Categorized |Bits and Bites, Vegetarian

Make room for Sada Roti, Pita Bread.

how to swell a sada rotiMy early years in Canada saw me falling in love with pita, as it was the closest thing to sada roti that I could get. Hamilton in those days had 1 or 2 Caribbean restaurants, but none of them served any type of roti. The same can be said today, except the two that I know that does have roti now, absolutely sucks! In many homes in Trinidad and Tobago Sada roti is consumed as cereal or toast and eggs would be in North America at breakfast time.

It’s a common misconception that Sada roti is difficult to make and people avoid trying. Today I’m here to prove that making roti is very simple and only takes about 30 minutes. You can even cheat and use a food processor to prepare the dough :)

You’ll Need..

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
dash of salt (optional)
1 1/2 cups water (see note below)

Note: This recipe is courtesy of my mom and she mentions that for some reason the flour we get in North America seems to need more water than the flour that’s available in the Caribbean when kneading. If you’re following the recipe and you’re based in the Caribbean, please take note to use a bit less water. I was also told that the cooked roti also remains much softer in the Caribbean than in North America.

In a fairly large bowl combine the flour and baking powder, then start adding the water as you knead the dough. Remember to dust your hand with some four to help prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers. The goal is to create a large smooth dough ball. I didn’t add any salt, but I’m sure some recipes will call for salt. That is entirely up to you. Keep dusting your hand with flour as you work the dough. If you’re using a food processor, simply add all the ingredients and combine. Tip add 3/4 the water to start and add more if necessary so you won’t end up with a soggy dough.

trini style roti

cooking sada roti

trini sada roti

It may take about 5 minutes to knead the dough, after which cover the bowl and allow the dough to “soak” (rest) for about 15 minutes, as my mom would say.

dough for sada roti

soaking dough for roti

The next step is to divide the dough ball into 3 smaller (but even) balls, as the big one would be too big for the roti we’re making. These would be perfect for the size of roti we have planned.

simple roti recipe

The traditional way to cook roti is by using a tawa (see pic below), but if you don’t have one, no worries. You can achieve the same result using a big non-stick frying pan. Heat the tawa or pan on medium to high heat. If this is the first time you’re making roti or working with dough, I’d recommend that you get the first roti ready first before heating the tawa. This way if you run into any problems rolling out the dough, the tawa will not over heat.

Dust a clean surface on your counter top (must be dry), get one of the smaller dough balls then flatten a bit and work the dough with your fingers (as I’m sure you’ve seen pizza makers do) . Continue dusting with four to avoid sticking and start rolling with a rolling pin. Flip over, dust with flour and roll again. We’re trying to get a well rounded (don’t worry about shape at this point.. you’ll perfect it soon enough) roti shape. The diameter will be between 10-12 inches and about 1/4 inch thick (or less)

trini roti recipe

roti sada

sada roti

how to roll out a roti

Gently pick it up using both hands and place t to cook on the heated tawa or pan. Allow it to cook a couple minutes on each side, by flipping it as it cooks (you may need to use a spatula to help flip it as it will be hot). You’ll notice 3 things as it cooks.. it will increase in thickness, it will start getting a bit brown and it will start developing air pockets. This will lead you to the final step. Swelling the roti.

There are 2 ways to swell the roti which I’ll share with you below. The traditional way and the easy way :)

The traditional way I’ve seen my mom “swell” the roti, is by shifting the tawa away from the burner so half the tawa is directly over the flame, then in a circular motion move the roti over the direct flame. So half the roti will be on the tawa itself and half will be moved over the flame. You’ll notice that the roti will create a huge air pocket. This is what we mean when we say “swell” the roti. There’s a more traditional term used for this process, but I don’t recall what it is at the moment. If while using this method and you notice that only a part of the roti swells, press gently on the roti and the air pocket will move throughout the entire thing. Be very careful not to burst any holes, as steam will escape and you risk getting burned.

how to make roti

roti recipe

cooking roti

cooking trini sada roti

how to make sada roti

Note: If you do decide to use the traditional way to “swell” the roti do remember to use an oven mitt to prevent burning your hands and fingers.

The EASY and fool-proof way to swell the roti. After you’ve cooked it on both sides for a couple minutes and it starts to go brown… little air pockets or bubbles will start forming. Remove it off the tawa or frying pan and place it in your microwave (use a tea towel / paper towel or it will sweat on the direct surface), set the microwave on high and cook for about 30 seconds. You’ll be amazed at how fast and perfect it will swell.

microwave roti

how to swell a sada roti

Let’s go through the steps again..

Knead flour > allow to rest for 15 minutes > make into 3 smaller dough balls > flatten and cook on tawa for a couple minutes on each side >  then swell > enjoy! I told you it was simple!

You’re probably wondering why the big deal about “swelling” the roti. This is so that it becomes lighter and makes a great pocket for stuffing. Using a sharp knife, cut the roti into 4 pieces as you would slice a pizza and stuff as you would a pita sandwich or enjoy slices with your favourite “talkarie”.

TIP: Wrap in a towel or paper towel to store after cooking. The idea is to keep it sealed from direct air or it will go hard and crusty. You can store in the fridge in a zipper bag (wrapped in paper towels) for a couple days and reheat in the microwave. I’ve never tried freezing this type of roti, though I’ve frozen other type with great success.

Recipe Name
How To Make Sada Roti.
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5 Based on 3 Review(s)
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43 Responses to “Make room for Sada Roti, Pita Bread.”

  1. Janet says:

    I just love the way you simplify the procedures for your recipes. I love rotis and tried to make them but they never come out fluffy and nice as they should. Thanks Chris for this. I too need to get a tawa, I live in Jamaica and need to track one down.

  2. bri says:

    What does saakay mean

  3. Pakou says:

    Hi Chris,

    What kind of flour do you use? All-purpose? Self-rising flour? Also, my sada roti fails to swell entirely on a tawa and in the microwave. It rises very little on some parts of the roti and the rest is left “sealed” shut. Please help! What am I doing wrong? :(

  4. Kathryn says:

    Great info as always, Chris. I was wondering though, where can I find a traditional tawa like you used for this Sada Roti? My mom’s friend, Sharma taught me long ago as a child to make Dhal Puri roti which is my favorite but I could never find that cooking utensil. Thanks.

  5. zahn says:

    Hi I love your site. I, too, would like to know what kind and brand flour you use thanks

  6. Lorna says:

    I never knew you could use the microwave to swell the roti. Thanks, I must try this.

  7. Carl says:

    Hi Chris- what brand/type flour do you use?

  8. niecey says:

    Ok,.. So I have used a good few recipes from this site and I really look forward to Chris' emails with recipes…. But this sada roti one really win!!!!!! I have been making sada roti for about 8 years or more and I always used the naps cookbook…. And my sada has never ever came out this great!!!! This is definitely a keeper… And it doesnt need to rest as long as I thought… I actually saaykay the roti and it did swell… So thanks a million Chris….

  9. Catherine says:


    Your recipies have been inspirational and have made me home sick. Thank you for warming the heart and filling the stomach.


  10. Allie says:

    Wow thanks for the tip!!!

  11. Dawn says:

    Hi chis i tried ur method for swelling in the microwave and it worked thanks.

  12. ann says:

    Lorsh why didn't i think of using the bread attachment on my mixer…. hate the hand mixing so didn't make. Happy now, it was awesome.

  13. Afeisha says:

    Great job.. Must try. And yes to those asking, roti not sada does require butter or oil

  14. Grace says:

    Chris, thanks so much for posting this recipe.
    The local term i believe is – Sa-kaying.
    I'm not sure if I spelt it right, though!!

  15. Aneesa says:

    Hey Chris,
    Excellent work on Sada Roti! Here in Trinidad, we have it almost every morning at breakfast instead of bread. I like the microwave tip! Tried it and OMG! No more flat roti for me. The traditional word u were looking for was “saakay” pronounced “say-k”. Take care. Keep up the good work.


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