Walking into small thatched huts in the suburbs of Nagpur city, you will often find sari clad women kneading a wet dough of some sort and spreading it out with their bare hands on huge clay pots to make rotis (Indian bread) out of it.
A specialty of the city, Randnya roti or Lambi roti as it is popularly called is a staple of the once underprivileged community of Nagpur, Maharashtra. This commonly found bread, now a delicacy, originated in the villages of Vidarbha which is where this community primarily resided.
This simple roti is basically flat bread made out of wheat flour and cooked on a clay pot that rests on a fire stove. The women of these communities are the ones who prepare these rotis. Making the dough for this bread is a tedious process and requires a lot of elbow grease. The dough is often knead in large aluminum or brass vessels and is then slammed and turned till it is soft and slightly slimy in consistency. Cold water is added at regular intervals to get the gluten to emerge and also to get the dough to the desired consistency. The batter is then spread on the clay pot which is oiled generously to make sure that the bread doesn’t stick to it. The roti is cooked for a few minutes, taken off the pot, folded and kept aside to cool. This intriguing bread is eaten mainly with meat or vegetable curries cooked on a fire stove as well.
These paper thin rotis are sold by the kilo and can be bought directly from the person who makes them. Mostly sold in the small huts they are made in, you can get a good deal for a bulk order.
This roti has been a staple for the people of Nagpur for a long time but because of the tedious making process, is did begin slowly fading. A skill like this requires much time and effort and that’s mainly the reason why most individuals, even within the community are hesitant about learning to make it.
Things are taking a turn for the better now. This roti is slowly regaining its popularity and has now become a hot selling item on the menu for numerous hotels and eateries. With such a rise in popularity in of the Randnya roti, a number of people have started personally ordering this bread from the underprivileged women of the community, hence giving them the opportunity to earn and make a living using their skill.
Apart from filling thousands of stomachs, these breads also help fill the stomachs of the women making them. A simple skill such as this has empowered hundreds of women of the local community and they no longer have to depend on anyone for their living or expenses. Being an entrepreneur in their own right, they don’t have to do odd jobs to earn a living anymore, they simply have to keep their culture alive and work towards it being more recognized and celebrated.