Sada roti is a popular breakfast food in Trinidad and Tobago.
It is essentially the same as rotis in India.
And it is used much in the same way: as a flatbread to eat with curries and gravies.
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What is Sada Roti
Sada roti is a round, unleavened flatbread that is similar to a chapati and pita bread.
It is mainly made with flour, baking powder and water; no yeast is used.
The roti is most often cooked on a cast iron tawa or flat griddle where it ‘swells’ in the center to form two layers.
Once cooked, the roti is cut into half or quarters and the layers make perfect pockets for cheese, chokas, and more.
In T&T, sada roti is most popular as a Trinidad breakfast food and is served alongside tomato choka, baigan (eggplant) choka and aloo (potato) choka.
Fried caraili (bitter melon), fried aloo (potato), saltfish, smoked herring, and many other side dishes also pair well with sada roti.
What is in Sada Roti
You only need these ingredients to make sada roti:
- all-purpose flour
- baking powder
- corn flour (optional)
Let’s talk about that all-purpose flour for a second. Look at the ingredients of your flour… does it contain baking powder? If so, you may not even need to add extra baking powder. Your roti will ‘swell’ without the extras.
If you want to use baking powder, make sure it is aluminum-free. I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Baking Powder with no added aluminum (get it on Amazon).
You can make sada roti without baking powder. The ‘swelling’ that occurs when cooking is due to the water turning into steam plus the raising action of the baking powder. So, your rotis can ‘swell’ without the baking powder. If it doesn’t, you can always pop the roti in the microwave for 30 seconds – that’ll make it all puffy.
Also, my mom likes to add corn flour to all of her rotis. The corn makes the roti denser so it doesn’t fall apart or get soggy too quickly.
She adds corn flour to her dhalpuri recipe too. Check out her tutorial on how to make Trini dhalpuri roti here.
What you need to make sada roti
Since roti is originally from East Indian cuisine, common equipment in the East Indian kitchen is used to make it.
A rolling pin and board are used to roll the dough out to form a roti. In Trinidad, we call the rolling pin a ‘belna’ (in Hindi, I think it’s called ‘belan’). The board is called a ‘chowki’ (‘chakla’ in Hindi). Your countertop works just as well as any rolling board.
To cook the roti, a ‘tawa’ is used. This is essentially a cast-iron flat pan. I have this one from Victoria (get it on Amazon). Hawkins/Futura also has a smaller non-stick one.
How to make sada roti
This is my mom’s typical sada roti recipe for one roti. You can scale up based on the number of rotis you want to make.
Knead the dough for sada roti
Mix the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and fill with water.
Mix, squeeze and knead. Pull all the dry flour from the sides and incorporate into the dough. Your bowl must be flour-free when you are done.
Add water slowly while kneading until a soft, smooth dough forms. Use your knuckles if necessary to get that smoothness.
If you add too much water, then incorporate a tablespoon or two of flour and continue kneading.
Cover the dough and allow to rest in a warm place. You can leave the dough for as little as 10 minutes or as much as 30 minutes.
If you’re using a 10-minute rest time, place your tawa on the stove during that time to ensure it heats up properly.
If you live in a colder climate, the surface of your dough may dry out a bit. To prevent this, coat the dough with a little oil or place plastic wrap over it.
When the resting time is over, place your tawa or griddle on the stove over medium heat.
How to roll out sada roti
Dust your surface with a liberal amount of flour. Dust your hands too.
Since this recipe is for a single roti, you can move straight to rolling it out.
If you have scaled up this recipe, then separate the dough into 3-inch to 4-inch dough balls. The exact size will depend on the size of your rolling surface and what you are using to cook the roti. If you don’t have a tawa and are using a smaller saucepan, then you’ll need to make smaller dough balls.
Lightly dust flour on the dough ball and rolling pin.
Press the ball down on the board. Use the rolling pin to roll out the dough to and fro for three to four times. Flip over and rotate 90 degrees and repeat rolling.
Continue doing this to form a circular roti. If it is not perfectly circular, direct the rolling pin in that direction, pushing thicker dough to that area. But, don’t dwell on making it perfect! It doesn’t have to be… it’ll taste great regardless.
If the dough begins to stick to the surface, add a dusting of flour and continue rolling.
Eventually you should have a roti rolled out to an eighth of an inch thick. Thicker rotis will take longer to cook properly. Thinner rotis will not form sturdy pockets for your chokas.
Dust off any excess flour on both sides of the roti. Then, place on your preheated ‘tawa’ on the stove.
If you have multiple dough balls, roll out your next roti.
How to cook sada roti
If you are using a cast-iron tawa, you should give it at least five minutes to heat up on medium heat. A roti can cook within 2 minutes but it’ll take longer or won’t swell if the cooking surface is not at the right temperature.
As air bubbles begin to form on the roti, flip immediately (even if you have to stop rolling out your next roti).
After a couple seconds, spin the roti to ensure even distribution of heat. Use a cloth too, the roti will be hot!
Continue spinning. Pull the edges of the roti to the center of the tawa. The center is usually the hottest part of the tawa and you want to cook the roti edges properly.
Flip the roti again. The water from the dough should be steam at this point. That plus the raising action of the baking powder (due to carbon dioxide) will cause the roti to ‘swell’ … provided there are no holes in the roti.
You can also gently push on the swollen parts to force the gases to spread throughout the roti.
If the puffing action doesn’t happen, pull the tawa slightly off the stove to expose the flame. Push the roti close to or even over the flame – that should cause almost immediate swelling. Spin the roti quickly since you don’t want it to burn. This technique is locally called saykaying the roti.
Make sure the edges and both sides are cooked, with a few brown spots here and there (I love more brown spots on mine).
How to store the sada roti
Remove from the tawa.
Cut into quarters and pull the two layers apart slightly.
Here’s another important step when it comes to making sada roti.
Wrap your roti quarters in a thick napkin or tea towel. Place the roti in an airtight container. The container will trap the heat and steam. And that trapped steam is what will soften the roti and keep it soft for many, many hours.
If you do not wrap the roti or trap the steam, your roti will become very stiff as it cools.
Another way to soften the roti is to brush it with oil or butter or ghee.
Hot sada roti is best served immediately. But it will last throughout the day.
It is not usual for sada roti to be refrigerated. It becomes too stiff. If you do refrigerate it, be sure to sprinkle water on the roti before microwaving for 30 seconds (or cover with a damp cloth while microwaving). The roti will stay soft while warm but will stiffen as it cools. Don’t over-microwave either.
How many calories are in a sada roti?
One sada roti using this recipe has 450 Calories so one quarter will give about 112.5 Calories.
Sada Roti Recipe
Sada Roti Recipe
- Tawa (flat cast iron griddle)
- ⅞ cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ⅛ cup corn flour
- ¼ cup water
- * additional flour for dusting
- Mix dry ingredients together.
- Make a well in the center and add half of the water.
- Knead by squeezing the ingredients together.
- As the dough begins to form, add water a little at a time until a soft, smooth dough forms.
- Cover in a warm place (coat with oil or plastic wrap and a towel to prevent drying of the dough surface).
- Allow to rest for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Preheat a tawa, flat pan or griddle on the stove on medium heat.
- Dust your surface and rolling pin with dry flour.
- Roll out the dough ball (flipping occasionally) until it is an eighth of an inch in thickness.
- Dust off any excess flour on both sides of the roti.
- Place on tawa.
- When bubbles form on the surface, flip the roti on the tawa.
- Spin to allow even heat distribute.
- Flip after 15 to 30 seconds and continue spinning.
- Pull the roti edges to the hottest part of the tawa to ensure even cooking. Pull the tawa slightly off the stove if necessary and push the roti off the edge towards the exposed heat.
- Spin to ensure even swelling of the roti.
- Flip over and continue until the roti is cooked and has a few brown spots.
- Remove from heat, cut in quarters.
- Serve immediately with chokas, curries and stews.
- Or wrap and place in airtight container to trap the heat and steam.
Dosti roti is a double layered roti mainly made with flour and water and stuck together with butter or oil and dry flour.
Dhalpuri is another type of roti that has been stuffed with seasoned ground yellow split peas (or dhal).
Baigan or eggplant choka is made with roasted eggplant and garlic, all mashed together and mixed with onions, seasonings, and hot oil. It is especially tasted with hot sada roti.
Tomato choka is best served with sada roti. It is made with roasted tomatoes and garlic, onion, pepper and seasonings.