A Tortilla Press is a quick and efficient way to make rotis, puris, chapatis or tortillas.
We were recently asked about these kitchen aids in one of our Indian cooking classes, so we purchased a couple to see if they were any good.
This post lays out the results of our experiment.
Why use a one? Well, using a roller pin can start to be stressful on the wrist joints – especially if you have to make loads for some hungry kids!
We give our favourite three before digging in further. Despite the name, tortilla presses can be used to make chapati and other Indian breads as well.
While the three above are our favourites, we explore and give our opinion on five that are available to create that perfect roti, chapati or any other flatbread of your choice!
Our favourite one is produced by Victoria, which has a very traditional cast iron look and comes with good reviews from other users.
Very much like when we preferred stainless steel spice boxes, other materials are available but they tend to be lighter and not as durable.
You can make Indian flat breads in three ways:
- Using a traditional datta press
- Using a pin roller to roll out the dough
- Using a modern press to squash the dough balls into flat bread
The first one takes some skill, so we’ll just leave that one as we’ll assume you’re not an old grandmother from a remote village in India!
How to make Chapatis the traditional way
With a roti press, all you do is make the dough as normal and then roll it into balls as normal.
You then use a traditional pin roller to roll out the ball of dough into thin flat bread, using a rolling motion with your wrists to get the desired shape and thickness.
You then use a traditional pin roller to roll out the dough balls into thin flat bread, using a rolling motion with your wrists to get the desired shape and thickness.
Standard pin rollers can be purchased through your local grocery or supermarket.
Once rolled out and thinned, you toss it straight onto a heated skillet and use a kitchen utensil to toss over the chapati every few seconds. Alternatively, if you’re making puris, you can shallow fry them.
How to make Chapatis using a Press
Instead of using a roller pin to flatten the dough ball, you use a press (pictured below).
The better ones are made out of cast iron, in our opinion.
Firstly, you use the weight of the device to flatten the dough ball into perfectly symmetrical rotis or chapatis. The flatbread is then ready to be placed on a pre-heated griddle. Easy-peasy!
These ones are also a good substitute for a puri press. You can hammer out loads of puris in no time, so keep that oil hot!
While the items listed in the table earlier are our favourite three, we discuss a further two in total below which can act as an alternative if your budget allows.
1. Cast Iron by Victoria
The reason this wasn't originally in our top three was because of the price. Coming in at just under £25, we felt this is too expensive for a simple device.
However, after feedback and comments from users, we feel that it definitely is worth the money! We do know it's popular in the USA and it does have a 'Made in Colombia' engraving which gives it authenticity.
It does look good and has a heavy feel to it. The size is also decent at 8 inches, meaning it'll do reasonably sized chapatis too.
- Heavy, solid build at 3.04kg
- Authentic item - originally made in Colombia
- Comes pre-seasoned - ready to use.
WARNING: Some have complained that the hinge is quite loose and doesn't tighten as much as it should. Others have complained that it is too heavy to use, but what do you expect for an item that weighs in at 3.04kg!
2. Cast Aluminum by Norpro
Measuring 6 inches wide, this is small to medium version. If you are wanting to create larger size flatbread, then it's better to purchase the Mexican by Bayless.
We would recommend this for people who are beginners when it comes to making flatbread as it's very light and easy to use. This benefit can also act against the item if you apply too much pressure.
- Made of aluminium surface
- At 579 grams, it's quite light
- Comes with clear instructions
WARNING: Despite this being well-priced and lightweight, it is a bit on the small side, so be warned. Also, some have complained that bits of the aluminium coating comes off after initial use, so it's best to check if it's a defective item before using it.
3. IMUSA MEXI-86008
This is a smaller one at 8 inches in diameter. It has an evenly distributed feel to it and has a fairly heavy solid plate for pressing into shape, considering that it's made out of cast aluminium. The item measures measures 20cm x 25cm (8” x 10”)
This one is the lighter of the three presses we've talked about and it is for this reason, it sits in our top three.
- Quite sturdy and well built, measuring 800 grams
- Not dishwasher safe. Hand wash only
- Comes with a recipe guide
WARNING: Some have complained that the base bends if you apply too much force, but you have to remember that this is a lighter item. If you do use a lot of force, it's better to go for a heavier cast iron version.
4. The Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless
This cast iron press is a pre-seasoned, medium size (at just under 8 inches) and comes in a traditional cast iron black colour. They are, in effect, non-stick coated plates.
This one was our favourite but it tends to be out of stock a lot of the times. As long as you follow the instructions which tell you to rotate the handle as you push down, you should get a decent sized roti or puri.
- It comes pre-seasoned meaning it's ready to use.
- It is dishwasher safe
- 2.72 Kg - means it's a little bit heavy, but this isn't a bad thing
WARNING: This one uses a screw and nut pin, which is easy to assemble in our opinion, but there have been some complaints saying it falls out. Some also say that you need to apply extra pressure, but we believe the rotating action takes a little getting used to.
5. Aluminium Press by Charcoal Companion
OK, this isn't the best one available on the market, but it is one of the cheapest ones.
So if you're not really wanting to make a massive go of it, then this is a good option to uses once in a while. Priced at less than £10, it could also make a nice gift for someone interested in making tortillas or Indian flat breads.
It is also a bit on the small side, measuring 6 inches in diameter.
- Cheapest tortilla press maker available
- Aluminium coating
- Reasonably light at 626 grams
WARNING: It is shiny, but does feel cheap and... it is cheap! Be careful not to put too much pressure on the handle as it risks bending the base.
Important Features of a Roti Press
A lot of the complaints tend to arise due to sizing issues.
It’s imperative that your order the right size.
For example, the two on the left are at 8 inches and 6.5 inches respectively.
Whilst the one at 8 inches is fine for larger chapatis, rotis, tortillas and parathas, the one on the right at 6.5 inches is more suitable for puris and samosa pastry.
Very much like when we were discussing tiffin lunch boxes, an important feature is the handle. If you are someone who has a heavy and strong grip, then go for a cast iron type. If you’ve got a softer touch and want a lighter item, then opt for an aluminium built one.
Which is better – cast iron or aluminium?
We’ve just touched on it in the last paragraph, but for us, we much prefer the cast iron. It’s built better, will last a long time and looks the part!
Whichever one you choose, let us know by leaving comments or feedback below.