Chapati time

Had a lesson in making chapatis this week…

James and Pauline came for lunch on Tuesday and I went to buy flour. This was the deal: Pauline would show me how to make chapatis and then we’d all eat them. James prowled my house hungrily while Pauline and cooked and talked about hair-styles and relationships, in the kitchen.

The recipe is deceptively simple. Just take an unspecified amount of nap hal wheat flour, add a spoonful of sugar and a pinch of salt and mix, then add an unspecified amount of warm water and knead until the dough forms a beautiful cohesive lump that has just the right consistiency. (I don’t know, practise I suppose). Leave that to rest for ten minutes (or less when there are hungry men in the house, teaching themselves to juggle and looking through all your photographs), pour over an unspecified amount of oil and knead again (or was that before resting the doung? before I think, oh heck! why didn’t I take notes?) then pull small lumps off, one at a time, and roll them out on a floured borad. For extra texture in the finished bread cover one of these with oil and roll it up, then tie the roll in a knot to form a new lump and roll that out. Then place the flat breads in a hot dry hot pan to dry them out then fry them with a little oil for an unspecified amount of time until they are done. Can be eaten immediately or stored and re-heated later.

African chapatis are thicker than Indian ones I have experienced, the knotting method gives them a layered texture and introduces more oil.

Delicious with, for example, a stew of green grams, spring onions and tomatoes (are green grams the same thing as mungbeans? Chris, do you know?) or as a snack with tea: spread with peanut butter!

I’m still enjoying the ones we made on Tuesday, it remains to be seen whether I can make them myself or whether I end up producing some pankake of my own invention.

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