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Chapati
(Whole-wheat flatbread)


Chapatis, the daily bread of millions of Indians, are cooked first on a dry hotplate, then held directly over a flame, where they swell with steam to the point of bursting.


Preparation time: 15 min
Standing time: 30 min - 2 hrs
Rolling and cooking time: 2 - 3 min for each chapati


21/2 cups (250 g) atta or sifted whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 or 3 tablespoon melted butter
2/3 cup (150 ml) lukewarm water


Combine the flour and the salt in a large salad bowl. Slowly add water, gathering the flour together as you do so, until a soft, moist dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead it for 6 - 8 minutes until it is smooth and firm. Sprinkle the ball of dough with water, cover it with a damp cloth, and set it aside for half an hour to two hours.
 

When the dough is ready, place a tava or a heavy cast-iron griddle over medium heat. With moistened hands, knead the dough again, then shape into 15 equal-sized patties. Dip them into flour and roll them out thin and even on a floured board. Make them as round as possible and about 51/2 inches (14 cm) across. Keep some plain whole-wheat flour on the side to dust the chapatis as you roll them.
 

Knock the excess flour off a chapati with a few slaps between the hands and place it on the pre-heated griddle. (You can cook several at a time if the size of your griddle allows). When small white blisters appear on the surface of the chapati and the edges begin to turn up, turn it over with a pair of flat tongs and cook the other side until the surface bulges with air pockets. Lift the chapati and toast both sides over a direct flame for a few seconds until it puffs up like a ball. A finished chapati should be cooked completely (no wet spots) and should be freckled with brown spots on both sides. Press the air out and brush one surface with melted butter.
You can also cook a chapati on electric heat. Let it stay on the griddle. Turn it over as many times as it takes for both sides to cook, then gently press the top of the chapati all over with a soft cloth, and the chapati will swell. Serve the chapatis soon after cooking or wrap them in a cloth to keep them warm and soft.