Indian meals, particularly in the north, tend to be accompanied by a wheat-based flat bread that is eaten with the hands and used to scoop up any number of delicious dahl and vegetable dishes. A while ago we wrote a recipe for paranthas, a (typically) stuffed flat bread found all over the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. Chapattis are another variation on the theme and are common across northern India. They are a dry, light, soft bread, cooked simply without oil or spice and best eaten immediately. To make 10 – 12 chapattis take:
- 500 g wholemeal wheat flour (barley, rye or spelt flour if you prefer)
- pinch of seasalt
- 300 mL filtered water
Note: you really need a gas stove for cooking chapattis, the open flame is key.
Much like paranthas, mix flour and salt together in a large bowl, using your hands. Add water a little at a time, scattering it over the flour with your hand rather than pouring it straight into the middle, this gives a more even distribution, making kneading easier. Knead dough with both hands, as you add more water it will become quite wet and sticky but if you dip your hands in water they shouldn’t stick too much.
Set aside a small bowl of dry flour for dusting and dust your work bench and rolling pin with some of this flour. Place a heavy pan over a low flame to heat. Using floury hands take an egg sized piece of dough, dip it in flour and gently roll it out until about 2 – 3 mm thick.
Turn up the flame under your pan and place the rolled dough on the dry pan.
Cook 1 – 2 minutes until the top side slightly changes colour and becomes dry. Flip and cook on the other side and cook a few seconds.
Then remove the pan and, using tongs, place the chapatti directly over the flame and cook for a couple of seconds each side, keep flipping as the chapatti bubbles up and becomes crisp.
Remove from heat before it burns. Done!