As you may or may not know carbohydrates are the main part of Desi meals. These staple carbohydrates usually take the form of rice or one of the multitudinous Desi flatbreads like rotis, chapattis, parathas, or naan. In general Desis fall into to two categories: rice eaters or roti eaters. Yes, there are regional as well as family preferences for taking meals with rice as their base or some sort of flatbread. Then you'll even see some families that take lunch with rice but dinner with rotis. Or any other combination or rice and flatbreads you can possibly think of. This can make planning a dinner party for Desi guests difficult.
The rice eating Desis like Kashmiris and Bengalis require soupier dishes. The soupy consistency is preferred because they squish the rice up with the sauce or broth to eat. This is not to say they forsake flatbreads entirely. Kashmiris eat a yeast risen tandoori cooked roti begotten at the local tandoori bakery for breakfast and with their afternoon tea. (Yes, they have tandoori bakeries in Kashmir, I will take pictures the next time I am there.) So if you are planning a meal for Bengali or Kashmiri guests you's better plan on serving rice and a few soupy or "rasedaar" (means juicy) dishes. If you are serving Kashmiris there better be some mutton or lamb on the table too or they'll be insulted.
Many roti eating Desis are from northern India. Punjabis and Biharis are largely roti eaters. They make take rice also but they probably eat rotis with at least one or two meals daily. Punjabis and Biharis generally eat one of the flatbreads like chapattis, parathas, or rotis that are quick to make at home. Naan is made in a tandoori oven and is generally only eaten at a restaurant or take out. Roti eaters require thick gravies. No soupy sauces or broths for them. They wad up the rotis and scoop up the thick gravy with it. So if you are serving guests from Punjab or Bihar you'd better plan on serving rotis and dishes with thick gravies.
As you can tell by the above photo Bibi's rotis are perfectly round and beautifully blistered with toasted speckles of loveliness. I'll have you know those perfectly round rotis are the mark of a Desi housewife "par exellence." What's Bibi's secret? These:
Yes, fresh from the freezer section at our local superstore Bibi buys her rotis prepared. After cooking 2 appetizers, 3-4 entrees, rice, 3 chutneys, and dessert for a dinner party I'll be darned if I'm going to roll out 30 rotis just as the guests are seated. Just heat up a dry nonstick pan for 5 minutes, pull these babies out of the freezer, lightly toast them on each side for 2 minutes- "et voila!" Bibi's the perfect hostess! Think that's cheating? Well, if you look closely this pack of prepared rotis is labelled for "restaurant use." That's right, the pros use these too. And you know what, they are delicious!
This post on rice and rotis was brought about by some houseguests we had when we were first married. I noticed the rice was coming back untouched and the soupy Kashmiri dishes were left intact also. I asked my husband if our guests didn't like the food. My husband said, "Yes, they like the food but they eat rotis with dinner." Why did dear husband not tell me our guests were roti eaters? I will never know. I have since learned the hard way to never ask husband specifically what dishes to serve for a meal. I now only ask where the guests are from, do they like rice, rotis, or both, and are they "veg" or "non veg."
Keep calm & curry on.