Note: This is the sixth of seven recipe installments, which compose a classic Northern Indian Feast. Fine Indian cuisine is not noted for its brevity. The good news is that each of Achla Karnani’s recipes may be made well in advance, including these chapatis, then reheated prior to serving. Chapatis are great served at room temperature, or hot off the griddle. You may divide the recipes amongst your friends, staging your own Indian Feast pot luck. All spices and dry ingredients are available at Indian Grocery stores, Bombay Grocers on Packard in Ann Arbor.
According to wikipedia, chapati is an Indian unleavened flatbread, also known as roti. According to Achla Karnani, chapatis are the staff of life in Northern India.
When kneading dough, it’s important to get the flour/water ratio correct.
“Chapatis are an essential element of most Indian meals and snacks. Every good Punjabi girl should be able to make perfect chapati that balloons when cooked.” Achla says. “I know cooks who can’t get them to puff,” she continued. “I still can’t figure out why they have problems; they’re simple to make.” Try telling us that.
Making chapatis were, unquestionably, the most entertaining part of our cooking class. And though there were only a few ingredients in the recipe, of all the recipes for me, the chapati was the most challenging to master.
We each took a turn at the griddle; some puffed, some didn’t. My excuse for not getting my chapati to puff the first time is I was too busy taking photographs to focus on Achla’s technique: the flip of the chapati and the pressing down of the bubbles with a spatula.
Achla coached us on the sidelines as we flipped, pressed and cheered each other on.
When kneading dough, it's important to get the flour/water ratio correct.
Roll dough into balls.
Roll dough balls into disks.
Why won't mine puff?
Just press the bubbles!
"This, Peter, is how it's done."
Success at last!
Wasn't that easy?
Additionally, here are some video links Peter, one of the cooking class participants, sent me regarding the “art” of chapati making.
This first one — guys making chapati then tossing them across the kitchen — was far more amusing than watching footballs being tossed across the field during the Michigan and Alabama football games last weekend: You Tube Video
“Friends in Singapore tell me they toss the “parathas” which are really chapatis. So when I offered to make parathas for breakfast they were expecting a show. They were quite disappointed that I just made them on the griddle,” Achla said after watching the above video.
Achla tells me that in the north, every neighborhood has a tandoor – you can take your own dough and have them make it for you, or just buy them. She says they only make them in the fall and winter, when it isn’t blazing hot outside.
Tomorrow I’m posting my last recipe of our Indian feast, a recipe for Black Bean Dal. If you’re a fan of the kaleidoscopic cuisine of India, particularly Northern India, you may be interested in reviewing them.
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