Chapati Recipe

Even easier than naan, chapati — also know as roti or fulka — is another go-to South Asian flatbread type. It’s enjoyed in India, Pakistan and many places beyond. The main difference between chapati and naan is that chapati are unleavened, so they’re even quicker to make. They also call for whole wheat flour, which gives them a nuttier taste.

11.5 ounces(2 cups) atta (Indian whole wheat flour, OR
5.5 ounces [1 cup] whole wheat flour plus 5 ounces [1 cup] all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1/2 cup) water
4 ounces (1/2 cup) whole milk (or yogurt-milk combo)

Combine the flours and salt in a medium bowl (or in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle) and stir. Meanwhile, combine the water and milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Combine the hot water mixture with the flour mixture and work them together to form a soft dough (add more milk if needed). Knead the dough until it’s smooth, then set it aside to rest so the flour can fully hydrate.

When you’re ready to prepare the breads, divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape the pieces into balls. Roll them by flattening each ball on a lightly floured surface and applying a rolling pin. Roll them into roughly 6-inch circles, trying not to work in too much extra flour, lest you make the chapati dry.

Apply the chapati to a cast iron skillet. As the bread starts to puff, press it with a spatula to spread the bubbles around and release the “top” crust from the bottom. Flip it when it brown spots appear on the griddle side. Griddle the other side until lightly browned, then transfer to the chapati to the burner itself for a few seconds, it will puff up like a balloon.

Butter the finished breads and keep them warm until serving. Chapati can be kept, wrapped for up to two days.

12 thoughts on “Chapati Recipe”

  1. Joe, Thanks for the recipe, it is easy to make and handy. just a question, don’t they get tough after a short time if they are not used since do not have the leavening agent?

    1. Hi Nahid!

      These are definitely best served right after you make them, though the puffing technique keeps them from getting too tough. Since you live in Cincinnati, you’ll definitely be able to find some atta, which is the proper flour for these. Try it and let me know what you think!

      – Joe

  2. Hi Joe,
    Thanks for the recipe, it is almost a staple food in some parts of India. Sharing a few tips – instead of butter, generally clarified butter (ghee) is used in India. Mostly water and a pinch of salt is used for making the dough for chapathi, roti & phulka. Adding a few tablespoons of milk or ghee during the kneading will make the dough even more soft. Chapathi can be made entirely on the griddle as well. Pressing with a spatula or scrunched up tissues makes it puff. Brush lightly with ghee while in the griddle. It will not puff like a balloon if made entirely on the griddle, and cannot be flipped on the burner after brushing with ghee. Chapathi made without any butter is called roti. Phulka (fulka) has a smaller diameter than roti.
    The same dough can be deep fried to make ‘poori’. Make small rounds of about 3 or 4 inches for poori.

    1. Thanks so much for this, Toosie!

      As you have no doubt seen from the conversation, I’m doing my best to adapt this recipe to American ingredients…which isn’t easy. I greatly appreciate you clarifying the differences between the various breads for me. I need all the help I can get this week, since I’m more than a little out of my depth. Thank you for all your help and insight!

      – Joe

      1. The best substitute I have found is very strong bread flour. Most wheat grown in India is actually durum wheat, but you can’t use pasta flour as it’s lost its bran and most importantly is too fine. The extra protein in the very strong flour helps with the elasticity. You don’t get the same taste because you’ve lost the bran, but it’s as close as you can get.

        1. Very interesting, Shilpa. I have some durum bread flour, I’ll use it. I received criticism over these (justifiably), and have wanted to re-do them ever since. You’ve provided me with inspiration!

          Cheers,

          – Joe

  3. they don’t get tough as the condensation from the steam that is trapped when it balloons up keeps them soft, but not forever.

  4. Here in my country, we call this one Sada roti, then there is roti or i think the indians call it paratha… that has a bit of baking powder inside. My mum swears by the ‘healthiness’ of sada roti :). But you should look up Pepper roti. Its a Trinidadian special. Lovely mix of the sada roti and potato with heavenly pepper flavour….

    1. Fabulous idea, Melody. I will absolutely do that. Thanks very much for weighing in on this. I’m just discovering how popular Asian breads are in parts of the New World. I’m fascinated!

      – Joe

  5. I always make my dough only from “atta” which is available at all Indian stores . Also, I only knead with water and add a little ghee when cooking. If you make your chapatis a little thick they tend to stay softer. The next day you can always put it on a cast iron skillet and crisp them up….but then they must be eaten immediately

    1. Hello Sandhya!

      You’re quite right. Atta is ideal for these. My aim here was to try to get as close as I could get to good chapati with ingredients that are commonly available outside of larger cities. However I need to make a note of that in the recipe. Thanks for the reminder!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

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