The chapati is the staple flat bread of Northern India and Pakistan, also known as a roti. It can be made from many types of grain, but is most commonly made with finely ground whole wheat flour. Sometimes it is cooked in a little oil.
- Knead flour and water, starting with only a slight dribble of water and adding more as you go until the dough becomes smooth but not too sticky.
- Cover for at least 5 minutes.
- Divide into balls and roll out into disks, slightly thicker than denim material; sprinkle with flour as you roll.
- Place a non-oiled pan on a moderately high fire and test its surface temperature by holding your hand over it.
- When very hot, put a chapati on the pan and press it flat with a spatula or dry cloth to make it rise up.
- Flip and repeat so it becomes lightly browned on both sides.
- Chapatis are often brushed with ghee (clarified butter) after being cooked.
Makes 8 chapatis. (about 80% of dough’s mass)
Regional variations abound in the detail of preparing and cooking roti. In most Indian cooking, for example, the roti is finished by toasting it in the open flame of the cooker. The aim of this process is to encourage the roti to puff up. The hot air which builds inside because the water inside the roti begins to turn into steam and cooks the roti inside out. This may also be achieved under a grill, or by using a microwave (try 30 seconds on high power). Universally, however, the aim in rolling is to get the roti to a perfectly round shape (for aesthetics) and to create uniform thickness, which is vital for successful cooking.
It should also be noted that there are Caribbean specific variation of Roti one of which uses boiled, then ground Yellow Split Peas in its preparation.
Chapatis are usually eaten with cooked dal (lentil soup) or vegetable dishes like Indian curry. Pieces of the chapati are used to wrap and lift bites of the other dishes.