Sel roti

I love this roti. It is very famous in Nepalese cuisine — a sweet rice bread, distinct from any other breads of the world. Sel roti resembles a large, thin, puffed-up doughnut, with a crispy texture and a reddish brown colour. As well as being a street food, you will also see this bread in religious ceremonies.

The rice takes some time to soak, but you can do this overnight, while you sleep. I have had this bread in the morning, and with the ripe banana it was delicious. Make sure you have a chopstick on hand during the frying process, to help shape the roti.

Preparation 6 hours + 12 hours soaking + 1 hour resting
Cooking 3–5 minutes per roti

Ingredients

  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz/3 cups) long-grain white rice
  • 1 very ripe banana, peeled and mashed
  • 220 g ( oz/1 cup) sugar, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 185 g ( oz) butter or ghee, melted
  • 80 g ( oz/½ cup) rice flour, as needed
  • 1–1.25 litres (35–44 fl oz/4–5 cups) vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Method

Soak the rice in plenty of water in the fridge overnight.

Next day, drain the rice and place in a blender or food processor. Add the banana, sugar, cardamom and butter and blend to a semi-thick purée, by adding 250–375 ml (9–13 fl oz/1–1½ cups) water; depending on the size of your machine, you may need to do this in two batches.

Cover and set aside to rest at room temperature for 20–30 minutes.

Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl and beat vigorously to make a smooth, fluffy, semi-thick batter. Cover and rest for another 30 minutes.

Mix the batter again with your hand, until all the ingredients are fully recombined. The consistency should be similar to a thick but pourable cream. If the batter is too runny, add an extra 1–2 tablespoons of rice flour and mix well. If it seems too thick, gradually stir in 1–2 tablespoons water, mixing well.

Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy-based saucepan and heat over medium–high heat to about 170–180°C (325–350°F). Test the readiness by placing a small drop of batter into the hot oil. If it bubbles and rises to the surface immediately, the oil is ready.

Slowly pour about 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) of the batter into the oil, making a large circle. You can pour it in by hand, or using a squeezable paper or plastic cup, or a pastry bag with a medium-size opening.

Stretch and move the batter, using chopsticks to create a round shape. As the roti puffs and rises, use your chopstick to gently spin it from the centre, so it looks like a bagel or large doughnut, pushing it down into the oil until it is light golden brown. Flip and fry the second side until brown.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Repeat with the remaining batter. Drain on paper towel.

Sprinkle the roti with some sugar mixed with ground cinnamon and serve warm, with a cup of chai.