Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fun in the Kitchen - Making Chapati

I absolutely love making the food that I grew to love while interning in India. Now, five years later, I am so thankful I took the time to learn from our cooks and was able to bring home a handful of my favorite recipes.

This week we made subjee (vegetables) and chapati. Those smells wafting from our kitchen bring me right back to Mussoorie :) It's amazing how smells in and of themselves can trigger so many memories!

Chapati is a staple in India that we usually ate twice a day. It's a simple whole wheat flat bread that is absolutely delicious! Indians often eat with their hands, and chapati can be torn into small piece and used to cleanly scoop up rice and beans and anything else on the menu (although Indians have no trouble digging right in with their fingers).  

The best part is that it doesn't require any special ingredients. In fact, the only two ingredients in chapati are whole wheat flour and water. We use 4 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups water, and add more flour if necessary to form a stiff dough.

Stiff dough
Then we take a small piece of dough (maybe a 1/3 cup) and roll it out thinly (think tortilla) on a floured surface. Indians can get perfectly round 100% uniform chapati every time, but any shape will do. Cook it over medium heat in a dry (no oil) cast iron skillet until it starts to get some air pockets and gets slightly browned on one side, usually a minute or two. Then we flip it and brown the second side.

Chapati cooking in skillet
And then comes the best part. When both sides are lightly browned, we place the cooked chapati over the open flame on our gas range for a second or two until it puffs up like a blowfish. Then very carefully we flip it to char the second side, cut the flame, and put it on our serving dish.

Puffed chapati that has just been flamed
Repeat this process until all the chapati are rolled and cooked. Serve with some amazing Indian food or anything else you are in the mood for. 

Steaming hot cauliflower and potato subjee

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