In our monthly column with Archana Pidathala, author of the beloved cookbook Five Morsels of Love, we explore the art of getting your child excited about the sights and sounds of a kitchen.
We were at a friend’s home for her little girl’s fifth birthday party some months ago. It was a small and intimate home party, with the smell of freshly plucked lemons and baked potatoes permeating the air. The children were running around all evening building tents, singing at the top of their voices, and snacking on crisp baby tomatoes, cucumber sticks, sautéed mushrooms and chocolate cake. The birthday girl’s dad, Vikram, is a chef and everything that was served at the party was homemade and delicious. The standout dish of the evening however, was Akki rotti pizza! And neither the children nor adults could get enough.
While I do say in jest all the time that as a parent, there is no escaping the tyranny of the 3 Ps — Pizza, Pasta and Paneer — there is no denying that summoning one of the Ps has made life easy on days when one is too exhausted to come up with dinner ideas. Akki rotti is a simple gluten-free rice flour flatbread very common and popular in Karnataka. To ‘transform’ an akki rotti into a pizza, just add plenty of grated cheese while the flatbread is cooking on a pan. One can get rather ingenious with toppings on the akki rotti pizza — grated carrot, olives, pomegranate arils, crumbled panner, to name just a few.
Most children like mixing flour and water, and marvel at the change in texture. You can set your little one to knead the dough for the rotti, and get them to help with grating cheese and prepping any other toppings you wish to use. When Arjun and I set out to make the mini rottis, the first few got stuck to the pan and we had to scrape them out. We piled the broken shards of akki rotti into a plate, sprinkled over some freshly grated coconut, dill leaves and pomegranate arils, and made a snack out of it. Arjun was quite pleased with the fact that we converted our first batch of ‘failed’ rottis into something quite delicious. The kitchen is a great place for children to learn about failure and to not be afraid of it.
AKKI ROTTI PIZZA
(Makes 15 mini flatbreads)
2 cups rice flour (I used freshly milled red rice flour)
2 tbsp freshly grated coconut
2 tbsp finely chopped dill leaves (optional)
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
Enough vegetable oil to cook the crepes
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup water
Place the rice flour in a bowl and add the grated coconut, dill, coriander leaves, salt and mix well. Add water 2-3 tablespoons at a time, mix and knead to form a crumbly dough.
Divide the rice flour mixture into 15 equal portions and flatten into palm sized discs on parchment paper. Alternatively, grease your palms and press the ball of dough between your palms and flatten it out. Heat a round, well-seasoned iron griddle or non-stick pan over high heat until very hot.
Reduce the heat to medium. Place 3-4 rottis at a time on the pan.
Cook for a minute and flip the rottis.
Cook for a couple of minutes and sprinkle over the parmesan on the flatbreads.
Cook till the rottis are mildly crisp and the cheese has just begun to melt.
Take the rottis off the pan, sprinkle with more cheese and any other toppings of your choice and serve hot.
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