Chapati/Roti (Indian flat bread)
Chapati/Roti (Indian flat bread) is a staple accompaniment to other foods like curries, dhals etc. It is traditionally made out of whole wheat flour, but can be made with other grains like white millet (jowar) or pearl millet (bajra). The rotis made out of millet are called bhakris.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 2 cups of whole wheat flour (there are many brands available – I like the Aashirwaad brand after trying out the others in the market)
- Water (1 cup approximately – may vary depending on the flour used)
- Salt (to taste – 1 tsp approximately)
- Oil (1 tsp)
- Add the flour to a wide plate or bowl with salt.
- Start adding the water little by little at a time, and keep mixing the dough with your hands so that the flour and water mix well. Make sure that you keep homogenizing the flour little by little at a time while adding the water. Move on to the drier parts of the flour until all the flour has come into contact with water. Ensure that the dough is neither too firm nor too soggy at this point.
- Now try to bring in all the dough together and adjust the consistency, adding more flour (if too wet and sticky) or more water (if too dry and firm), as necessary.
- Once the flour has all come together like a ball, add the oil.
- Keep kneading the flour well, beating it and throwing it around in the bowl/plate, till it becomes soft and pliable.
- Let the dough sit for a half hour or so, covered in a vessel, so that no air comes in contact with it (exposure to air will dry it out).
- Make balls of whatever size (I make mine approximately 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter) rotis you want to make, just before rolling out the dough.
- Flatten the ball and keep a box/plate of wheat flour handy to dust the dough while rolling out the chapathi.
- Work with a rolling pin to flatten the dough, ensuring that you maintain an even thickness throughout the bread. Keep dusting with flour as the dough starts sticking to the surface. Keep removing the dough from the surface and turn it over often and dust with flour, while rolling out, so that it doesn’t end up sticking to the surface. A common rookie mistake is to make only the corners thin, while the center is inadvertently left thick. Ensure that you roll outward, starting from the center, so that all parts of the roti are even in thickness.
- Heat a tava/griddle on medium to high heat. Place the rolled out bread on the tava, when it is warm, but make ensure that the griddle is not over heated.
- When small bubble-like elevations appear (15-20 seconds), flip the roti over and let it remain for a similar amount of time.
- Now take out the roti from the griddle and transfer directly to the flame, if you have a gas stove. If you have an electric gas stove, try placing a roasting grid on top of the gas and place the roti on top of the grid for better results.
- Get the roti to slowly puff out with the heat. Keep flipping it with a pair of tongs, so that no one side gets over burned. Try pressing lightly over the already puffed out portions to help puff the roti out quickly, but make sure you do this without creating holes on the surface or burning the surface below.
- As soon as the roti has cooked, take it out on a plate and apply a smattering of ghee/clarified butter to the surface.
Sweet (wheat flour, ghee), salt (salt).
Grains are kapha increasing in general. They are nourishing and help in building tissues, increasing energy etc. (kapha qualities). The addition of ghee increases the kapha qualities even more, but ghee is tridoshic in general and is good for pittas and vatas pacification, in general. For kapha types, the quantity of ghee used can be reduced. But ghee has other benefits – it improves digestion, enhances memory and intellect and nourishes the body and mind. Wheat, with its sticky and heavy nature tends to be kapha aggravating. Since it is hard to digest, wheat can pose some problems for vatas, but the addition of ghee is good to alleviate this problem and also makes the rotis more oily/unctuous, which combats vata’s dry nature. A balanced pitta’s digestive fire should be able to handle the wheat well. Also, the heavy, cold qualities of wheat help in balancing pitta’s light and hot qualities. Addition of ghee is very good for pittas.
In general, this is a sattvic food, if made and eaten fresh. If you make the dough, refrigerate it and use it the next day, the tamasic qualities start to increase. The same holds for rotis that are made ahead, refrigerated and reheated the next day for use. Sometimes, these are unavoidable due to our fast-paced lives and using these techniques once in a while to save on time and reduce stress is not just ok, it is smart even. So, don’t stress if every once in a while, you do use leftovers. Just keeping these points in mind and keeping these practices to a minimum will help.
Cold, heavy, gross.