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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Getting the Chapatti Right!

Arch had once suggested doing a post on soft chapattis, and I had conveniently forgotten about it (read, chickened out - it is a recently acquired talent).  Chapattis are so easily underestimated, and so difficult to do it right. The science of it is simple: Keep the moisture in.It is the “How” that is kind of confusing.

I seem to have tried many variations and finally settled on one. For starters, here is a list of the tried options:

  1. The ghee (clarified butter) paratha:

      • Take a ball of the dough and roll it to about half the size of a chapatti.

      • Spread a teaspoon of clarified butter evenly over the surface of the chapatti.

      • Now fold it in half, and then again in half to form a quarter.

      • Use the rolling pin to form a uniform and thin paratha. Needless to say, it won’t be as thin as a normal one.

      • While putting it on the tava, keep pressing it gently with a spoon so that it is well cooked.

  2. The oiled dough: While making the chapatti dough, add about two teaspoonful of oil. This makes the dough very soft.

  3. The vegetable roll: To be fair, this is a coward’s way out. If one is very doubtful about the chapatti coming out well, the side-dish can be rolled into it and stored. Ideal for lunch boxes, the chapatti absorbs the moisture of the vegetables and becomes very soft.

I have tried all three, but have finally settled on a method that suits and serves me well. It is a multiple step approach:

  1. The consistency of the dough: Contrary to normal expectations, the dough should be soft and slightly sticky. We tend to worry that it’ll end up creating trouble while rolling, but it can be adjusted by adding the flour (either to the dough or to the chapatti being rolled). If the dough is too hard, all the moisture is absorbed when we cook it resulting in dry and hard chapattis.

  2. Resting time: Perhaps the most common mistake one makes is giving the dough absolutely no resting time. Try giving it at least half an hour to settle before cooking.

  3. The Fluff: Needless to say, the softness is directly related to the ballooning of the chapatti while cooking. I have never had trouble with it, so am not sure what the reason for that is, but I am guessing it is the uniformity of the rolled chapatti, and of course, its thickness. Thinner, the better.

  4. The Storage: If all else fails, this ought to work. Even if the chapatti is hard while cooking, when they are stacked one over the other, they end up absorbing each other’s moisture (through steam) and become soft. The roundabout (and technically sound) way is to cover them in a thin cotton cloth to hold the moisture in. The lazy part of me is content on stacking them one over the other, and then inverting the bunch and storing it in a utensil in FIFO (First In, First Out) order.

If you have any other methodologies do let me know in comments.

1 comment:

Dips said...

Sounds great! Im terribile at chapatis! The sticky dough idea sounds good