Making a roti is so simple, it's complicated. On paper, the steps to create this Indian flatbread seem easy: You combine flour, water and oil, roll out flat discs of the dough and cook them briefly over direct heat. In reality, it takes years of practice, patience and guidance to make perfect batches of this unleavened bread.
Enter the Rotimatic, a $1,000 countertop machine, available in the US and Singapore, that automates roti making. You add flour, water and oil to the machine, and it churns out a roti in about two and a half minutes.
The Rotimatic lives up to its promise to make roti easy, but it has too many problems for an appliance that will set you back a grand. It's a big, bulky machine that takes up a lot of counter space. It doesn't do anything with the built-in Wi-Fi -- it's just sitting there waiting for the manufacturers to beef up the corresponding app into something worthwhile. And the texture and thickness of the Rotimatic's roti pale in comparison to homemade versions of the flatbread.
If roti is a staple of your diet, skip the Rotimatic. Spring for some frozen roti if you're short on time and money.
First, a roti primer
As I mentioned earlier, roti is a type of unleavened flatbread made of flour and water (oil is optional, depending on who you talk to) that's eaten alongside a main dish. Variations of the bread (sometimes referred to by other names such as "chapati,") are found in India, Southeast Asia and the West Indies.
To learn more about roti, I talked to Floyd Cardoz, the chef/owner of Paowalla, an Indian restaurant in New York City, and culinary director of The Bombay Canteen, an Indian café and bar in Mumbai. Carboz, who also won the third season of Top Chef Masters, said the perfect roti should be made of whole-wheat flour. It should also be "round, soft, light, delicate enough to tear, but not have enough fat in it that it breaks." A good roti should also puff up as it cooks, Carboz said. However, roti preferences can vary depending on the region you're in.
How the Rotimatic works
A Singapore-based company called Zimplistic began taking orders for the Rotimatic in 2014. According to the company, Zimplistic has received more than $115 million worth of preorders. It started to ship out Rotimatics earlier this year (right now, it's only available in the US and Singapore).
Rotimatic is what happens when you take the concept of a bread machine and apply it to flatbread. Here's how it works: