Koki or Unleavened Wheat Bread with Onions, Cumin, and Green Chillies

Koki - Unleavened Wheat Bread with Onions, Green Chillies and Cumin is a classic Sindhi breakfast item
Koki – Unleavened Wheat Bread with Onions, Green Chillies and Cumin

Sindhis have been a major presence in my life. One of my next door neighbors for over three decades is a large Sindhi joint family, I live next to an apartment complex dominated by Sindhis, I studied engineering in a college run by Sindhis, one of my closest friends from college days is a Sindhi, the second job I held with a Sindhi family-run IT training firm… 🙂

This community is originally from Sindh, a part of the pre-partition India, now a province in Pakistan. When the British partitioned India in 1947, many Sindhi Hindus migrated to India and resettled here. Concentrated largely in the West and North of India, this doughty community is known for its hardwork, resilience in the face of adversity, business sense and innovation.

Read more about Sindhis at Sindhi Shaan.

Ulhasnagar near Mumbai and Mumbai itself perhaps has the highest concentration of Sindhis in India. As a result, there is very subtle yet pervasive Sindhi influence in many spheres on life in the Greater Mumbai region with the Sindhis being major contributors to Mumbai’s social and economic fabric.

  • The Hinduja and SL Raheja (now a part of the Fortis group) hospitals are the gift of this community to Mumbai.
  • The Hyderabad Sind National Collegiate Board runs some of Mumbai’s premier educational institutions for Engineering, Law, Pharmacy, Commerce, Science, Management, and Teacher’s Training. (Yours truly is an alumni of their Engineering College).
  • Some of the leading construction companies shaping Mumbai’s landscape are Sindhis; Raheja and Hiranandani to name two.
  • Several leading lights of the Bollywood industry are Sindhis; the Sippys, Asrani, Sadhana, Raveena Tandon, Rajkumar Hirani, and Govind Nihalani to name a few.

I could go on and on, but returning to the subject of Sindhi cuisine… My first introduction to Sindhi cuisine was in terms of the goodies served at birthday parties in my neighbour’s home. Later, eateries like Jhama Sweets, Tharu, and Kailash Parbat helped me develop a taste for a variety of Sindhi food.

However, I got a full taste of Sindhi cuisine at BiKo’s home. BK is my classmate from Engineering college days and we stayed over at her place quite a few times. BiKo’s mom was a fantastic cook and served us delicacies like Koki and Dal Pakhwan for breakfast, and an assortment of Sindhi dals, veggies, and stuffed parathas for lunch and dinner. A visit to BiKo’s place was always a gastronomic delight.

I must confess though that the first time I stayed over and Aunty served us Dal Pakhwan for breakfast, the South Indian in me was aghast at eating deep-fried stuff early in the morning. Now, I have no such reservations! 🙂

My tryst with Sindhi food continued when I worked with a Sindhi family run IT training firm. The Patriach and the Matriach of the family that ran the institute took care of us employees as though we were family. Many of used to get in quite early to work (by 7 AM) and were plied with piping hot breakfast from their home. Bread upma, Koki, Aloo Parathas, Lolo were de rigeur. On many a day, we were also plied with lunch. Sindhi Kadi, Bhee ki Sabji, Sai Bhaji, Satpuro Phulko, Puri, Aloo ki Sabzi….. They had a cook, Suraj, who took requests from us.

Suraj had only one complaint against us… that we requested tea with “less milk and sugar”. He used to make Doodh Patti Chai; tea with only milk, almost no water and laden with sugar. Many of us found it too heavy on the palate and once showed Suraj how we prefer strong tea with more water, less milk, and less sugar. He was horrified. All he said was “Is mein to na doodh hai na cheeni!!! (this has neither milk nor sugar)” 🙂 But the kind-hearted soul that he was, he set aside his reservations and served us tea the way we wanted it, always accompanied by a soulful glance or two. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Anyway to cut a long story short, I love Sindhi food and among the favourites is Koki, a kind of thick roti flavoured with onions, green chillies, and fresh coriander. All you need is fresh chilled dahi or raita as an accompaniment! In the pic, you will see the koki served with boondi raita.

Ingredients

  1. Wheat Flour – 2.5 Cups
  2. Onion – 2 Medium
  3. Green Chillies – 4 (more if you like spicy food)
  4. Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  5. Fresh Coriander Leaves – A handful
  6. Oil – ~5 tbsp
  7. Salt to Taste
  8. Water

Method

  1. Peel and chop the onion to fine pieces.
  2. chop the green chillies to fine pieces.
  3. Wash and chop the coriander into fine pieces.
  4. Roast the cumin till it just starts to turn brown.
  5. Mix the wheat flour, onion, salt,  green chillies, roasted cumin and chopped coriander.
  6. Gradually add water and knead into a firm dough.
  7. Add 2 tbsp oil and mix well.
  8. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
  9. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts.
  10. Using a floured surface, roll each part into a thick circle about 4″ in diameter.
  11. Oil a griddle and heat it.
  12. Place a koki on the hot griddle.
  13. Cook over medium heat.
  14. Drizzle a few drops of oil along the edges, if required.
  15. Check the side of the koki which has been on the griddle to see it is cooked. It should be brown all over with a few dark brown spots.
  16. Drizzle a few drops of oil on the face-up side of the koki and spread with a spatula.
  17. Flip the koki.
  18. Drizzle a few drops of oil along the edges, if required.
  19. When the koki is cooked, serve hot with dahi or raita.

Tips

  • Do not roll the Koki too thin. It should be slightly thinner than stuffed paratha, say about 1/8″ or so.
  • You can store Kokis for a couple of days in an air-tight container.