Indian Whole Wheat Griddle Breads: Chapatis
- 2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling
- Big pinch fine sea salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup olive oil, vegetable oil, melted butter, or ghee
Pour the flour and salt into a large bowl. Slowly pour water into the flour, moving your other hand through the flour in circular motions, until it starts to come together. Then, either in the bowl or on your counter (which you might want to lightly flour to prevent sticking), knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and pliant.
Return the ball of dough to the bowl and rub the surface of the dough with a little oil to keep it from drying out. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and allow to rest about 30 minutes.
When you're ready to make chapatis, assemble your tools: a small, flat bowl of whole wheat flour, a small bowl of olive oil or melted butter with a small spoon in it, and a paper towel-lined plate or container for the finished breads.
Heat a flat griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, on a lightly-floured surface, work the ball of dough into a long log. Cut into 12 equal pieces by cutting it in half, and then half again. Cut each of the quarters into 3 equal pieces. Return to the bowl and cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
To roll the chapatis: Roll a piece of dough between your palms to form a ball, and then flatten with your palm. Dunk this puck in the bowl of flour, and then roll until it's a 4-inch circle. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of oil in the center of the circle, and spread it out almost to the perimeter of the circle using the back of the spoon. Fold the circle in half, then in half again, so it forms a triangle. Seal the edges, and dunk in flour again if it's sticky.
Start rolling, turning the triangle a quarter turn after each roll, until it's about 6-inches wide, with an even thickness. After some practice you'll be able to roll the chapati and rotate it without picking it up; I do this by weighing down a little on my right hand and pushing the chapati around that way.
Test the griddle by sprinkling a little flour on it; if it turns brown immediately, it's ready. Flapping the chapati between your hands to remove any excess flour, slap the chapati onto the griddle. It should start darkening almost immediately.
When small bubbles start to form, spread a little oil over the surface of the chapati, then flip. It should start to puff up. Spoon a little oil over this side too, and when it's puffed up a little more, flip. Press down on the edges of the chapati with your spatula or (if you're brave!) with a dry rag. This will seal the edges and encourage the entire chapati to puff up. If you spot any holes, press down on those too so the air doesn't escape. Allowing the air to stay inside the whole chapati makes it flaky and light. But don't fret if your first few don't puff up; it takes practice! It will still taste delicious.
Remove to your container. Repeat with the remaining dough, and serve the chapatis hot.
Recipe courtesy of Aarti Sequeira