Roti from the mountains

From the nuances of rotis from the flatlands of India, let’s go across the border to Nepal, where they have a different take on roti entirely. Here wheat flour does not feature at all in any form, nor for that matter any grain. A non-grain-based roti! I am intrigued.

Instead, phapar ko roti, which merely means buckwheat roti, is made out of the flour of the seeds of the buckwheat plant. Not being a grass (in fact, I have some growing in my garden, and it has club-shaped, distinctly non-grass-like leaves), buckwheat seeds are not properly considered a grain at all.

Perhaps that is a tad too clever. At any rate buckwheat seeds are turned into flour, turned into breakfast cereal, turned into noodles, risen with yeast, and in most ways eaten like a grain.

I came upon buckwheat by way of Santa Cruz, California, where my husband first discovered buckwheat pancakes. I recreated them at home, and since then we have been big fans of the distinctly…umm…muddy (meaty?) taste of buckwheat.

A flat, savory buckwheat crepe was a completely new concept for me when I heard about it from my Nepali friend. I’m always looking for new taste sensations, so let’s get started — Phapar ko roti.

Ingredients (just two, as in the more familiar wheat roti)

phapar ko roti 002

Quarter cup of buckwheat flour

1/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 cup + 1 tbsp water

(this much is enough for one serving, increase as needed)


phapar ko roti 003

Buckwheat flour: stir with whisking motion

Phapar ko roti batter

Phapar ko roti batter

Stir the water in with the buckwheat flour using a sort of whisking motion until you get a batter that can be poured. Feel free to adjust either the water or the flour. Heat a large non-stick pan on medium-high. Now the recipe I read actually suggested not using any oil at all; I tried that, but all I got was a mess.

phapar ko roti 010

Phapar ko roti: my lovely mess

phapar ko roti 011

Phapar ko roti: second attempt

So next I tried using a teaspoon of oil on the Calphalon pan, spreading it around, and then pouring my batter on. Tilt the pan this way and that to get the batter to spread. It will start to set very quickly. I flipped it over in a matter of ten or twenty seconds, when most of the top surface has set. Cook on the other side for about another twenty seconds.

Take it off the pan. Here is my lunch:

phapar ko roti with radish achaar

phapar ko roti with radish achaar

I will have to blog the Nepali radish pickle another time. The flavor of the roti was very mild and made a good substrate for a spicy side.


4 thoughts on “Roti from the mountains

  1. Buckwheat! There are gorgeous French crepes made with this, also wonderful Italian cakes, one of which i plan to write about soon. And– being gluten-free– that’s an important “tag” because so many of us seem to be having gluten and wheat issues. Looking forward as well to reading about the Nepali pickle! And wish I could make you Kasha and Bowties, which is soul food to me x.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s