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Sri Lankan Pol Roti with onion and herbs

These easy Sri Lankan Pol Roti with onion and herbs are tasty unleavened flatbreads that are flavored with shredded coconut, onion and a mix of herbs. They are sure to be a favorite when served with curry.

Sri lankan pol roti with onion and herbs

When it comes to breads of all kinds, my absolute favorite is Sri Lankan pol roti. As “pol” in Sinhale (the language spoken by the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka) means “coconut”, “pol roti” translates to “coconut roti.”

What is roti?

Roti is basically an unleavened flat bread made with shredded coconut, flour, water, and salt. Sometimes, coconut milk is added in along with other spices, onion, and green chillies.

I’m not much of a bread person, but I could do some serious damage to a stack of pol roti! Usually we eat pol roti with curry – but I’m not gonna lie, I can eat it plain!

My mom’s pol roti is the best roti I’ve ever had. My mom sometimes uses a bit of coconut milk along with water to make her roti super soft. She also uses desiccated coconut which she gets from a south Asian store in Atlanta, called Cherians

But I live out here in Athens and don’t go to Cherians often. So I use unsweetened shredded coconut, which can easily be found at local grocery stores. 

overhead photo of 7 ingredients to make pol roti with onion and herbs.

Tips to make soft Sri Lankan Pol Roti:

When making roti, my mom always mixes the dough and lets it rest for an hour or so. She says this, along with her use of coconut milk helps keep her roti soft and tasty.

However I’m usually in a hurry. So, after I mix up the dough for roti, I form it into balls and let the balls sit for about 15 minutes (sometimes less) while I get a quick curry started. I have found that when I cover the roti after I flip them over, they turn out softer than if I don’t.

My daughter and I have enjoyed this pol roti (coconut roti) I make with everything from curry to a chutney to jam even!

mixing pol roti dough with hands

This pol roti recipe is so easy that there have been many days I’ve come home from work to find my daughter making us a batch of roti to go with leftover curry, like this chicken one. This is one recipe from my blog she uses so often that she has it memorized.

Speaking of my daughter, I’ve got to take a moment to brag on her. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been nursing a craving for some chocolate cake. But I was in a bit of a baking slump and every recipe I attempted, tasted like mud! Well, Friday I got home from work to find she had baked and frosted a chocolate cake using this vegan chocolate cupcake recipe. I was speechless! This child of mine! I am blessed beyond measure!

pol roti also known as sri lankan coconut roti dough, resting before rolling out and cooking on a hot pan.

Now getting back to pol roti…

Usually, either my daughter or I, make a plain and easy pol roti.

But every now and then, we like to jazz things up a bit and add in chopped onion and herbs to the roti dough ~ like we did here in this Sri Lankan Pol Roti with onion and herbs.

rolling out balls of pol roti with onion and herbs before cooking them on a hot stove.

The onion and mix of parsley and cilantro add such a depth of flavor to these. If you don’t like onion, then you don’t have to use it, just add in your favorite herb mix and maybe some garlic. Cooking is always about letting your tastebuds have a fun feast, so experiment with different flavors that tickle your fancy.

These pol roti with onion and herbs are delicious just by themselves. Or you can enjoy them with some of this tasty and Easy Jackfruit Curry and this Potato and Moringa Salad, like we did.

plate with easy jackfruit curry and onion coconut roti
Sri lankan pol roti with onion and herbs

Sri Lankan Pol Roti with onion and herbs

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

These Sri Lankan Pol Roti with onion and herbs are unleavened flatbreads that are flavored with shredded coconut, onion and a mix of herbs. They are sure to be a favorite when served with curry.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons more, water
  • 1/2 red onion chopped (about 3 tbsp approx)
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • oil for greasing pan

Instructions

  1. Peel and chop the onion and chop the parsley and cilatro.
  2. Add flour, shredded unsweetened coconut, salt, onion, parsley, cilantro, and 1/2 cup water to a bowl and mix well using your hands or a spoon. If mixture is dry, add in the other 3 tablespoons of water and knead slightly into a ball.
  3. Separate ball into five smaller ones and set aside to rest for about 15 minutes.
  4. Then, place a frying pan over a medium flame and grease with oil. Grease your hands with oil as well and stretch the balls out a bit and roll them out (using a rolling pin or your hands) so they are about the size of a saucer. 
  5. Place roti in warm pan and let cook about 4-5 minutes over a low/medium flame.
  6. Flip them over making sure they have golden brown spots on them. Cover pan and let cook another 3 minutes or so. Repeat with all the roti.
  7. Enjoy with any curry of your choice or soup or jam!

Notes

* If you would like to make your roti soft, add in 1/4 cup of coconut milk + 1/4 cup water and 3 tbsp more water.

**I have also noticed that after I cook the roti on one side and flip them over to cook on the other - if I cover the pan they are cooking in after they have been flipped, they turn out softer as well.

Nutrition Information
Yield 5 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 167Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 237mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 4gSugar 1gProtein 4g

Did you make this recipe?

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John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Love flat breads of every kind. I've had plenty of roti in my life, and this looks like one of the best. Love all the flavors you've crammed into each and every one! Good stuff -- thanks.

Dawn - Girl Heart Food

Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

I've never made roti, but have been so tempted to try and this recipe looks like a great (and delicious) place to start. Love all the add-ins, especially coconut. Can't wait to try, Shashi! XO

David @ Spiced

Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

I've never made pol roti before, but I do love making all sorts of homemade breads. I'll have to try this one out sometime. Plus, I love the color from the red onions and fresh herbs. I'm pretty sure I could do some serious damage to a stack of these roti, too! :-)

Adrianne

Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

These roti looks so authentic!! I love how detailed the photos are and I wish I was having this for dinner. Can't wait to give this a go, cheers!

Valerie

Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

This seems nice and easy to make. It sounds like it has a great flavor and looks like it has a great texture too.