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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chapati/Roti/Fulka
























I have been making stacks of Chapatis since I was 7 years old. I must have rolled many more than thousands of chapatis in my life time. However last few years with my busy life I have become lazy in making these everyday, because nowadays you get so many forms of frozen and ready made Naan, chapatis and Roti etc.

Shame on me for getting away from this good thing. It does not take long to make it. It is a rhythmatic activity, while you are rolling one you are cooking another one on a skillet or "tava" and open flame.

The fresh aroma and unforgettable taste of these Home made Chapatis that are just made from scratch, can not surpass taste of any bread that you have ever tried.

I do want to pass on the recipe and method of making this very simple and easy bread, so if they decide to do this, they have this photo blog to follow.

Thanks to Wikipedia for following excellent description of Chapati. I could not have done a better job.

Chapati or Chapatti or Chapathi is an unleavened flatbread (also known as Roti) from the Indian subcontinent. Versions of it are found in Turkmenistan, in East African countries Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania

Chapatis are one of the most common forms in which wheat, the staple of northern South Asia, is consumed. Chapati is a form of roti (bread). The words are often used interchangeably. While roti refers to any flat unleavened bread, chapati is a roti made of whole wheat flour and cooked on a tava (flat skillet).

Chapatis are made from a firm but pliable dough made from flour (whole grain common wheat), 'atta' in Urdu/Hindi/Punjabi/Bengali, and water. Some people also add salt and/or oil to the dough. Small portions of the dough are rolled out into discs much like a Mexican tortilla, using a rolling pin. The rolled-out dough is thrown on the preheated dry skillet and cooked on both sides. In some regions it is only partly cooked on the skillet, and then put directly on a high flame, which makes it blow up like a balloon. The hot air cooks the chapati rapidly from the inside. In some parts of northern India (e.g. Punjab) and Pakistan, this is called a phulka (that which has been inflated).

Often, the top of a chapati is slathered with butter or ghee (clarified butter). A piece of chapati is torn off and used to pick up the meat or vegetable dish(es) that make the meal. It is folded into a sort of loose cone and used as a scoop to eat the more liquid dishes at a meal like dal.

Chapati sizes (diameter and thickness) vary from region to region and kitchen to kitchen. In Gujarat, for example, the chapati is called a 'rotli' and can be as thin as tissue paper. Chapatis made in domestic kitchens are usually not larger than 15–18 cm in diameter since the 'tava' from which they are made comes in sizes that fit comfortably on a domestic stove top. Tavas were traditionally made of unglazed earthenware, but are now typically made from metal and non stick material.

There are also electric tavas manufactured in India. The shape of the rolling pin also varies from region to region. Some household simply use a kitchen work top as a sort of pastry board, but homes have round flat-topped 'boards' specifically for rolling out chapatis that may be made of wood or stone.

Flat unleavened breads in South Asia come in many forms, the chapati is only one of them. A roti, made of a dough similar to that used to make chapatis and cooked in an oven, is a 'tandoori roti'. The combination of wheat flour with one or more flours (e.g. chickpea, maise, or millet) will produce a "missi roti". Rotis made with pearl millet (bajra) or maize (makka) or (jowar) flour usually carry the name of the flour, as in "bajra roti" or "makke ki roti". Flat breads like chapati and roti are traditionally a food of northern South Asia. The peninsular south, the east and northeast and the Kashmir valley are primarily rice-eating cultures. In southern India, there is often no distinction made between a 'chapati' and its layered fried version the 'paratha', although now the 'tandoori roti' is to be found in the smallest towns.

Here is how I make them. As per Wiki's above description, it is very true that the size and thickness of chapati varies in different region of Indian. Where my family is originally from they make really really thin chapatis and it would make me all day to make them, but where I grew up in North and am used to making and eating the Chapatis of medium thickness as per pictures, which is thinner that that of Pita bread.

This recipe makes about 20-22 chapatis depending on the size of balls you divide the dough in to and desired thickness of chapatis.



Ingredients:



• 2 cups of Duram Wheat chapati flour (available at local Indian Grocers)

• 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

• Some extra oil to cover the dough once it is kneaded.

• 1 teaspoon of salt

• Water to knead the dough to consistency of firmer than Pizza dough but that of pliable consistency.

• You would need mix of 1 cup rice flour and 1 cup all purpose flour to roll the chapati (I like the way rice flour because it helps roll the chapatis better) I usually keep this mix in a container ready and use it whenever I make rotis or chapatis.

• Ghee or butter to brush on cooked chapatis.



Method:


• Mix wheat chapati flour, salt, oil and water, make the dough of firm by pliable consistency.

• Kneed is well for 5 min with hands or in food processor.

• Cover the dough in with some oil and with plastic wrap.

• Let it sit for 15-30 min. (it will not rise)

• I like to make the chapati on a gas stove, so I can cook part of the chapati on the Skillet/tava and then finish it on the open flame so it blow up like Fulka.

• Again like I said earlier it is a rhythmic activity, once you get the hang of it, it does not take more than 30 min to make these 20-22 chapatis.

• I have my counter and stove top set up with two burners going, one on medium heat with skillet/tava on it and another one on low heat. This one I turn it up to high whenever I place half cooked chapati on it.

• Make golf ball size of balls from dough. (about 20-22)

• Flatten the ball.

• Roll it in the mix of rice and all purpose flour.

• Place the ball on the rolling surface and with rolling pin roll it to about 4" circle. Then place the circle on the flour mixture again flipping on both side. Place it back on the rolling surface and roll it to about 6-8" circle to desired thickness. Once you do this more often you will get the hang of it, not putting too much pressure on the chapati when rolling it with the pin. I wish I had posted a video to show you the rhythm of the entire process.

• While you are rolling your first chapati, you are heating the Skillet/tava on medium heat. Once heated, place the rolled chapati on heated skillet or tava.

• You start rolling another chapati while the one side of chapati is cooking on the Skillet/Tava on medium heat( for about 1 min).

• Flip it over to cook the other side, and cook it for about 1-2 min till this side is slightly more cooked then the first side. (while doing this you are finishing up rolling the 2nd chapati and making the ball ready for next one)

• Now turn the flame to high on second stove and place the less cooked side of chapati on the open flame, handling the chapati with a tong, flip and cook both side to desired crispiness, make sure it does not burn.

• As you start doing this process you can place the second chapati on the Skillet/Tava and repeat the entire process all over again.

• Once the first chapati is cooked on both side take it off the open flame and brush with butter or Ghee.

• You can serve them hot, I usually place them in insulated stainless steel container and once all of the chapatis are done, I cover them with paper towel and cover the container until ready to be served.

• The entire process sounds complicated, but believe me if is not, if I as a seven year old could handle it anyone can. (Having said that, this is a disclaimer that keep in mind, the times are different so don't let your seven year old try this at home)

• The chapatis can be served with variety of Indian curries or can be used as shell of any sandwich rolls.


Enjoy :)



Description of Chapati source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapati
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_Creative_Commons_Attribution-ShareAlike_3.0_Unported_License

Here are some other tips I found on this website (credit at the end of this post) that I will quote here "Is there some secret to making nice, soft chapatis, which can be easily torn with one hand on a regular basis?
Reply:
Well to start with, I am not an expert chapati-maker because I don't cook them often. Poories - yes; chapatis, well they are much harder to regulate.

First class chapati:

All these factors should be taken into consideration:

* Using the right flour and the same flour each time: The flour must be first-class Atta, imported from India or a pukka local brand.

* You must use the right amount of water in the dough, and the water temperature must be correct.

* You must utilize correct kneading procedures and knead for the correct duration.

* Resting time and place for the dough must be considered.

* You must execute the correct technique in rolling. This includes optimum thickness of the discs, using the same pin each time, knowing how much flour to dredge them in and then pat off before griddle-baking.

* Regulating the baking on the griddle: correct heat under the pan, same pan each time, time baked on each side, and the proper utensil to turn the chapati and then hold the chapati over the flame, duration on the flame.

* Finally, puffing all the air out of the chapati and correct stacking and serving.

There's a lot to consider here, and in the real world, perfect conditions do not always take place."

Recipe passed on to me by my mom to her by her mom and so on and so forth............
All Photographs by Surekha except one of with chapati on flame and tips on chapati Source: http://www.iskcon.net.au/kurma/discuss/msgReader$4568

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