Everyone needs to know how to make flatbreads. They’re quick and easy, and people have made them for thousands of years, so the first one we’ll tackle together is chapatis, which go well with pretty much any Indian food. They’re great for scooping up that last bit of rice and sauce, or for stuffing little pieces to pop into your mouth.
Makes 4 chapatis
- 1 cup Durum Atta flour
- Pinch salt (optional)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup water
Yes, we guess you could try to make these with all-purpose — we never have — but I’d think that they’d turn out like tortillas. And probably not very good tortillas, at that. If you like chapatis, you might as well head over to your local Indian or ethnic market and get the right flour. The kind we use is Golden Temple Durum Atta flour. While you’re there, wander the aisles; it’s fascinating to see all the different foodstuffs from around the world. It makes us want to learn more recipes.
Measure the chapati flour. Just scoop into a bowl and come close; making flatbread isn’t precision work. If you have a cup and a quarter of the flour, you’ll end up with larger chapatis, or maybe an extra — so what?
Add salt. Some traditional recipes don’t call for salt, but we like to put in just a pinch. Try it with salt once, try it without next time, see which you like better. That’s the beauty of scratchin’; you decide.
Add water. Add about a 1/3 cup water — cold, warm, doesn’t matter — and stir until it forms a ball. You might have to add a bit more water to incorporate all the flour. Feel free to switch to your fingers to mix. We do.
Knead. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead for about 10 minutes. This ensures that you won’t have flour bombs in the center, so knead the dough until it’s smooth. It’ll probably be a stiff dough, but it shouldn’t be floury. Add more water, if needed.
Rest. You and the dough should rest. We pop it back into the bowl and cover it with a plate so it can rest. How long? Until you’re ready to cook ’em up, silly. If we’re having chapatis with dinner, we’ll make up the dough with our morning tea and let it sit all day long. It’ll be fine.
Preheat. When you’re getting ready to cook, heat up a large cast iron skillet or griddle. If you don’t have one, you could make these on the grill, or you might use a large heavy fry pan with just a bit of oil — we’ve never tried that, though.
Divide. Divide your ball of dough into four pieces and shape each into a ball. Dust with chapati flour and roll them into thin rounds. Thinner. That’s right, about 8-9 inches in diameter and a 1/16 of an inch thick.
Cook. One at a time, place on the hot griddle, and cook for about 30 seconds. Flip. Now, using a wadded- up paper towel, quickly press down on the chapati. Release, and that spot should puff. Do it again in a different spot. And again. And again, until most of the chapati puffs. If need be, flip the chapati again and try pressing on that side. Altogether, your chapati should brown and cook in about a minute.
Keep hot. Remove and wrap in a towel to keep warm while you make the others. Serve immediately.
Told you flatbreads are easy. With Indian food, we generally alternate between chapatis and naan. They’re both really good and both deserve their five stars.