Chapati, phulka and roti

Chapati, phulka and roti

By
From
I Love India
Makes
10
Photographer
Martin Poole

Chapati, phulka and roti are all names for the same basic, everyday wholewheat flatbreads many Indians eat with their meals. The breads add a chewy, nutty element and are also a perfect way of enveloping your curry and vegetables. They really do add to the meal and are quick and easy to make. At home we like to cook them so they puff up and one side crisps up – as in the method below – but if that seems a bit too much, just cook them on both sides until they have some little brown spots on them. You can find chapati (atta) flour in most large supermarkets, but if you can’t get a hold of any, use equal quantities of wholewheat and plain flour. The breads can be made in advance and reheated, wrapped in foil, in a medium oven. We never put salt in our breads as they are used to mop up well-seasoned sauces.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
300g chapati flour, plus more to dust, (or use half wholewheat and half plain flour)
salt, (optional)
200-240ml water

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt (if using) into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Slowly drizzle in most of the water and, using your hand, draw the flour into the centre, mixing all the time. You may not need all the water, as flour absorbs different amounts of water depending on its age and the moisture content in the air. The dough should be just slightly sticky and almost squeak as you knead it, but it will firm up.
  2. Knead for 8–10 minutes or until the dough seems elastic and most of the joints and lines have worked themselves out. If it feels hard, sprinkle some more water over it and knead it in. Then place in a bowl, cover with a damp dish towel and leave for 30 minutes. By now it should be soft and easy to work with.
  3. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and roll each into golf ball-sized rounds; then cover again with a damp dish towel. Flour the work surface and rolling pin. Roll each ball into thin 13–15cm circles. The best way to do this is to keep rolling in one direction, turning the dough a quarter of a circle after each roll to get a round shape.
  4. Heat a tava (or non-stick frying pan) over a high heat until quite hot. Toss a chapati from one hand to the other to remove any excess flour, then place on the tava. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until small bubbles appear on the underside, 10–20 seconds, then turn. Cook this side until it too has small, dark beige spots.
  5. The best way to puff a roti is to place it directly over an open flame (with the brown spotted side on the top), using tongs. It will puff immediately; leave it there for 10 seconds until dark spots appear. I like to move it around the flame, for even puffing up. Place on a plate. Repeat with the rest. If you only have an electric hob, press a cooked roti down gently on the heat source; as you press one area the rest should puff up. Then tackle the next area. This way the roti should puff up all over.
  6. Keep the bread warm by wrapping in a napkin or some foil while you make the rest and leave in a low oven until ready to eat.
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