Some little old Indian ladies would have had a lot of fun watching me today, bobbling chapati while smoke poured out my kitchen windows. But I had fun! And I made some very good chapati. Not world class to be sure, but delicious. These tender breads are really fun to make and considering how fast they come together, they’re small miracles of economy: 45 minutes from start to finish! Start by assembling your ingredients.
As several readers have pointed out, chapati should ideally be made with atta, a soft wheat flour from India (the fresher the better). If you can find that, use that instead of my flour combination, and simply use water instead of the water-milk combo. Otherwise, combine the water, milk and yogurt if you’re using it. Put it into a small saucepan and heat it until near simmering.
Meanwhile combine the flours and salt in a medium bowl.
Add the wet to the dry.
Start bringing the dough together with a spoon or spatula.
When it starts to form large clumps get in there with your hands and knead.
When you get a ball like this, turn it out onto a work surface. Try to resist flouring it if you can since the dough should be a bit wet and sticky.
Knead for maybe five minutes until it’s smoother and more elastic. Wrap it in plastic or cover it with a cloth and let it hydrate for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile set a cast iron skillet on the stove, and start it warming over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile separate the dough into eight equal portions (about 2.3 ounces for the meticulous out there). Roll the pieces into balls and drape damp towel over them.
Press one of the balls down on a floured surface and sprinkle more flour over the top.
Roll it out to 7 inches or so in diameter.
You want it nice and thin because otherwise it won’t puff. About like so.
So, with the pan heated, brush on some oil or ghee and apply the chapati. Let it cook a couple of minutes until small brown spots appear on the bottom.
Flip the chapati over. After about 30 seconds you’ll see bubbles of steam coming up.
Using your spatula, press down on the bubbles gently to try to get the rest of the top crust to release. Why is this important? Because two thin layers are less rigid than one thicker layer. That’s the genius of this bread.
As long as the bottom isn’t burning you can let the whole bread pillow up. This can be done over an open flame if you like. Me, I have an electric cooktop so it doesn’t work as well. I tried it over an activated element, but it was so hot the chapati caught fire in seconds (that’s where the smoke entered the picture). As long as you can get most or all of the top crust up off the bottom, you’re in good shape.
Transfer the chapati to your stack and apply a little melted butter or ghee. Lord that brush has about had it, hasn’t it? I need to take a trip to the paint store.
Anyway. These are wonderful. I made a batch with all white flour and they did rise and pillow better. However I recommend the half whole wheat version because of the flavor advantage. But feel free to experiment as you see fit!