Our friends Ben and Jamie came over to make Chapati yesterday. New York has been damp-and even what I would describe as dank-off and on for days, so a big warm plate of buttery chapati served with our favorite simple dhal sounded like the perfect lunch.
Mama Jamie described her time in Asia and her experience with chapati as we worked. She described staying with a woman near Tibet, waking up each morning to sit around her fire on which she would make chapati served with steaming hot tea. Mmmm.
This is our New York version. The original recipe was taken from Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves From Your Own Hands. My sister-in-law Nicole and my baby niece Skylar got this cookbook for me for my birthday. Perhaps it is the weather that threw the flour amounts off, but we found we needed quite a bit more flour than the recipe called for but also found that the basic technique was described perfectly.
In the end we were all covered in flour, and our bellies were happy.
adapted from Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves from Your Own Hands
*2-3 c. whole wheat flour (the coarser, the better). plus more for the board
*1 1/4 cool water
With your Yummy, measure out two cups of the flour. To that, add a cup of the water, and stir with your hands or a wooden spoon till all the water has been absorbed and the mixture is soft and a bit springy.
Here’s where it gets very goopy, so prepare yourself. Add the extra 1/4 c. of water to the mixture and knead with your hands until all of the water is absorbed. The ultimate texture should be very soft but not gooey. If, after you’ve kneaded in that water for about 5 minutes, you notice that the texture is still too wet, then add some more of your flour, 1/4 cup at a time. Cover your bowl with a damp, clean kitchen towel and let the dough rest for a few minutes as you set up your workspace for the next round.
First, Big Person should heat a wide, flat pan on the stove over a medium flame.
Then, together, flour a large wooden cutting board or your counter with a generous amount of flour (we used white flour here as it’s more economical, but you could continue to use whole wheat if you like). Set out another bowl full of the flour that you will use while rolling and patting your chapati. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and set an oven-proof dish or low bowl on the middle shelf of your oven to hold your cooked chapati and keep them warm till ready to serve.
Flour your hands, and have your Yummy follow suit. Note that you’ll have to cover the dough you’re not using with that same damp towel so that your dough doesn’t get tough and form a crusty outer layer. You and your mini-chef can now take a tangerine-sized lump of the dough and roll it into a ball in your hands or on your floured board. If the dough feels a bit too goopy, roll it around in the flour first to make a ball, and then pick it up to pat it into a pancake, about 6 inches across. Do not worry if your chapati are not perfect circles and are a bit misshapen as this will lend to their charm.
Big Person: Throw the chapati pancakes onto the heated pan and cook 1 1/2-2 minutes on each side, flipping them with a set of tongs for easy handling. Once they’re lightly browned, place them in your warm oven till you’re ready to serve them. We highly recommend sandwiching some butter in between each chapati so that your chapati are warm AND buttery.