The art of making chapatis


A typical South-Indian, I always believed that chapatis are best made by our excellent North Indian neighbours. It was only after marriage and setting up our home, that I realised we could do it as well.

First , take some aata (aata, not maida), say about 6-7 scoops. Of course some of it falls on the table, and you need to mop it up, while swearing at it. Add a little salt, half a cup of hot water, and start mixing the dough. Then, since the water is not enough, add another cup, and keep mixing. Suddenly you realise that the dough seems way too watery, so you add scoop after scoop of aata until the dough becomes a little manageable. Experiment spooning some curd, thinking it will make the dough soft. Since the entire dough is now a sticky, gooey mess, just add more aata and finally, you will end up with the perfect dough, not too soft and not too hard. The litmus test is to put stick your finger (the fore-finger please) into the dough, and removing it, finding none of the dough sticking to it.

Then, place a tava (preferably non-stick) on the burner, and start rolling out the chapatis. First take a ball of dough, and press it down, then sprinkle some aata on it, and keep rolling. When you lift it, to roll in the other direction, you will find that it sticks to the base (of the table or the “kallu” on which you roll). That’s all a part of the game..just tear it off the base, and when it rips, roll it up again into a ball, and re-start the rolling process.

Now is the interesting part – you will realise that you have indeed learnt something from your school days. “Geography”. You will find that the chapatis morph into maps of various countries (my all-time favourite is Australia), some which you are familiar with, and some countries that you have never seen before. Never mind. Just keep up the good work. In the interim, a smell of something burning will gently waft through and hit your nose, when you will realise that it is the empty chapati tava. Then you hurriedly dump the chapati on it (don’t worry if the map changes shape slightly, global warming is always causing this).

An attempt at multi-tasking at this stage may lead to a conical chapati being rolled out, while the Australia map develops black craters. Anyway, make the best of the situation, by positioning the cone as a “heart-shaped chapati” to woo your spouse who returns tired and stressed from work. The craters may be scraped off.

Oh, with regard to the chapati on the tava, once bubbles appear on one side, turn it on the other side and wait for more bubbles. Once they appear (ignore bubbles that escape through the well-ventilated chapatis), press the chapati with a cloth to force it to “puff-up”. In case it still doesn’t puff, sprinkle finely chopped onions and tomatoes, and a little pepper and offer your very own ‘masala papad’ as a starter.

Phew, now that all the maps, chapatis and papads are ready to be served, fold the really unrecognizably-shaped chapatis in such a way that they appear as neat semi-circles. After all, presentation does impact appetite. Bon appetito!

By the way, this method of making chapatis will surely lead to weight-loss. Nobody will ask for a second serving, and your family can lose weight without having to exercise 🙂

P.S: For critics – the subject of this blog is only “the art of making chapatis” and not “the art of making Perfect chapatis”. So, you can’t really blame me for the above patented recipies and method, can you ?!

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27 thoughts on “The art of making chapatis

  1. Dear Pal,

    I had a great time reading your article and i could visualise me doing the same way some years back. Nostalgic, of course!!! and hilarious too.

    Keep up the good work

  2. Nice writeup,,,, yes I guess that is one milestone all of us pass throught expect for the extremely gifted ones… or should i say those who couldnt learn to make maps out of chapathi…….

    made my day…thanks

  3. Good one Pallavi.

    I think you can write a book on “Indian Recipes for Dummies”.

    I will try this week-end. If it does not come properly, will call you. Pls keep some chapatis (and subji) ready for me.

  4. Hey Pallavi….I can manage everything else excepting chapattis….mine either turn out to be very thick or they become thinner than papads. Chapattis are, I think, my nemesis in cooking or maybe my equivalent of kryptonite. Btw I enjoyed reading your blog (came over from Anu’s blog). Blogrolling you

  5. There are days,w hen I believd chappathis are exclusively North Indian food and teased my mom on her chappathi making ability,,

    Well When I went there! I knew my mom was the best…..

    Global warming! that was superb!!

    Do educate us on morre exotic food items..

  6. Oh Pallavi… u spoke the words of my heart. These days I don’t run away from making chapatis any more because my beloved food processor is a great aid in kneading the dough 🙂 And yes, I’m making slow-and-steady attempts at rolling out the perfect circular chapati too.

  7. No ma I never did really try the roti maker cos I am quite an expert at rolling out rotis nowadays (would rather roll it out by hand regardless of shape) :p and am rather fast at it too… [:d] dont mean to gloat !

  8. I’m convinced that in this field, one either has the expertise, or one hasn’t—practice does NOT make perfect in this case! A fellow atta-cartographer (I roll out various maps too!)

    1. Hi Varun,
      Thanks for dropping by and being kind enough to leave your comment. And you know what? Whenever you do try to make chapatis, this is most likely the way it will turn out 😉 So good luck, and please return to let us know your tryst with the rotis.
      Cheers…

    1. @ Jenni: Apologies, for such a late response! I remember visiting your blog the same day and leaving a comment, but I guess I forgot to respond here!

      @ Bala: Thank you SO MUCH! I am still going through this 🙂 My cookery expeditions all turn out this way!

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