It is the staple diet of millions and a skill passed on through generations. But is the fresh homemade chapatti quickly becoming a thing of the past? And what happens if you get married and your in-laws realise you can’t make a chapati?

The chapatti or rotee is eaten with almost every meal but with the growth of fast food and convenience of rotee shops, this dying art may well be becoming a thing of the past.

Women have spoken of their battle trying to perfect this skill and men have told us why they still have this need for fresh homemade rotee.

Tahera got married when she was 21 and said she was hesitant in telling her new husband that she couldn’t make rotee. “I can’t cook rotee. I tried so many times but they always came out wrong so I gave up. My mum couldn’t cook them either as her mother never taught her.

“When I got married at first we had to hide this ‘affliction’ from his parents. There was honestly a lot of shame. I think his parents forgave me eventually but it is still an unspoken thing between us.

“I blame my mother as it should have been her duty to teach me to make rotee.

“With the number of rotee shops around it is not a big deal now. We get by and I make up for the lack of rotee skills by making other food.

“My husband doesn’t mind so much.”

Parveen is 32 and said her not being able to make rotee nearly led to her marriage breaking down.

She told us, “Everything was going fine until the day I came to live at his house and his mum says ‘now make the rotee.’

“My body stared shaking and I didn’t know what to do. I rang my husband and told him the truth and then he rang his mum. The whole week they were talking behind my back and saying things like…’I wonder what else they didn’t tell us.’

“My mother-in-law took full advantage of it and cooked the rotee on purpose for her son to prove a point.

“It was only when we moved out that things got a bit better. It was the shame of not being able to do this simple thing, cook a rotee.

“His sisters were just as bad and would send over fresh rotees when we moved in. It was like they wanted to take care of their precious brother who had married a women who couldn’t cook a rotee and felt sorry for him.”

Zara, 23 told us not being able to make a rotee is a big thing for her generation.
“You would think that people would not care if you couldn’t cook. Especially our generation.

“My husband has to hide that I am a bad cook from his family. I have tried to learn to cook the rotee but it always comes out wrong and then I am embarrassed to serve it to anyone.

“My husband is also embarrassed going to the rotee shop in case his mates see him. It is so bad.”

Imtiaz is 52 and believes it is important for mum's to ‘teach’ their daughters how to cook rotee.

He said, “I know people reading this might think I am backward but it is a the duty of mum's to teach their daughter’s how to cook rotee. I have friends who don’t even have fresh rotee at home. It is shocking to me.

"The worse thing I see is queues of men at rotee shops. What happened to our community? It is the downfall of a culture and skills that should be passed on from one generation to another.

“Women got lazy and decided to live their lives on takeaway food and rotee shops.
“If you can’t make a simple rotee then what is the point of it all. I know I am being harsh. But fresh rotee is all you have got after a few years!."

But what happens when your husband decides to eat rotee secretly elsewhere. Rozina said she was mortified when this happened. “I realise I do not make the best rotees. I have tried and tried and even use a rotee machine but it isn’t the same.

“My husband was just being polite at first but then I found out he was eating from his friend’s house because she make better rotees.

“It was like he was cheating on me. He tried to joke his way out of it but we had a full blown argument over it. It was horrible.

“He told me he had been doing this for a while and didn’t think it was a big deal but it was. It is a very personal thing isn't it?.”

Seema said, “Once I brought rotees home from my friend and my husband kept on praising them saying how soft they were. I never brought anything home from my friend again.”

Alia revealed she had been taught how to make rotee by her mum, but when she got married and moved in with her in-laws, she pretended that she did not know the skill at all.

"I realised from day one that my in-laws expected me to cook. So I purposely burnt the salan and told them I can't make rotee. 

"Very soon they stopped expecting that from me.

"I have no problem cooking for my husband when we move out, but there's no way I will cook for my in-laws so they can treat me like a servant."

We did find one man who was better at making rotee than his wife. Forty-five year-old, Amjad told us, “Why do we insist on women being the ones who should cook the rotee?

“My mum taught me how to cook a rotee and now I can make one and my wife can’t. People are still taken aback by it. It is like I am committing a crime!

“The first few times we hosted a dawat (dinner) and we invited friends we pretended she cooked the rotees. It was funny at the time but now everyone knows. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

“Men should learn themselves how to make a rotee and they will know it is not as easy as it looks. It is like riding a bike once you know- once you know, you know.

“I do think in our culture, like many others, the kitchen at home is very much a woman’s place. But when we go out it is the man who is the chef. I bet that same guy will go home though and expect his wife to make him rotee.”

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