In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

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.

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53 Comments

  1. Stephanie Maharaj
    August 3, 2020 / 8:42 pm

    Hi, I’ve been following your recipes for a few years now, so thank you. I made your sada roti with tomatoes, onions and green peppers, my husband is from Trinidad so he eats pepper, not me, lol.

  2. October 11, 2017 / 1:39 pm

    Hi Chris,

    I followed the recipe and did the microwave trick but it did not work for me, my roties came out hard and bland. Don’t know where I went wrong…maybe more kneading more resting?

    I’m used to making roties with butter which makes them flaky, any other recipes I could try without fat?

  3. Melissa
    September 14, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    Thanks for the recipe. If I have to use Wheat or flax seed flour what will be the measurement?

  4. Rabiah
    May 31, 2016 / 3:51 pm

    I really appreciate ur recipes. Living in America I want my kids still grow up with my food and culture. You make it easy and it always taste good. Love ur videos for extra clarification. God Bless. Btw u are my favorite Trini chef I always resort to. Thanks.

  5. Barbara Schoenberger
    December 13, 2015 / 1:20 am

    CHRIS I JUST WANTEDTO TELL YOU THE DAHL SPLIT PEAS SOUP WAS
    THE BESTVI HAVE EVER EVER HAD!! I COULD NOT GET ENOUGH OF THE
    FLAVOR!! ANYONE NOT MAKING IT IS REALLY MISSING OUT ON SOMETHING SPECIAL!!

  6. Pat
    September 30, 2015 / 10:26 am

    Just found this recipe via a back reference from your vegetable cream cheese recipe of this morning. I’m not a cream cheese fan but I love roti with my curry. I’m one of those fumble-fingers who could only make “hard” roti fit for the trash bin. I notice one of the comments mentioned clapping the finished roti so I want to know if this is the same kind of base for the roti I can stuff with peas masala and then clap? It has been so long since I last had that that I must try it as soon as possible. Thanks Chris, ever so much.

  7. Dave
    September 28, 2015 / 8:11 am

    Chris, You need to venture down to Mississauga. There is a fabulous Caribbean restaurant on Erin Mills just north of the QEW called Calabash. Excellent flavours and Trini- focused. Roti, jerk chicken, oxtail, cajun stewed chicken, fried king fish, phoulorie, etc. Let me know if you want to try it – I could even meet you there. Love your recipes. Dave

  8. daren
    May 11, 2015 / 8:10 am

    what kind of flour do you use? bleached or unbleached?
    self rising flour?

    • admin
      May 12, 2015 / 5:27 pm

      here it’s called allpurpose.. bleached.

  9. wendi
    November 24, 2014 / 7:41 am

    DWL. Where was this recipe yesterday when I needed it. After making an awesome curried chicken,I craved roti, as I do not like rice. Yes, I’m an unusually West Indian. Anyway, I improvised and came up with almost the same recipe. The first one I rolled to thin and made a soda cracker, but quickly remedied that. I clapped them then wrapped in plastic wrap, no microwave They were delicious.

  10. Janet
    November 11, 2014 / 10:43 pm

    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.

  11. bri
    July 22, 2014 / 6:02 pm

    What does saakay mean

  12. Pakou
    June 4, 2014 / 12:19 am

    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? 🙁

  13. Kathryn
    April 11, 2014 / 3:38 am

    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.

  14. zahn
    January 23, 2014 / 12:11 pm

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

  15. Lorna
    November 6, 2013 / 1:30 pm

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

  16. Carl
    August 21, 2013 / 1:13 am

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

  17. niecey
    April 16, 2013 / 3:38 pm

    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….

  18. Catherine
    March 6, 2013 / 6:54 pm

    Chris,

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

    Catherine

  19. Allie
    December 4, 2012 / 8:36 pm

    Wow thanks for the tip!!!

  20. Dawn
    May 16, 2012 / 8:44 am

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

  21. ann
    May 5, 2012 / 12:40 pm

    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.

  22. Afeisha
    February 24, 2012 / 10:39 am

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

  23. Grace
    February 2, 2012 / 7:20 pm

    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!!

  24. Aneesa
    August 19, 2011 / 9:11 pm

    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.

  25. Londonlime
    August 15, 2011 / 12:13 pm

    beautifully illustrated! just passing this onto my bro to make with choka.

  26. Karisha
    July 20, 2011 / 5:45 pm

    Hi Chris: Roti flour has to be mixed different from T'dad. Our air is dry. Therefore, one should use tepid (warm) water. Remember you are not making pastry,( whereby you would use cold water). About the baking powder: To every cup of flour you add 1 teaspoon of double-a- action baking powder(blue ribbon). When mixing the flour make sure it looks and feel wet. When all the flour is mixed and you are ready to knead it, then and only then you add dry flour accordingly. I use a 4inch high alluminum pot. Never have to microwave to swell. Heat should be set a few notches above medium.

  27. Doonwati
    June 30, 2011 / 12:23 am

    Hi Chris, I've been freezing this kind of roti for a very long time now and it freezes very well but you have to know how to reheat it else you will end up getting a rock instead of a roti. I learned to reheat it after getting a few rocks myself. When reheating it make sure that you take it out of the Microwave before it gets heated through. Remember anything that's cooking in the Microwave will continue cooking after it is out, so you got to be extremely careful in the process.

  28. Marissa
    April 24, 2011 / 9:21 am

    Question: Is there any difference between normal baking powder and double acting baking powder when making the sada roti? All the baking powder available in the US seems to be the double-acting type and my mother (in Trinidad) says it means I should use half of the baking powder the recipe calls for.

    • karisha
      July 20, 2011 / 5:35 pm

      Hi Marissa: Use the double acting baking powder. 1 teaspoon to 1 cup flour. Also, do not use cold water. Use tepid water

  29. WIQueen
    March 22, 2011 / 3:13 pm

    From Barbados: For the Ground Provisions alternative name…I know it as Stew Food as well. Anytime we heard Stew Food for after-school lunch, it meant steamed or boiled provisions usually with a butter-gravy or salt fish stew/ gravy and ALWAYS includes dumplings!! (not the soup kind, the softer, bigger and fluffier kind.

  30. Marissa
    January 26, 2011 / 7:37 am

    Had to comment. I've always been daunted to make sada roti even though I've seen my mom do it a gazillion times, and my MIL also showed me how to. But I'm a recipe person, I like measurements and steps, unlike those older pros who "know just how much & how to" without a measurement or a glance at the clock. This recipe was so easy to follow, much easier than the one in my trusty Naps Cookbook! My roti came out PERFECT for the first time ever. I'm in Orlando, and needed only 1cup water. Have no tawa, no rolling pin; used a frying pan and a bottle of olives, and the microwave method. Thank you. My husband is going to be a happy man! 🙂

  31. Eileen
    January 23, 2011 / 3:24 am

    I made this roti to go with your ultimate curry chicken. The chicken was delicious , but the roti did not turn out well at all. I swelled it in the microwave and only a little corner of it puffed up, not at all like your pictures. The rotis were also a little bit too chewy. Any idea what I did wrong?

  32. Liisa
    September 25, 2010 / 7:43 pm

    My neighbors are Trini's and my son is always over there eating. He loves it! So, hopefully, I can reproduce some of these recipes at least. My husband is also from St. Lucia, so he is looking forward to it as well. I'm from Finland so I have a little bit more trepidation than they do…but I'm gonna try!

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:10 pm

      Lovely to have you visiting here. Don't hesitate in contacting me should you need help with anything.

  33. Gilda
    August 23, 2010 / 6:08 am

    Hello Chris:

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I like the fact that it does not require oil the way most other roti recipes do, and it seems very simple to make. I'll definitely give it a try.

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:09 pm

      yes, the oil can be a turnoff with most roti, since it adds a very unhealthy aspect to it. But they're so tasty 🙂 Thx for stopping by and commenting

  34. philis
    August 6, 2010 / 9:20 pm

    Hi Chris, you make cooking seem like a breeze, I always anxiously await your next recipe. Keep up the good work.

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:09 pm

      thanks.. your comment is appreciated.

  35. sheena
    August 2, 2010 / 1:05 pm

    HI Chris, Im from the virgin islands(tortola) and I love roti and i also reside in Boston………How can u make the roti skin as an easy recipe???

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:08 pm

      I assume you mean dhalpourie (one with the filling)? I'm trying to get my mom to help me with that recipe.. stay tuned and I'll have something for you.

      • Pat
        September 2, 2012 / 6:11 pm

        I have an easy recipe for "Dahlpourie". I'm a born Canadian, & was still able to make them acceptable to Trinis.

  36. monica
    April 12, 2010 / 7:50 am

    Hi Chris,

    I am new carribean pot and I really enjoy your recipes. It so refreshing to have you as a guide to many old and new creations.
    Thanks

    • April 18, 2010 / 12:09 am

      Monica, thanks for your kind comments and support. it's appreciated.

      • Marjorie
        November 15, 2012 / 6:07 pm

        Hey Cris, I live in Brooklyn and I just happened to get on your cooking website and I joined and I am really enjoying your recipes. So much so that I shared it with my sis-in-law in Canada. She loves cassava pone so I sent her the recipe and now she is also on the site. You are teaching me to mke so many Caribbean food, I really appreciate.
        Thanks again.
        Marjorie

  37. Elaine
    April 6, 2010 / 5:58 pm

    Chris is this the same recipe for making the ordinary roti? I thought some fat of some sort had to be included.

    • April 18, 2010 / 12:09 am

      This is as ordinary as it gets, when it comes to roti 9I'm just learning as well). No fat is included in this one.

      Cheers

  38. Wendy
    January 3, 2010 / 3:06 pm

    Thanks for the tip about using the microwave. I’m still practicing getting this right. Also, thanks for your warm greetings.

    • April 18, 2010 / 12:08 am

      The microwave trick is the way i learned, since we had an electric stove and it didn't work well without an open flame.

      happy cooking

      • Adella
        June 26, 2010 / 11:52 am

        Hi… I use an electric stove and it works perfect, I use the circular ring which comes with a wok which fits perfectly around the big burner of the stove and then place the tahwah on it.

  39. December 27, 2009 / 4:40 pm

    sada sounds easy, but do I grease the tawa with oil?

    • April 18, 2010 / 12:07 am

      I've never had to, but if you find that your roti is sticking, you may have too a little. The key is to find the right temp.. not low and not too high (not sure if that helps)

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