Is It Safe To Cook Roti On Direct Flame? Experts Bust The Myth

What's the best way to cook roti? Enjoying the perfect roti can be both delicious and safe for the entire family. Know how.

Is It Safe To Cook Roti On Direct Flame? Experts Bust The Myth

Roti is a staple of Indian diet.

Roti, or Chapati, holds a special place on the Indian dining table, accompanying various meals throughout the day. Roti with sabzi or dal or any other curry is a comfort meal for us. The traditional method of cooking roti involves half-cooking on a tawa (griddle) and finishing off on the direct flame using tongs. However, concerns have been raised regarding the safety of this cooking technique, particularly regarding the potential formation of carcinogenic compounds. Many social media posts have been warning against cooking roti on direct flame. Even some studies, in the past, claimed to find air pollutants like carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide released from burning stoves.

Does this mean we should avoid cooking roti directly on the flame? Let's delve deeper into the matter.

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The process of cooking roti on a direct flame involves subjecting it to high temperatures, potentially leading to the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), known carcinogens. Pyrolysis, a chemical reaction occurring at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, is responsible for the breakdown of organic compounds in the roti, potentially producing harmful molecules - explains The Wellness Corner.

Most Indians cook roti directly on flame.

Most Indians cook roti directly on the flame.
Photo Credit: iStock

So, is it safe or not safe to cook roti directly on a gas flame?

While pyrolysis may occur during the direct flame cooking process, there is no strong scientific evidence that suggests it may lead to severe health problems. That's because the levels of carcinogenic compounds produced are low and unlikely to pose significant health risks, especially considering roti is consumed in small portions as part of a larger meal.

In a post on the Instagram page 'healthhatch', an expert explains LPG produces carbon dioxide and water, and very few carcinogens like benzene. In a well-ventilated kitchen, cooking roti on a stove not blocked with soot is not harmful. Even if your stove has soot, the amount of benzene deposited in your chapatti will be very tiny.

Nutritionist Pallavi Pinge in a report on Ambrosia Wellness explains that the cooking time for roti on a direct flame is relatively short, typically a matter of seconds, minimizing the generation of PAHs and HCAs. Research indicates that significant levels of these carcinogens are produced during cooking times of 15 minutes or more.

Also Read5 Ways To Make Roti Even More Nutritious

Nevertheless, Consultant Nutritionist with NDTV Food Rupali Datta advises caution. "Cooking over direct flame may produce harmful products like heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are linked to cancer. Although the quantity of harmful products generated may be small, cooking roti on slow heat over a tawa is deemed safer. Cooking on a tawa offers several advantages:

  • A tawa ensures uniform heat distribution, resulting in evenly cooked roti.
  • Cooking on a tawa preserves nutrients like fibre, protein, and carbohydrates, as the roti is not exposed to excessively high temperatures.
  • Cooking roti on a tawa reduces direct exposure to flames and high heat, minimizing the formation of harmful compounds. Direct flame cooking may lead to uneven cooking and the accumulation of particles from the gas hob, potentially posing health risks.
Cooking roti on tawa is another healthy option.

Cooking roti on tawa is another healthy option.
Photo Credit: iStock

What's the best way to cook roti?

While cooking roti on a direct stove flame may not be conclusively harmful, opting for the traditional tawa method is better for its safety and nutrient retention benefits. If you still choose to cook your chapatti directly on the stove flame, no problem! Just ensure proper ventilation in your kitchen and keep your gas burner clean.