Whether your little one loves vegetables or pushes them to the side of the plate, you might be looking for new ways to get your kids to eat more of them. Well, look no further, because here’s your answer: Big Apple Curry’s Rainbow Roti. It’s easy to make, it’s chewy and crispy, it’s fun to eat, and it’s packed with fresh vegetables. Your kids will love it.
In South India a delicate, richly flavored flatbread from Karnataka is called ‘Akki (Rice) Roti.’ This tender, crispy roti is easy to make, combining soft rice flour with finely grated coconut and vegetables, hand-pressing it into a skillet, and then roasting it quickly on both sides with a bit of oil. A base of rice flour and coconut create the perfect canvas for fresh vegetables like carrots and baby spinach. The key to this dish is the grating: because they’re finely grated right into the dough, the shards of fresh vegetables blend into the roti itself and are almost hidden, enhancing the rich flavors of the rice and coconut. Because the flatbread is thin, once it’s roasted, the red, green, purple, and yellow-hued slivers make it look like an intricate painting or kaleidoscope. This roti has a toothsome chewiness, but is crispy at the same time. As my friend Yasmina says, Indian food can be a great choice for kids because it can have interesting textures and be fun to eat.
Big Apple Curry’s Rainbow Roti has six vegetables in it — carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, baby spinach, green pepper, red pepper — imagine getting that many vegetables into your kids in one sitting? This recipe will be a hit with your fussiest little eaters and is a terrific addition to weekly meal planning for busy Mommy or Daddy.
What is the inspiration for Big Apple Curry’s Rainbow Roti? I absolutely love vegetables. As much as I love chicken tikka masala and lamb kebabs, I grew up eating hallmark Indian vegetable dishes like smoky oven-roasted eggplant and crispy pan-fried okra. Yesterday, as I watched Liam dig into his lunch of fish, basmati rice, and green peas, I found myself wondering how to get multiple vegetables onto his plate. When he was a baby, I would add finely chopped or pureed vegetables to soft scrambled eggs and creamy macaroni & cheese. Now at almost 2.5 years old, my little one can be picky sometimes, but he’s generally a good eater who gobbles up dishes like broccoli & cheese and basmati rice and green peas. Still, I’ve been thinking about a) creative ways to get more vegetables on his plate and b) recipes that don’t necessarily cover veggies with cheese or pasta sauce.
I thought about how my mom Geetha adds shredded carrots, cabbage, and onion to her homemade akki rotis, so when I saw this bowl of vegetables on her counter, I asked mom if she could make a special akki roti with as many fresh vegetables in it as possible, so Liam could test it out. Mom obliged (photos and steps are detailed below) and Liam loved everything about it — how it looked, felt, and the fact he could tear it apart into different shapes and eat it with his hands. Et voila, the Rainbow Roti was born. Try it out, see if your kids like our Rainbow Roti, and let me know by posting a comment below!
Big Apple Curry’s Rainbow Roti
Yields 4 medium-sized rotis
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1.5 cups finely grated/shredded raw vegetables of your choice (we used carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, baby spinach, green pepper, red pepper, red onion)
- 2 tablespoons finely grated coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 teaspoons warm water
- 2 teaspoons canola oil or vegetable oil
- Combine the first three ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix well with your hands and form into a dough, adding 1-2 teaspoons of cold water as necessary (the raw vegetables provide most of the moisture to enable you to get it into a dough). Divide the dough into four equal parts, make them into balls using your hands, and set aside.
- Take a large, unheated nonstick frying pan and add canola oil and spread to cover the pan evenly.
- Take one ball of the dough and press it into the center of the pan with your palm, gradually pressing it and stretching it out into a thin roti. Roast that side on a medium high flame. Spread 1/2 teaspoon of oil on top.
- Flip the roti to the other side when the bottom is light brown in color; and continue to roast on the other side (approximately 2-3 minutes on each side). *Important: because you make the first roti by pressing the dough into a cold, unheated nonstick skillet, before you roast the subsequent roti is, it’s important to cool the pan first. Do this by rinsing it in water and drying it off OR you can use two pans and alternate each one.