Making Chapatis

I’m a big fan of Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbooks (her vindaloo paste is one of the best recipes I’ve ever tried - just heavenly).   We tend to cook a lot of Indian food around here.  On Thursday, I had planned to make a Madhur red lentil/spinach dish and a side dish of spicy tomatoes/eggplants and I assumed I’d make a pot of basmati rice to go with it.  Agh!  We were out of rice!  No problem, I’d whip up some naan instead.  I check my fridge and what do you know – no yogurt!!  Real naan has to be made with yogurt, so we scrapped that idea and decided to try something new – chapati bread.

The recipe couldn’t be any more simple – chapatis are an Indian unleavened bread, sort of like a tortilla.

You’ll need – 1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted, and 1 cup white flour, sifted (Sifting is important, otherwise you end up with an overly dense and tough chapati – alternately, you could use a specialty chapati flour from an Indian grocer). 

(This is what happens when you try to sift flour and take a picture while also holding a grabby-hands 5 month-old)
(This is what happens when you try to sift flour and take a picture while also holding a grabby-hands 5 month-old. I do love those chubby baby fingers, though.)

Combine these with 1 tsp salt and enough water (close to 6 oz) water to make a soft dough.  Turn out and knead for 6-8 minutes until dough is smooth.  Cover and let rest 30 min. 

 After 30 min, knead the dough a few more times.  Divide into 16 pieces and roll each piece into a ball.  Cover all pieces, removing only 1 at a time to cook.  Heat a heavy skillet on high heat until quite hot, and then reduce the heat to low. 

Roll out the chapati until very very thin.  Firecracker, who is 4, was actually really good at this – she rolled out all of the dough without any help – the pieces were small enough for her to handle, and the dough wasn’t delicate at all.  We had a little assembly line going – Little Hen handed the dough balls to Firecracker, who rolled them out and passed them to me, who cooked them.   

Cook on the skillet for 1 min on one side, and flip, cooking 30 seconds on the other.  Then set directly on the burner to brown (Yes, this works best on a gas range, but I haven’t got one, so I make do). The chapati will puff up and brown in spots.  Remove and cover with a towel until ready to serve.

The final result – dinner for 4 plus more than enough for Hubby to take for lunch the next day - vegan, not so local (except the onions, garlic, spinach, tomato), but I estimate it cost about $4 total.  Biggest bonus – the girls loved it and ate it all up with compliments to the chefs.

2 thoughts on “Making Chapatis”

  1. I used 1.5 yards of each color. Their waistbands are 18 inches long. I layered the colors together so it probably wouldn’t have taken as much if I hadn’t done that. They are really cheap, and I like them better than any that I found anywhere else!

  2. Wow, this entry brings back memories. Strangely, they are of spending New Year’s in Japan, but that’s because my Indian-South African friend had her mother visiting for the holidays, and she cooked us a big dinner, with our help. Mmmmm.

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