Pathiri, bhakri, ubbu akki rotti – Brown rice flatbread

I did not know it was called ‘pathiri’ and when I made rice flour bhakris by cooking the rice flour and then rolling them into thin discs, I joyfully thought I had hit upon a great method of making them.  Pooey! And then guffaws followed, as my little bubble of joy burst into laughter at the thought of my silliness.  I found that rice flatbreads were being cooked this way for ages in Kerala. 😀

Has this ever happened to you?  The ‘eureka’ moment and then the bursting?  It is this feeling of ‘eureka’ that makes cooking fun for me.  The feeling is akin to what I felt when, after a whole week of relentlessly splashing my feet to stay up in the pool side, one day I suddenly did not go down and ended up swimming.  That is the kind of joy and satisfaction I get when I learn recipes – making mistakes, pursuing relentlessly and then stumbling upon perfection.  And the mistakes?  They help me share tips and anticipate blunders. Do you remember when I shared ‘nachni chi bhakri‘ [Millet flat breads] a year back?  I had mentioned then and I must say it once again.

Indian flatbreds do not contain gum, which means they are more  susceptible to tear.  Traditional Maharashtrian ‘tandool chi bhakri’ (Rice flatbreads) are made with rice flour by adding hot water.  This renders them hard after 2-3 hours.  Pathiri on the other hand is made by cooking the rice flour, which means more moisture and hence softer flatbreads.  One day, I was left with excess modak or kozhakottai dough and it occurred to  me that  the dough was just perfect to roll out bhakris.  It was firm, without any lumps, smooth and very elastic.  That day onwards the ‘modak batter’ became my go to recipe for pathiris.  It has never failed me.

White & brown rice are very different too.  You cannot use the same quantity of water to cook brown rice as you would for white rice.  Similarly the water amount varies even while cooking rice batter.  The recipe I am sharing today is for pathiri with brown rice, using the soaked, ground, method.  If you are using white rice, please look at the recipe for the dough I use for modaks.  It is exactly the same.

The amount of water used to cook varies with the variety of rice. Usually basmati, kolam and ambemohar need more or less the same amount. You can read more about that here. I tried making pathiris with ‘puzhakkal ari / puzhungal arusi / ukda chawal’ [parboiled rice], but the result is not good. Raw rice is what we need to make this.

Recipe: Pathiri (of Kerala) or Bhakri (of Maharashtra) with brown basmati rice
This recipe does not use any gum as a binder

Preparing the dough:

Brown basmati rice – 2 cups (about 860g)
[Rinse rice well and soak in 2 cups of water overnight. Next morning drain the water in a colander. Retain the water.]
Fresh grated coconut – 2 tbsps. [optional]
Fine ground sea salt to taste
Oil – 1/2 tsp.
Water – 1 + 1/2 (this includes the water retained after draining rice above)
(1/2 cup for grinding batter and 1 cup for cooking)


Grind rice along with coconut and sea salt to a smooth batter. I use an ordinary mixer, and do it in intervals, preferably with refrigerated water. It takes me about 15 mins. to do this.

Pass the batter through a soup strainer to make sure that there are absolutely no granules. The batter must be smooth or you will have lumps. I add 1/4 cup of water in the early stages of grinding, and 1/4 cup later. In between I use a spoon to push back the rice on the sides of the blender into the center.

Heat the remaining 1 cup of water in a heavy-base stainless steel vessel with oil and salt, bringing to the boil. Now pour the strained batter and keep stirring and cooking the mixture. I use a slotted spoon that can be used to stir, cut and turn over the batter as it cooks. The portions that get cooked will turn pale. Turn the uncooked side to the bottom, cut through the sticky mass and after about 15 minutes of cooking you will find the dough coming together in a ball. At this stage, remove from heat, cover the vessel with a tight lid and let the dough cook in the residual steam. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, with an oiled finger wipe a flat plate, tray or ‘paraat’ [tambaalam] and turn the dough onto it. If it was cut and cooked there will be no lumps. Gently knead till firm, smooth and elastic.

Making the pathiri/ rolling out rice rotis:

Divide and form about 20 smooth spheres. I made 19 and found that the average weight of one ball was about 45g.

Keep some brown rice flour aside to dust the platform.

Heat a cast iron skillet till hot and reduce the flame. Roll one sphere into a flat, round, smooth roti as described below.

I use a roti stand (chakla) and I dust it liberally with the flour. Roll one ball gently over the rice flour and press lightly into a thick disc. Roll in the flour again. With a rolling pin (belan), roll out discs that are about 6-7 inches in diameter. If they tear as you roll, you are being too fast or too hard on it. Dust with more flour but not excessively. While making gluten free breads, without gum, it is the surface that should have adequate flour and not the top of the bread. If not the bread will stick to the platform.

Flip with your hand by lifting from the edge, quickly gathering it with your palm and flip it on to the skillet. Cook as you would cook a roti.

30seconds on one side. Flip with a pancake turner. Cook a minute on the other side over high flame. Again flip back and you will find the pathiri slowly puffing. If there are any holes, the pathiri will not puff. Gently cover the hole with the pancake turner and pray that the hole isn’t too big for all the hot air to escape.

And don’t worry. They will puff. Just begin with 3mm thick rotis and go upto 2mm as you gain confidence.

The nutty flavour, the smooth slippery texture of each mouthful is totally worth the effort.

And then you will discover, like I did, why I gave up the flour method and why I am hooked to the batter method. Carry this for lunch, make it in the morning and serve it at dinner. It won’t turn into a cracker. It will be soft as it was when you made it.

I would serve with a Kerala stew, a hearty chhole, but we had to deal with more Hindi – Jr.P and I. And all I could quickly make was paruppu thogayal (Lentil and coconut chutney)


Recipe: Paruppu thogayal
Yield: 2 cups


Split, husked, yellow mung lentils [moong dal / pasiparuppu] – 1 cup
Fresh grated coconut – 3/4 cup, very loosely filled
Dry Red chillies – 3 (as per taste)
An inch of dark tamarind
Fine ground sea salt – to taste

Roast mung till aromatic and golden.

Cool and grind with the rest of the ingredients, adding a little water to let the blender work, maximum of 1/2 cup.

I like mine coarse. I am a very textural person. I rarely make smooth chutneys.

Updated:  Sia says these are called ‘ubbu akki rotti’ and it is made exactly this way!  Wow!

Tear a piece of roti, use it to grab some of the chutney. Eat.  When made properly, the flatbreads will form two layers.

That is veganmofo, day 8, and living organic, eating healthy, avoiding unprocessed foods and living on wholegrains.  All October I will feature one Indian dish a day that will be made as far as possible with wholegrains.  I eat organic and avoid processed foods always.

On a different note, today I found this tweet by Mr.Sanjeev Kapoor, a leading chef in India and globally renowned. It made my day.

Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor recommended tweeted about Tongue Ticklers


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Bobbie {the vegan crew}

    Wow, this is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for the recipes!

    • Vai

      Harini, your recipe is very traditional. No where on internet do we have anything close to it. All r still making pathiri and ubbu akki roti with the same rice flour.

      Keep it up my friend.

      • Harini

        Thank you. I feel this turns out softer and better than with rice flour.

  • Richa

    Awesome! congrats on the tweet! the bhakri looks amazing. i havent made anything like this before.. great gf collection for mofo:)

    • Harini

      Thanks Richa! It felt good to see a vegan blog noticed by a leading chef.:) And I always thought I did not have much to post! Mofo is inspiring. 😀

  • Sia | Monsoon Spice

    Harini, this is very similar to Ubbu akki rotti we make in Karnataka (ubbu means puffed up). Soaked rice is ground to smooth batter along with fresh grated coconut and then cooked in a kadai to make soft dough. The lemon sized dough ball is rolled into thin roties by keeping it in between two wet muslin cloth or greased banana leaves/thick plastic sheets. It is then directly transferred on a hot tawa and cooked (the one flattened in between banana leaves tastes the best as the rotti is cooked keeping it between two banana leaves and the flavour of this rotti is just sensational). It puffs up beautifully leaving the roties soft and flaky.

    Ah, talking about it makes me crave for them. The only one pregnancy cravings I had when I was pregnant with P were this Ubbu akki rotti and made only by my Amma. So she made it for me on the day she arrived and I ate this everyday, even on the day when I went to deliver P 🙂 So many fond memories attached with this rotti!

    • Harini

      Thanks for sharing so mmuch information. I am not surprised as regional cuisines must have traveled, but I am surprised that these are not available in Bangalore. So much for ‘eureka’!:D Such beautiful memories, too, Sia!

  • PG

    Harini, you deserve every attention you get. And it makes me happy too. You know I have seen how your blog has grown and matured and it is a beautiful place to come to in every way.
    I have been visiting your blog regularly eventhough i don’t leave comments everytime. And also forwarding many of your glutenfree and diary fre recipes to my sister who has in fact just moved to Banglore.
    Now i have one question for you: Is there a way to find out if a fresh coconut is still good or if it’s turned bad. I am asking ’cause i have already thrown away so many coconuts after opening them. From outside there was nothing visible. They have a long journey behind them by the time they reach us here but still. And you don’t necessarily get them cheap here. 🙂

    • Harini

      Thanks, PG! I really appreciate and treasure your words. 🙂 As for a good coconut, I tap and shake and if the sound is of clear water I buy it. If the coconut is spoilt it sounds different. I do not know how to express it, but that is how I make it out. Why don’t you try it next time? I will also ask my nariyal walla about it.

      • PG

        thanks, Harini! Now I know what to look for. 🙂

  • Lindsay

    Yum, I can’t wait to try this!! Thanks for a gluten free flatbread recipe!!

    • Harini

      Pleasure, Lindsay! And please let me know your experience. 🙂

  • chinmayie @ love food eat

    We call this ‘Akki rotti’, it’s a speciality of the ‘Malnad’ (Chickmangalur and around) region in karnataka. I have never tried making this as I always thought it ‘s complicated.

    • Harini

      Do you mean ‘ubbu akki rotti’? Sia mentioned it in her comment, and I thought it was only restricted to Kerala!! This is very easy to make.

  • Gomathi

    Awesome Harini ….love the way it looks….can I make the dough at night n roll them out in the morning for dabba?

    • Harini

      Yes, you can. Keep the dough in an airtight container in the fridge. It will get spoilt outside. You will have to thaw the dough for at least half an hour (or 1 hr) before you begin to roll out. If there are any droplets on the dough due to condensation, soak with tissue before proceeding.

  • Manasi

    The batter method is new to me. I have always used the rice flour method, for convenience. I will try your method, with white rice ( at times like this , I wish I had a wet grinder and I could use brown rice)

    I like how easily your bhakri/ Pathiri folds into a triangle, that is the magic of batter, I believe!

    Congrats on Sanjeev Kapoor’s tweet, it was a matter of time 🙂

    • Harini

      Manasi, I used a mixer and not a wet grinder. Probably you should try brown rice. And like you said, yes, the batter method makes bhakris very pliant. Thanks! Matter of time? 😀

  • GiGi

    Wait a minute I thought these were my idea. Indian cooking would be nothing without me 😉
    These are beautiful and I love that they get soft.
    I have had that eureka moment when all is busted. Last year I thought I came up with an original way to make ice creme in my new ice creme maker and then I glanced at Veganomicon and Isa and HOpe had beat me to it. Aaargh!

    • Harini

      Gigi! Well, well. At least you had your moment.:D Just got there a tad later than Isa and Hope! And yes, we still need you for insights.:)

  • Soma

    Just saw the Sanjeev Kapoor tweet!!!!! 🙂

    I found my eureka moment today (well may be it is already done.. but i never did it).. I made crepes (like adai) with the urad dal vada batter i had 🙂 .. added onion, and chili powder and it made great afterschook snack for the kids.

    i never had pathiri. love how you styled them on comfy homey steel plates. really pretty.

    • Harini

      Well, I add onions and make bhajias but not crepes, so that was ‘eureka’, I suppose?!:D Thanks, Soma!

  • Desisoccermom

    I have never tried making bhakri with a cooked dough. Though I have never made a rice bhakri either.
    I have been on a bajra, juwar bhakri binge but since its just me who eats it in the house, I quickly knead the dough with some water and spread it out on the skillet directly like a thalipeeth.
    Your method sounds very interesting especially for making a bigger batch of bhakris. Can you make a slightly bigger batch and keep it for a while?

    • Harini

      Jaya, I have never made it directly on the skillet. I am scared to try it. Does the tawa’s heat not get to your fingers? I haven’t tried jowar much. Bajra, ragi, makai and rice I am ok with.

      You can make this 4-5 hours in advance. It keeps well for 8-10 hours.

      • Desisoccermom

        I heat the tawa and then turn the gas down. You have spread it out quickly and using some water helps. It is just a matter of getting used to it, I guess.

        • Harini

          I will try this method. My mother says akki rotti is also made that way.

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