This is my mum’s recipe, which I have conveniently nicked. I remember regularly coming home from school to a stack of freshly made chapattis. Making or eating them makes me feel at home and I have a big stack of chapati flour in my kitchen cupboard. These are arguably one of the healthiest of the Indian breads – they’re made with wholemeal flour and aren’t fried or made with lots of butter.
Makes 16 smaller chapattis or 12 larger ones
250g chapatti flour or atta (or you can use half plain flour, half wholemeal flour)
1 and half tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
150ml hot water
A pinch of salt
1. Start by rubbing the oil into the flour. Then add the salt, followed by the water. Add the water slowly as you may not need it all. The dough should be moist but not overly sticky. Divide the dough into ping pong ball sizes. Make them slightly larger for bigger chapatis.
2. Next you need to roll them out. These are usually rolled out on a floured surface although my mum does hers on an oiled surface. I prefer using flour, but not too much or the flour makes a right mess of the hob when you cook them over the open flame. On your sparsely floured surface, roll each chapati out into a 5-6 inch diameter circle. You can buy a chapati rolling pin but I use a regular one. (My mother tells me she used a table leg when she was first married.) It takes a bit of practice to get completely round chapatis – mine are often a bit wonky. (We used to play a game called chapati geography since mine often ended up looking like various continents. I think I was proudest of the Australia chapati.) You can buy a round board to roll them out on but I don’t make them often enough to justify buying one.
3. Once you’ve rolled out your chapatis, heat a frying pan over a medium heat (no oil needed). You can buy a slightly concave tawa but I use a non-stick crepe pan, because it does the job and my kitchen cupboards are already quite full. Put a chapati onto the warmed frying pan and cook either side for about 20 seconds. You can flip it over with a spatula or tongs. I use a trusty pair of stainless steel chapatis tongs.
4. Move the frying pan off the heat and turn the heat up to maximum. Using your tongs, put the chapati on the flame. It will puff up, ideally completely, but partially is fine. (Practice makes perfect!) Turn over to make sure both sides are cooked.
5. Put your warm chapati onto a tea towel and butter it with a butter wrapper or the end of a block of butter. Wrap it up in the tea towel to keep it warm while you cook the rest. Freeze any that don’t get eaten – they freeze and defrost well.