The other day, quite by accident, I stumbled on this video, about a family, the Pereiras, sharing their heritage through making bread from their native land. Their kids join them, and in the spirit of togetherness with a touch of competition, everyone makes their chapati the way they prefer.
The recipe seemed fairly straightforward, so on a Spring Break morning, I decided to give it a try.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil (I melted my butter for this step.)
3/4 cup hot water (or as needed for proper dough consistency; mine required a little less)
More butter for spreading (not shown)
First, mix together the dry ingredients. Then add the butter or oil, as well as the hot water, and mix until the dough is soft and elastic, but not sticky. (Because it is far simpler to add more hot water, rather than try to fix the mess after you've added too much, add less than the recipe calls for at first, then add more when it becomes obvious you need more to make the entire mixture stick together.)
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface to make it smooth.
Divide the dough into about 10 balls and let them sit for 5 minutes. In the mean time, heat up a skillet over medium heat until hot, then grease lightly. (Yes, there are more than 10 balls in the picture below. I made 1.5 recipes' worth, but then decided it would be too much of a pain to divide it into 15 pieces. 12 is so much simpler to figure out without using a kitchen scale.)
Roll one of the balls of dough thin, like a tortilla, then spread softened butter over the dough. This is simpler if you spread the softened butter from the center toward the edges. By the time I was finished, between the butter used in the recipe itself and the butter used to spread over the flattened dough, I had gone through almost 2 sticks of the stuff. (Remember, though, I made a slightly larger batch. I expect a single batch would only take, oh, less than a stick and a half.)
Fold the buttered dough onto itself to introduce layers into the dough. This is where I found it far simpler to use a square shape than to use a circle. In the video above, each member of the family has a preference for their "perfect" chapati, some preferring circular shapes and the mother preferring the square. I chose the square.
The family in the video sometimes sprinkles sugar over the butter before folding it. I made one like that for my husband, who requested it. He said the sugar didn't end up making the chapati sweet, as he had expected. Rather, it just acted as a counter to the salt which was in the butter. (I'd prefer to use unsalted butter, but at our sources, buying salted butter in bulk is just too good of a deal to justify the extra expense of buying unsalted in single pound packages.)
I also found that folding each corner into the center of the dough made it easier to maintain a nice square shape, instead of ending up looking like . . . well, I'm not sure exactly what. The Pereiras fold theirs in more folds, but as I couldn't get the video to play on my iPad at the time I wanted to look it up, I just winged it. (Turned out delicious, anyway.)
|No, this is not rerolled yet. I forgot to take a picture of that step. Sorry!|
After folding, reroll the dough to a thinner size, although not as thin as the original size, or you'll end up with butter all over the place. Then place it into your heated and greased skillet.
Cook the chapati until there are brown spots, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Or, in my case, closer to a minute and a half.) Flip the chapati and cook on the other side, as well.
The recipe says that you can make it fluffy by heating the finished bread over a direct flame, holding the bread in a wire basket. I considered doing this, because we cook over propane flames, but finally decided to forego this step.
The chapatis end up flaky and very tasty.
You can dress up your chapati, if you prefer. My husband likes to put homemade peach jam on his, but the Junior Taste Tester preferred honey. Me? I just love the flaky, buttery goodness, which as far as I am concerned, needs no embellishment.
Next time, I'll have the girls help out, now that I know to some degree what I am doing. Then perhaps we will follow the Pereiras' example in having fun family evenings just baking and customizing our individual chapatis.