Sunday, February 26, 2012


There is something about flat bread that, to me, makes a curry meal feel complete. Maybe it is because it feels more authentic, or because I like eating with my hands, or just because I really love bread. But, on an average weeknight, we have neither the time nor the motivation to bother making bread. So, on the weekends, we sometimes make a big batch to stash in the freezer.
Butternut pumpkin & jackfruit curry with mango chutney and chappati.

The recipe for these chappatis originally came from How it all Vegan, which I borrowed from the library. It was the version that was translated to British measurements, and I know that in other cookbooks this has led to errors and mistakes. So that may be an explanation for how unimpressed I was. But, the recipe wasn't very good. So I've changed it, quite a lot. I'm not sure about the distinctions between Indian flatbreads, so maybe these need a name other than chappatis - maybe Andy's constant mispronunciation (chiapattis) is a more apt name for them.  Anyways, they're the best flat breads I've been able to make. They're soft and chewy, rather than dry and cardboardy. The recipe is easily cut in half, or doubled. And they're perfect for scooping up a curry.
Black-eyed pea dhal, eggplant bharta, rice and chappatis.

350 grams plain flour (or a mix of plain & whole meal)
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. oil
90 - 175 mL water (this will depend on humidity, your flour, etc. Start with a little - you can always add more later.)

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.

Drizzle over the oil and mix with a fork until the oil is well incorporated.

Slowly drizzle in the water, a little at a time. Mix with a fork until it starts to form a dough, then take over with your hands. Mix it until you have a soft, but not sticky, dough. If it feels just a little too tough, a good way to incorporate a tiny amount more liquid is to knead with wet hands. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, until it is smooth and stretchy.

Divide into balls - about 8 is the size we like from this amount of dough.

Roll each ball thinly. I find the oil in the dough is enough to keep them from sticking without dusting any flour - just keep flipping the bread over as you roll, to make sure one side doesn't hold fast to the counter top.

Hint: don't roll too many at once. If they sit on the counter for too long, they stick and make a mess. I learned this the hard way while making a double batch by myself. It really works best if you have two people, one rolling and one cooking.

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Let it get nice and hot before you start cooking the breads. Then cook one bread at a time, for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until they are lightly browned and bubbly. If the pan is hot enough, they should look like this for about 20 seconds:

Then they will get small bubbles:

Which then turn into big bubbles:

These big bubbles collapse when they cool, leaving light, chewy breads.

Let the breads cool a bit on a plate, and then either (1) eat straightaway, (2) wrap up so they don't go stale while your curry cooks, or (3) put them in a ziploc bag and freeze for later. Half an hour at room temperature and they'll be thawed and fresh as new.


Kari said...

Brilliant! I love your casual comment about not having time on weeknights so doing it on the weekend...I have never made flat bread, irrespective of day!, but am now quite inspired to do so. I love all manner of flat breads and wraps and this would certainly be a more economical approach.

Hannah said...

I'm totally the opposite in that I never feel like I need bread, but I'm still muchly impressed by your awesome dough-stretching and frying talent!

Emily said...

If there's one thing I learned in India, it's that a meal is not complete without chappatis. Yum yum!

{On an unrelated note, would you consider turning off the captcha word verification for comments?!?! It's such a pain!}

Dee said...

I have no recipe, I just use atta flour, salt, water and it always works. I find that I get a perfect rhythmic thing going with one in the pan, rolling the next, perfect puffed finish, repeat. Love flat bread, these same breads are perfect for mexican too.

Mel said...

I'm a massive bread lover too and I especially love making flatbreads. Your photos of the process are fantastic, especially the ones of the chappati puffing up.

Theresa said...

Kari - we do *so much* cooking on the weekends, so we don't have to do much in the week. This past Sunday involved: cooking chickpeas, half of which went into the freezer and the other half got turned into hummus; making soy milk; making seitan cutlets; making dhal burgers; and making bread. And this was a cooking-light week :)

Emily - I had it turned on because I get a lot of porn-spam comments. I'll try it with captcha turned off, because it is a terrible pain, and see how I go.

goodstorysarah said...

I love your blog! I've been following you for a few months now.

I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award today! I posted about it on my blog today as well.

Take care!

Lovlie said...

It's been ages since I last made chapatis! Yours are wonderful. I will definitely have to make some soon. Yummy!

Justin P. Moore said...

Hi Theresa! I like your process photos of making chapati. I also think it's funny that you wrote "indian-ish" for the label. :) I'm thinking about making a bengan bhartha and some chapati this evening. Still trying to get the confidence to describe/document the whole process. In India I was shown SO many times how to make them but it still takes a lot of practice. Then it's just like magic.