makes about 10 regular sized rotis
1.5 cups of whole wheat flour + plus a little for dusting
1 can of black beans
1 medium sized ripe avocado
2-3 green chilies (adjust to taste) - finely chopped
1 Tbsp lime/lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp coriander powder (skip if you don't have it)
pinch of turmeric powder
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 Tbsp oil
1/8 Tsp mustard
1/8 Tsp cumin

How do you make Chipotle rotti? 
  • Heat oil in a big pan, add mustard and cumin. 
  • Once the mustard starts to pop, add finely chopped onion and green chilies and saute for a couple of minutes until the onion sweat. 
  • Open the can of beans and wash them thoroughly under running water for 2-3 times until the water runs clear. 
  • Add the beans to the pan followed by salt and the dry spice powders.
  • With the help of a potato masher, mash the beans completely so it becomes a soft blob.
  • Taste and adjust this mush for salt or spices, add chopped cilantro and switch off. Let it cool completely. 
  • Wash and cut the avocado vertically, remove the seed by gently giving it a push with a spoon. 
  • Scoop out the pulp into a wide mixing bowl, mash it gently, add the cooled beans mixture and bring them together with your fingers. 
  • Add whole wheat flour in spoon fulls and keep mixing to make a dough, you are looking for a slightly firmer than regular roti dough. 
  • Gently knead the dough for 1-2 minutes, make a smooth ball, cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Heat a flat griddle on medium heat. 
  • Break lemon sized balls from the dough, smooth them out and dip in dry flour. 
  • Gently roll them out with a rolling pin into a disc of 5 inch diameter and 1/8th inch thickness. Use dry flour to dust as you roll. 
  • Once the griddle is hot (spray a couple of drops of water and if it sizzles immediately you are good to go), transfer the roti onto the griddle. 
  • Let the under side cook for 30-45 seconds or until it develops small red spots before turnign the roti over to the other side. 
  • Cook until both sides have no raw flour surfaces, take it out onto a plate. 
  • Repeat process for all the remaining dough. 
  • If you are packing the rotis for travel, let them cool down before packing or else serve them hot with any chutney or plain yogurt. 
  • Keep the volume ratio of beans+avocado mixture and whole wheat flour same when you make the dough. If the mixture if high on beans and avocado, rotis tend to be very supple and will need gentle handling while rolling and cooking but they taste great. 
  • Mustard is just my South Indian touch:-), you can skip this and add cumin powder instead of whole cumin along with other dry powders. This makes the dough easier to roll out into rotis. 
  • Do not rest the dough for very long (optimal time is 15 minutes). If you want to keep it for longer, wrap in a cling wrap and refrigerate it. The dough turns darker in color as it rests due to the oxidation of avocado and the natural hue of black beans. Do not let that worry you. 
  • Adding lemon/lime juice to the avocado helps retains its color while also adding that touch of sourness to the rotis. 

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