Chapathis

Today’s Music: Preservation by Del the Funky Homosapien and Aesop Rock

So, this is my first entry in many months. I’m working eliminating ‘life being hectic’ as a valid excuse for anything, so let’s call this post a first step.

I did juggle deleting this blog because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue writing, or if I should just wait out until inspiration struck. As it turns out, people are still reading this blog, which has inspired me to try being creative again, if not in an office right now, then in the kitchen and on the keyboard. Plus, I’m using a full kitchen now (recently moved to a new place in my neighborhood), which means more room and a full oven.

So, if you’re still subscribed or check out my blog from time to time, thank you. I promise to keep putting out posts and recipes as long as people are still reading and eating.

Alright, enough of that. Onto eating…you know, if I were to have a family crest, I think that “Onto Eating” would be on there in Yiddish or Polish or something.

Chapathi (pronounced chapat-hee) is an unleavened flatbread from the Indian Subcontinent. Many of you who have eaten at an Indian restaurant are probably familiar with the flatbread naan; naan differs from chapathi in that naan is leavened bread prepared in an oven, while chapathis, and its cousin the roti, are prepared without leavening on a hot skillet or over an open flame. I like chapathis because they’re quick to make in large batches, and normally go well with what I eat on a consistent basis anyway (curries with lentils or chickpeas, stewed vegetables, hummus, etc.). The first time I had chapathi, I was hanging out in a Sikh temple, a gurdwara, eating lentils and pakoras in their communal dining hall, the langar. I’m going to be writing more about the Sikh faith and food in the coming week, but now, onto rolling out chapathis!

While making a batch this week, I wanted to try throwing in some spices and onion; I was very pleased with the end results. For your onion chapathis, you will need:

  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour (you can use white flour if you like, but I prefer wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 small yellow or sweet onion (I used half of a large yellow)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin power
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, separated
  • Water, start with one cup and ad more as needed

First, julienne your onion into thin slices. Add them to a large bowl with your spices, salt, flour, and one tablespoon of oil. Mix with a wooden spoon that the onions are coated with flour.

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Add water one cup at a time and mix well until you end up with pliable, if somewhat chunky dough.

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Lay down a layer of flour on a wooden board or a countertop and knead the dough for a few minutes. Let it rest for a couple of minutes, then divide your dough into 10-12 pieces (or more if you want smaller chapathis). Use a rolling pin to roll one out as flat as you can, taking care not to totally crush your onion slices.

Pour your second table spoon of oil onto a pan, and set it on your burner on medium to medium-high heat for a minute or two. Use a piece of towel to grease the whole pan; your bread is not going to be fried, but the oil while help prevent too much sticking. Carefully lay your rolled-out chapathi on the pan, which should be very hot at this point. Each chapathi should only cook for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. When brown spots appear on the pan-facing side, flip the bread and allow the other side to cook.

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Ideally, these would be served immediately, but you can allow them to cool and eat them later. If letting them cool, let them rest on a wire rack, or perhaps in your oven if it is not in use. I thought these chapathis turned out very well; they were a little thicker than anticipated, but cooked all the way through. The onion softened and became very sweet during the cooking process, which made for a pleasant mingling of flavors. The spices wasn’t very prominent part of the final product, so if you want a stronger turmeric or chili taste, add more to your liking.

Next week: Sikh and You Will Find…a Hot Meal and a Cup of Tea

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2 thoughts on “Chapathis

  1. What a great recipe. None of the ingredients are hard to find–many in the house already. The description of the onions softening and melding into the dough sounds mouth-watering. Thanks for a delicious, easy, vegetarian treat to share with friends and family.
    Oh, and by the way, pretty witty narrative, too.

    H. in NY

  2. Although I am not a cook by any means, reading through your blogs, I find your detailed (and seemingly easy) descriptions of how to make these recipes – with the great and helpful photos – tantalizingly encouraging in a way I am actually considering to try to make something! This is a terrific blog for beginner – or non – cooks!
    NW of NYC

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