Sunday evening found Beth and I all set to cook. She made salad, and I made Chapati, an Indian flatbread which I made using whole wheat flower and water:

1.5 cups flour
2/3 cup water (or enough to make elasticky)

I sifted the flour into a bowl, dug a hole in the middle, and poured in the water. Beth’s housemate suggested using his KitchenAid, but I adore working dough with my hands, and kneading it for a while until it felt right.

I did find it to have too much water, and added a bit more flour, but it was guesswork as this is my first attempt at Chapati. Then I let it sit for 2 hours. It’s unleavened, so it doesn’t really rise, but this softens it a bit.

I rolled them out one at a time, thinner on the edges, about 5” wide; and then sprinkled some curry on them before cooking (how fancy!)

rolled out very thin

rolled out very thin

I fried them as I went, in a dry pan (smoky!) on medium heat, until I started to see darkening spots forming, then flip.

It seems that you can get them to puff up a bit if you have a flame, just put the hot cooked Chapati over it briefly. With an electric stove… well, my recipe said to press it down briefly after cooking both sides. I had minimal results with this “pressing down” theory, which is likely more my skill than anything. Since making it, I’ve read a few more recipes which say to turn the pan on high. Is this a better option for an electric-stove puffing process? Don’t know. I’ll need more practice to decide my own choice of method.

Is it puffing? Is it puffing?

Is it puffing? Is it puffing?

It’s a somewhat tough dry bread (again, unleavened), especially with using the whole wheat flour. But that makes it excellent with curries and the like. Quite a few recipes recommend Ghee or oil (added by various methods), which would yummy it up a bit. Beth and I simply dipped it in plain greek yogurt when eating.

Beth made a huge salad for dinner (and for the next few days of lunches). Lettuce from her garden, quartered artichoke hearts, cooked black beans, cooked potato pieces, onion, walnuts, organic cherry tomatoes, apple pieces, sharp cheddar cheese cubes, and Quorn (made of a mycoprotein fungus) imitation chicken pieces. Dressed it with lemon juice.

Beth at the cutting board

Beth at the cutting board

Some tangerine soda, and it was a splendid meal. But what was most lovely about it to me was the cooking together.

 There’s something so nice about a kitchen in use with good company. The past few years I have regularly gone to a potluck with friends in Olympia, where we bring ingredients rather than pre-made dishes. And it gives me such a sense of community and companionship and even purpose: I have a role, I am contributing, I feel loved (and I ensure the meal has a dessert, thank god!).

Yeah, call me sappy, but I love cooking in the kitchen with good company. Simply love it.

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6 comments to Chapatilicious

  • lambykins

    cooking with you must be a blast darlin!

  • lambykins

    p.s., what happened during the two hours? did you read a good book?

  • el

    My grandfather is from Punjab, and chapatis are probably the first thing I ever learned how to cook, standing on a chair to reach the counter in my grandma’s kitchen.

    We make our dough with 1 part water, 1 part whole wheat flour, and 1 part white flour. It makes them a little softer. I’ve never let the dough sit. Mix the water in a little bit at a time, so that you know when you’ve got enough. The dough should be a little tacky, but not sticky.

    We also roll ours out in a square, then brush with olive oil (instead of the traditional ghee. We used to use butter, but are healthier now.) Next fold in 3rds both ways. Then roll out again in a square. You can put some olive oil or butter on both sides. Sometimes I’ll do one side, put in the pan, and then do the other side. while it’s in the pan. You can use a spoon to put the olive oil on. My grandmother does use a folded up dishcloth to press her chapatis while they cook, she does have an electric stove.

    Rolling them twice will help make them puffier. Higher heat will also probably help. But if it is really smoking, it’s too hot.

    My full Punjabi aunties can make perfectly round ones! The reason we make square ones is that my grandmother, who isn’t Punjabi, could never get the hang of making them round. The aunties will remake them if they are not perfect!

    Good luck, you’ll get better with practice. You can also use leftover Indian dishes, especially things with potato, to make a filling for them. Just add before folding up. Yummy!

    You can sprinkle with salt and pepper, or even top with pb! (That was my mother’s topping of choice as a child.

    A traditional Punjabi breakfast is Chapati with plain yogurt and lemon or mango pickle. You sprinkle pepper over the yogurt as well.

  • El, that is both instructive and inspiring, thanks so much for sharing! I will try again with the folding technique, maybe even through some garlic in before the fold. And maybe even PB! :)

  • el

    Let me know how the next batch goes!

  • I like this recipe. I have made it for a family gethering event and my sister asked about ingredients…Also some of my costumers say that it’s very nice.Thanks