Fresh chapatis (also known as rotis or rotlis) are the staple carbohydrate of every Gujarati household. They are a type of unleavened flat bread made of wholewheat flour.
As you are probably aware, Indians eat with their right hand. They break off a piece of the chapati (using the right hand only) and then form the torn off piece into a cone shape using their thumb and forefingers. This cone is then used to scoop up the curry before being placed in the mouth. The theory behind this is that you should use all of your senses when eating food - the smell, sight and taste of the food but also, the sound of the food being prepared and by eating with your hands, you are involving your sense of touch. This approach also saves on the washing up!
When I was young my mum used to make fresh chapatis every day. I didn't appreciate it at the time as it was such a chore but it was the equivalent of having fresh bread straight out of the oven with our dinner. I used to refuse to make the chapatis on the grounds that in my opinion the taste didn't justify the effort (and my mum insisted that they couldn't be in the shape of elephants...) and so I would never need the skill. My mum would ask me what I was going to feed my future husband and I would respond that one of my criteria for marriage was going to be a preference for fresh bread over chapatis. Luckily for me Steve does prefer fresh bread although I imagine that again this is more because of convenience than taste or texture. This, however, is the only one of the marriage criteria from my childhood that Steve fulfills. My future husband was going to be tall, athletic and have a British private school accent (I think he was based on Roger Moore's James Bond). Steve is on the short side, mildly asthmatic and has an odd accent that was originally from the North-East of England but now no one can place. It's definitely love!
Tips for making good chapatis
- Practise - it will take a few attempts to perfect the art of chapati making
- The dough should be firm and dry. If it is tacky, add a little more flour and knead again
- Cook each chapati as it is rolled and then butter immediately as a pile of raw chapatis tend to stick together
- The open flame approach in the video is a little easier with tongs if you are worried about burning your fingers.
Makes around 15 chapatis
- 250g chapati flour
- 30g guar flour
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- A little extra flour for the work surface
- Approximately 200ml of hot water
- Butter or ghee to serve (optional)