Chapatis or often known as roti is an unleavened bread and one of the world’s simplest breads to make. It’s fun to eat too because you can tear into pieces and dip them into curries, yogurt, etc, or you can wrap some meats and/or vegetables with it. The dough is made with flour, salt, and water. The dough is then rolled out and cooked on griddle or a skillet.
Chapatis are quintessential food in the Subcontinent. They are cheap to make. They feed and nourish people in the Subcontinent, they are versatile and taste good with almost anything. Just like rice in our household and majority of Asians.
I got this wonderful chapatis recipe from Mangoes and Curry Leaves cookbook by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. If you’re making chapatis for the first time, they suggested to use atta flour. I’ve seen this in Asian grocery store before. If you can’t find this in Asian grocery store, you can try South Asian grocery, I believe they have it for sure. Atta is a special kind of whole wheat flour, made from hard durum wheat that is very finely ground. An attractive pale yellow brown in color, it makes the best chapatis because it is strong and makes a dough that rolls out very smoothly.
It may seems like a lot of work at first, but really, like making other breads, it’s more of time-consuming rather than physical work. Yes, you need to roll out the dough, but that doesn’t take too much time. Once you get a hang of it, you will get addicted making them and eating them too.
- About 2 cups atta flour, or substitute whole wheat flour, sifted, plus extra for rolling
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter) and more for cooking the bread
- About 1 cup warm water
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours (the longer the dough stands, the easier the breads are to shape and the more digestible they are)
- Divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll each one into a ball under your lightly cupped palm. Place some flour on your work surface, dust your palm with flour, and flatten each ball in the flour, pressing both sides into the flour in turn
- Work with one piece at a time, leaving the others lightly covered. Working on a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough with a rolling pin, without turning it over, rolling from the center outward with light strokes and rotating the bread slightly between each stroke, until it is 7 to 8 inches in diameter. Set aside and repeat with the remaining breads. Do not stack the rolled-out breads; if you don’t have enough counter space for them all, roll out just a few and begin cooking, then roll out the others as the bread cook
- Heat a cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot, put about ½ tsp of oil or ghee and spread it over the surface. Place a chapati top side down on the griddle and let it cook for only 10 to 15 seconds, then gently flip to the second side. Cook on the second side until small bubbles begin to form in the dough, approximately 1 minutes
- At this stage, a perfect chapati will start to balloon. You can gently press on the large bubbles by using a rubber spatula or your fingers (make sure you wrapped your fingers in paper towels because it’s hot), if the breads start to burn on the bottom before it has ballooned, move the bread across the skillet, dislodging it from the point at which it is beginning to burn
- When you are happy with your chapati, remove it and wrap in a clean towel. Cook the other bread, stacking each as it is finished on top of the others and wrapping the stack in cloth to keep the breads soft and warm