Hands-on review: Rotimatic flatbread maker
This internet-connected solution to producing bread is fun to use as well as fast.
Rotimatic is billed as the world’s first flatbread-making robot and this is no lie. Just don’t expect to step out of your sci-fi flying car and be greeted by your cheery robotic baker. A more down-to-earth description would be that Rotimatic is a breadmaker for flatbreads.
Which is not to say that it’s unimpressive. Rotimatic really is packed with tech: 10 motors, 15 sensors, 300 moving parts and a Wi-Fi connection team up to make you your daily bread. Making roti is quicker but a much more complex process than baking a loaf. You can’t just knead it and then bake it in the same container.
Rotimatic instead pulls in ingredients from three receptacles on the top – flour, water and oil – kneads them, rolls out the flatbread and then cooks it. And, incredibly, once the machine is up to temperature, it can churn one out every 90 seconds.
Rotimatic is big and heavy. The box it arrives in is a two-person lift ideally; it’s a bit of a struggle for one. The machine itself, unpacked, weighs 20kg and takes up a lot of worktop space. It seems huge but, with a footprint of 40 x 40cm, it only takes up 50 per cent more worktop space than our Cuisinart breadmaker. But it feels big.
It’s definitely too big and heavy to whip in and out of a cupboard on demand. It’s something you’d keep on the worktop at all times because your family eats a lot of flatbreads. So don’t buy it unless you can spare the worktop space above a single kitchen unit.
Unboxing is a good experience, as you’d hope for with a premium appliance. It’s attractively and efficiently packaged and comes with everything you need bar the ingredients. So as well as the machine and all its containers, there are cleaning brushes, a quick start guide and a more detailed instruction manual.
To set Rotimatic up properly, pair it with its (iOS or Android) companion app and use that to connect it to your Wi-Fi. Yep, it’s on the Internet of Things (IoT). This lets the machine automatically download new firmware and allows for remote diagnostics.
The app offers a decent instruction manual too, if you prefer screen to paper. Ultimately the app will also feature Rotimatic recipes. But it would be good if the machine and app made more use of the connectivity. For example, an Amazon Dash-style button that lets you instantly order more flour when you’re running low.
Rotimatic has a few recommended flour types from Aarshirvaad and Sujata/Pillsbury but you can use other brands. The flour goes into the large container on top, which they recommend you don’t wash when new because it’s clean and it needs to be bone dry. The other containers are for vegetable oil and water. That’s all you need to make roti.
The workings are in two sections. Ingredients are mixed and kneaded on the right, then rolled out and baked on the left. And it’s quite a spectacle… Turn Rotimatic on, tell it what type of flour you’re using and set a few preferences (roti thickness, how cooked you like them, how much oil) and it starts up. The machine takes 6 minutes to come up to temperature. After that, select the number of rotis, press ‘play’ and they’re spectacularly churned out every 90 seconds.
It is great to watch. See the dough whizz around through the square window in an homage to Blue Peter, then a robotic arm kicks it into the middle of the machine where it is rolled flat, then the disc of dough is pushed forward and cooked. The machine even multitasks: preparing the next batch of dough while the bread bakes.
Each bread is pushed out onto the open door at the front, like pages from a printer. If you’re making several, be poised to pick them up, otherwise they will back up and maybe even burn. They’re piping hot, so tongs are recommended, but ours were simply eaten in seconds. They’re delicious, incredibly fresh and very moreish. The instructions suggested the first 10 breads might be sub-par while the machine’s AI adjusts to the precise ingredients but that was not the case. However, we did fine-tune the settings to get our perfect bread: thin, fairly well cooked and light on oil were our favourites.
Rotimatic sent some other recipes that require you to add dried ingredients – such as ground spices, spinach powder and onion powder – to the flour container. These were tasty, and sometimes colourful, but not hugely more flavoursome than the plain rotis so we’d be tempted to stick with just flour most of the time and save the spices for the curries. But a growing library of recipes would be good.
The display is excellent at guiding you through cooking, cleaning and even errors. We had a couple of problems with the flour feed tube getting blocked but the display used words and even a diagram to tell us how to fix the problem quickly and simply: much better than having to look up an error code in an instruction manual or refer to the app. The screen even alerted us when we completely forgot to put the kneading container in after washing it – this would have been a messy mistake.
After use, you must leave the machine plugged in so its cooling fans work. This can take 25 minutes. You can leave Rotimatic loaded with ingredients. The oil and water can sit in their containers and get topped up when necessary. It’s recommended that the flour container goes in the fridge if it won’t be used within 4 days.
But the lower half does require cleaning. The kneading container needs to be removed daily and its two parts washed (by hand or dishwasher). The kneading tray under it and the inside of the oven both need cleaning after use too. The Rotimatic comes with two 'magic' cleaning brushes, a long 'magic stick' for cleaning inside the oven part, and three foam cylinders that look like Nerf Gun bullets for cleaning the oil and water feed tubes.
£760 is a lot of money for any kitchen electrical, let alone a machine that only does one thing. But if you’re a family that eats flatbreads like rotis and puris daily then it’s superb. Even the simplest roti recipe takes half an hour to prepare and cook so it’s a huge timesaver. Or ultimately a money-saver if you get through vast quantities of shop-bought rotis.
The company is currently beta testing a Rotimatic pizza base recipe. Next in line are millet flour, tortilla, gluten free, and chickpea flour. These can be added to machines automatically thanks to the Wi-Fi connection and will serve to broaden its appeal. Remote activation is in the pipeline too. But for now it’s a specialist machine that uses impressive tech to do a single job very well. If you eat a lot of rotis and can spare the worktop space (and the money) go buy.
Prestige Electric Roti Maker
Available as an import from India, this presses and cooks one roti at a time between two non-stick plates but you’ll have to make the dough yourself.
Around £75 amazon.co.uk
This innovative rolling pin design has measuring rings at both ends for rolling consistent thicknesses of flatbreads, pastry, biscuits, pasta sheets and more.
MexGrocer Tortilla Press
This simple tortilla press is a good way to shape flatbreads ready for hand-cooking in a pan.
From £15.90 mexgrocer.co.uk