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What are Chapatis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2016
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Chapatis are Indian breads, also called rotis. There are a number of different variations on chapatis, but as a general rule they include some type of flour, salt, and water. These ingredients are mixed to form a dough which is formed into flat discs which can be grilled or fried, depending on the region. Many Indian meals come with chapatis, designed to pick up or push food. With some practice, they are relatively easy to make.

The base of chapatis is flour. Many are made with wheat flour, also called atta. Corn, graham, barley, and millet can all be used for chapatis as well, and sometimes a blend of flours is used. Salt is added to taste, followed by water, which can be replaced by milk or yogurt for a softer, richer chapati. Finally, other ingredients such as spices and vegetables may be added for specific recipes.

In Gujarat, chapatis which are toasted so that they are crispy are known as khakra. Khakra may be spread with chutney and other ingredients, and it is a popular breakfast food. Thicker chapatis known as rotlas are often made with millet flour. Puris, or pooris, are chapatis fried in oil so that they are crispy, and puris often form large bubbles as well. Since they are fried, puris should be eaten hot.

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A popular version of the chapati is a paratha, a formal chapati made with ghee instead of oil and often filled with things like potatoes or meat. Parathas are somewhat tricky to make, and they are served to guests, rather than being eaten casually at home. Street stands may also offer parathas, usually made hot in a variety of flavors and brushed with ghee after they have been cooked on a griddle.

Unlike naan, another popular Indian bread, chapatis are not leavened. They are more common in Northern India, although Indian restaurants outside of India may offer both naans and rotis, since the fluffy yeast breads and flat breads are in equally high demand. For home-made Indian meals, chapatis are a great deal of fun to make, especially when cooks start experimenting with fillers and interesting additions.

To make chapatis, mix one cup of flour with a pinch of salt and add two tablespoons of oil or melted ghee. Add around 1/3 cup water and knead, forming a thick dough. Break off small pieces of the dough, form balls, and roll the balls out. Cook these basic chapatis on a griddle, and serve warm.

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ddljohn
Post 3

I love chapatis and I've tried to make it several times at home. It hasn't come out bad, but I don't have much practice with dough and can never seem to get the perfect circle that recipes generally show.

The other issue is getting the chapati to puff up. I know it can remain flat, but I ate puffed chapatis once which were extra crispy and when you tore one, you could see the steam come out. I've been trying to do the same, but it never comes out right. While I cook the chapatis on a non-stick pan, I take a kitchen towel and apply some light pressure on the chapati. This does cause it to puff lightly, but not as much as it should.

Anyone have any tips to make chapatis puff while cooking?

serenesurface
Post 2

I had chapatis when I was in East Africa. I know that chapatis are from South Asia and Southeast Asia originally, but I guess the recipe spread to Eastern Africa from there. There are also a lot of Indians in Africa that moved many decades ago, so it might have spread to Africa that way also.

The chapatis I had in Africa were cooked in a tandoori oven instead of on the stove. Tandoori ovens are brick or stone deep ovens where a fire is made on the bottom and food is cooked on the walls of it. The chapatis are made and slapped onto the walls of the oven and cooked that way.

These chapatis were the

best bread I had in my life. They actually remind me of Mexican breads a little bit. I loved eating them with tandoori chicken and lamb or just plain. I don't know if chapatis that are cooked on a skillet on the stove taste different, but I need to try making them sometime.
turquoise
Post 1

I miss my mom's chapatis. In India, it's normal for people to prepare chapatis fresh every single day. My mom also makes them every morning. My best memories of being home are waking up to the smell of chapatis in the morning. My mom serves them with lot of ghee (clarified butter).

Chapatis and masala chai, which is a spiced chai with milk are the best. Now I am studying abroad and only get fresh chapatis at Indian restaurants. I buy the frozen kind from Asian supermarkets sometimes, but it's nowhere near mom's chapatis.

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