What exactly is roti and how do you pronounce it?

What’s roti, what’s kottu roti, and how do you pronounce both?

I can help you on the first, but not the second, provided you are in fact talking about food from India.

Roti, pronounced with a short o and a short i, is also known as a chappati. Its an Indian flatbread, made from semi-refined wheat flour, a pinch of salt, and water to make a dough. Balls of dough are rolled out to the required thickness and size, and the roti is cooked over a hot flat pan called a tavi or tawa. There’s no yeast involved.

And kottu roti is roti bread chopped up into the thickness of egg noodles, grilled with sauce, vegetables, and depending on where you are and the customs of the restaurant, meat and /or eggs. It’s very good and one of the only things I miss about having lived in Sri Lanka.

Short o *and *short i? Okay, the short o I’m okay with, but a short i at the end? I can’t get my mind around that. I’m thinking “rot-tee;” am I anywhere close?

Kind of. But with not a lot of emphasis on the tee part; the tee part of that should be reasonably short.

You’re getting confused because “short” and “long” are used by different people to mean different things. The reference here is to the short vowels of Hindi, in contrast with the long vowels of Hindi. If you are a native English speaker and know no Hindi, the “short” isn’t going to help you pronounce it.

The closest an English-only speaker can get to pronouncing roti is “row tee,” which is not very close.

It will be much easier for English-only speakers to pronounce it the Bengali (as opposed to the Hindi) way, which is like “roo tee” (and you can spell it ruti)

Roti basically means any kind of wheat bread. Usually, it’s a reference to Indian-style flat bread, which comes in many types: chapati (the most common), nan/naan, parata/paratha/parantha, luchi/puri, etc. Because chapati is the most common type, often “roti” is used to refer to them. Western-style loaf bread is called “pau ruti.”

Roti is also a very common dish in the West Indies (especially Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica). The bread is very similar to the indian style flatbread (hence the name), but it is either dipped in or filled with a meat curry. My favorite is goat roti, filled with curried goat and potatos mmmmm!

There is also a variation of roti in Thailand, where the roti bread is covered in condensed milk and rolled up. It’s more of a snack or dessert.

By the way, the closest Western equivalent to a chapati is a whole-wheat tortilla.

I’ve always heard western-style loaves of bread simply referred to as pau. Roti has always had a specific meaning, and that’s chappati. Naan is naan, and paratha are paratha. Of course you can have different types of roti, such as millet roti, but I’ve never heard roti to mean anything other than chappati. Of course, usages across India will vary.

Well, then, perhaps my perspective is the Bengali one. In Bengali, all wheat breads are correctly called “ruti.”

Is West Indian roti pronounced differently?

Northwest (Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi) or southwest (Kannada, etc.) ?

I thought he was asking about West Indian in the sense of the West Indies, not western India.

Not to mention Suriname. Not surprising, considering the high percentage of Hindus living in Suriname.

Nope (at least not in Suriname).


I didn’t know that the o in the French word roti had a circomflex (or however it’s spelled).

In any event, here’s it’s definition.
For rôti:
Principal Translations:
rôti adj roasted
rôti (viande - crue, cuite) nm joint

Additional Translations:
rôti (cuit au grill) adj toasty

Compound Forms
rôti cuit dans une cocotte pot roast
rôti de bœuf nm roast beef

In English, circumflex.

In French, circonflexe.

Thank you.