A Chapati Recipe is essential for any serious Indian food lover!
The Indian Chapati, which is also known as roti, is a delicious but simply put together soft flat bread prepared with whole wheat flour.
The day when I entered India, I learned my first typical Indian food lesson, when the chapati flatbread was introduced to me.
What is Chapati?
Chapati is an Indian flat bread prepared with simple whole wheat flour, salt, and water.
Sometimes ghee (clarified butter) is added to create moist flakey buttery layers, this is called a ghee chapati.
Every family household in India prepares a batch of fresh chapatis every single day.
The whole wheat flour used is known as atta or simply chapati flour.
They prepare the dough, let it rest, roll out the chapati balls and fry the chapati on a flat pan known as a tawa pan in India.
Chapati is a staple daily flat bread in the Indian subcontinent.
Normally the task of making the roti is given to the women of the house, and the ladies cook the flatbreads in the early morning hours when it is still dark outside.
Depending on the household, the wholewheat dough is prepared at times the previous evening.
Chapati vs Roti vs Phulka vs Paratha vs Nan
In India, flatbreads have at times different names, depending on the region.
So, Chapati, Roti, and Phulka are the same thing, a plain flatbread prepared with wholewheat flour or local millet flours.
However, a flatbread with ghee is also a chapati and in some places, it is a paratha/parantha, whereas both can be stuffed with mince, spiced mash potato, spinach etc.
A paratha can be prepared with all purpose flour or whole wheat flour.
Chapati, Roti, Phulka, and Paratha are rolled out doughs and prepared on the stove top.
A nan is a stretched out all-purpose flour flat bread which is leavened with egg or in modern recipes with yeast.
Often while nan bread includes milk too and is basted with butter and fresh chopped garlic.
Nans are typically cooked in a tandoori oven.
In some regions in India, you will see more variations of flatbread
How to use Chapati?
Chapati is the simplest bread in the world but the humble flat bread can be used in so many ways with your food, which makes the Chapati recipe a complete essential in your Indian cooking repertoire!
You can use the chapati to spoon up any Indian curry or dal or you can simply transform it into a wrap or here around they would say a stuffed chapati roll.
Besides, that Chapati with ghee is often while enjoyed as a breakfast item.
In fact, chapati with ghee tastes like the French croissant and has buttery soft layers like a classic croissant.
In Goa, for example, chapati is a staple breakfast item.
Chapati Recipe flat bread ingredients
To create soft chapati flatbread dough you will need the following 4 main ingredients.
- whole wheat flour is the main ingredient, which is better known as Atta in India.
- a sprinkle of salt to give the dough flavor
- and of course, water to form an elastic and form-able dough
- some oil so that the cooked chapati doesn't get tough. (This is a plus point ingredient)
...and if you want to make a ghee chapati then add the clarified butter to that too.
How to make Chapati dough?
When preparing chapati flatbread from scratch you will need to follow some simple steps.
When you prepare the chapati dough, make sure to work it out into a smooth dough for 5-10 minutes.
you will need to work out the dough, that way the chapati will be softer.
The right amount of water is important at the same time using quality whole wheat flour is another plus point.
Also, to make a soft chapati dough you will need to give the dough some resting time and another crucial point is to work out the dough again just before rolling out the chapati circles.
How to make Ghee Chapatis?
The flatbread with ghee, if made correctly, will reward you with buttery soft delicious layers on the inside, just like a croissant.
The layers in a ghee chapati recipe are created by rolling out the dough batch by batch, spreading ghee on it, folding it in, rolling it out again and repeating the process.
It's the same process for making a French Croissant!
You can see the whole process in my step by step pictures in the recipe card.
How to cook the rolled out chapati?
For the plain dry chapati recipe, cook the chapati on a dry flat frying griddle or in a chapati maker.
For the ghee chapati recipe, cook the chapati the same way like the plain chapati, just that you spread some ghee on the rolled out chapati each time on both sides before frying.
You will realize that the easiest and most hygienic way of cooking this chapati recipe is of course with a flat grilled pan.
These pans are also known as tawa pans in India.
After all, you can use the flat pan too for making dosa and French crepes.
If you can't get a tawa, buy a crepes pan.
Another option is to get a chapati maker.
I have heard of those but never seen one.
Eventually, you could also just use a Tortilla maker tortilla maker/tortilla press cooker.
Why is my chapati dough sticky?
When preparing the chapati recipe, you might have added a little more water than needed.
A quick fix for that is to add small quantities of flours to the dough while working out the chapati dough further until you get a smooth dough.
Why is my chapati dough hard or why is my chapati chewy?
Make sure to follow these steps for soft chapati:
- add little oil to your dough, this is a trick to make your life easier and should help you to create soft chapati
- ultimately try making only ghee chapatis first until you get a hang for Indian flatbreads. It's hard to mess up buttery flakey soft ghee chapati. This is how I started out too.
- use quality fine ground whole wheat flour. Try to get Indian whole wheat flour, aka atta, as it's more suitable for Indian flatbreads.
- add enough water to the dough so that it's not dry. Adjust the liquids. You will notice that, sometimes the amount of liquid depends on the weather in your part of the world because your flour gets affected by humidity in the air and sucks in water. Wet weather means, add a few drops less water. In a dry climate, I often noticed that I needed little extra water than described in a recipe. Use your judgment. The dough should not be too dry, nor should it be sticky. Adjust with small qualities of flour and water until you got it right!
- try using lukewarm water for better results. If you struggle a lot try using milk or buttermilk, instead of water. That will get you 100% soft chapatis but that's not the traditional way and the chapatis will taste different too.
- work out your dough until you have a smooth and soft dough which is not sticky. It's important that you work out your dough first and then a second time shortly just before rolling out again.
- Let your dough rest at least 15 mins minimum after having worked it out the first time. For best result let it rest overnight.
- Roll out your chapati evenly, not too thin, nor too thick. 3 mm or 0.11 inch is the rule. when rolled out too thin your chapati tends to get harder whilst cooking. Also, don't add too much flour while rolling out the dough, just enough so that it doesn't stick. Flour literally sucks out the water from the chapati and the chapati can turn out more dry and hard.
- Use a good non-stick griddle, which heats up evenly. Don't try it out for the first time with a regular sticky griddle. You will have a hard time and your chapati will get black and burn on some spots while remaining uncooked in other places. For example, I tried making chapati once with a traditional clay griddle. It was a sticky horror.
- Dust your rolled out chapati before cooking it to get rid of excess flour which can burn on the griddle and turn your chapati harder. To dust just slap the chapati between your hands
- Heat up your pan before placing the first chapati into the griddle pan. Always cook with high heat only on all sides for a short time. never cook on slow heat, the chapati will get chewy.
How to make Chapati round?
When rolling out the dough keep enough flour under your chapati, but not too much either, just enough to not stick. Use a small rolling pin too.
If you are new to this, just roll out the dough a little and turn it each time so that you slowly have a round circle shaped.
In time you get the hang for this and eventually you will see that when rolling out the chapati dough with some flour underneath, that the chapati circle starts to move a little always towards the right.
And so you can create effortlessly a round chapati.
Why does a chapati puff and how to puff a Chapati?
You will have noticed that chapati is often seen and presented puffed, stuffed with hot air when freshly prepared.
When working out the dough layers are formed between and so heat of the griddle creates hot air which makes the chapati puff.
A chapati doesn't puff that much on a griddle.
If you want to puff up your chapati like a balloon, then cook it first on both sides and at the end drag the chapati on a raw gas flame.
That will create the chapati balloon effect.
Ghee chapati is heavier and doesn't tend to puff the way plain chapati does.
How to store cooked chapatis?
So, that chapatis remain hot after cooking, you need to store them well.
To do that you can use a hot pot or some kind of an insulated container of the chapati size.
That way the chapati will remain soft and warm.
Another option is to wrap the chapati into aluminum foil so that they remain soft.
Leaving the chapati out is what makes them slowly tough.
Tools you can need to make this chapati recipe:
- Mini Wood Rolling Pin
- Cast Iron Griddle - flat pan
- Hot Pot/Insulated container to store the Chapatis so that they remain soft and warm
Flatbreads from around the world
Serving suggestions with the Chapati recipe 🍛
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- Start by mixing the Flour and the salt well, make a well and add the oil and water. Mix and work out the dough on a board. It should never be soft but rather harder! Let it rest covered with some flour. Best is over night or at least 30 minutes.
- Roll that ball out with little flour so that it doesn't stick and spread some ghee on the surface of the dough.
- Dust it a bit so that the flour won't burn while cooking and add the raw rolled out dough to the preheated flat pan. Cook 1 side first for 10 seconds, then the other side.
- Turn around and this time spread little ghee onto the surface. Turn it again and spread on that side some ghee too. The chapati will blow up a bit but not that much as it does when cooked without ghee.
- Some parts will get a bit dark and a cow freckles pattern will appear. That's normal, that's how it is prepared everywhere.
- Best enjoyed still warm.
- In India people store the freshly cooked chapatis in a special chapati container so that it remains soft through the day. People usually take these to work to have with their food or in Bombay you have the Dhaba wallas caring those metal boxes with the warm chapatis and curries to the offices.
- You can make this chapati without ghee by turning it into a plain chapati! Just leave out any of the ghee rolling/folding parts and don't add ghee to the frying of the chapati bread.
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The Post, Chapati recipe, was first published on March 16th, 2012 and was enhanced and updated ever since.