What better way to start a winter morning than 'Rotla-dahi-marcha'?!
Rotla - Gujarati for 'Bajre ki roti' is made from 'bajra ata' or pearl millet flour. The flour is made into a dough by adding water and kneading. From here there are two ways to proceed. One is the traditional 'Kutchi' way where a ball of dough is taken in the hands and the palms are spread out and the dough is pressed to slowly flatten it out. Only the palms of the hands are used to turn it into the final size and shape. Slowly, firmly and steadily. The other way is to use the good old 'belan' or the rolling pin to flatten it out and get it to the desired dimensions. Needless to say, the former method results in the best 'rotlas'. After this, the 'rotla' is cooked either on a 'tava' or in an earthen pot with a fire beneath.
The 'rotla' is an ideal winter dish. It can be had in a variety of ways. It is often eaten with curd and green chillies with 'tadka' - or 'vagharela marcha'. Another popular combination is 'rotla-godh-chaas' where the 'rotla' is eaten with jaggery and buttermilk. One of my favorite combinations is eating the 'rotla' with brinjal curry. The two go very well together.
Unfortunately the 'rotla' is made in a very few places using the traditional method (with the hands without using a rolling pin). I really enjoy these 'rotlas'. The process of making them is very time-consuming however. Traditional Kutchi households still make them. Whenever any of my family friends or relatives visit Kutch, I make sure they bring back a bunch of 'rotlas' for me!
People who have not been initiated to the 'rotla' can find its look quite ordinary. I have often heard phrases like 'poor man's food' being associated with it! Make no mistake however. Once you are hooked to it, it is indeed difficult to stay away from it for too long!
Rarely will you find a Kutchi who does not love his 'rotla' in the harsh winters of Kutch. The 'bajra' that goes into it helps keep the body warm. The best 'bajra' is also available in the winter months. Nature's way of teaching us what to eat when, I guess!