Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chapatis Part 2

At least, this is what I have figured out. In addition to the ingredients, you'll need the following hardware:

1) A rolling pin. I use the Indian kind, which you can find at Indian shops. It's made from one piece of wood, no revolving bits, and it's much narrower than the French/Western kind. It's very delicate at the ends, and thicker in the middle. You can try using the Western kind but you may have a little trouble making the chapati spin (see below).

2) A tavaa. Mum has an excellent one which you can see in the photo in the previous post -- her's is flat, no edges for easy access to the chapati. I don't have one and rather than get yet another pan (Bren would kill me) I use my cast iron skillet which works fine. Just don't burn yourself!

2 cups whole wheat flour (or you can buy "atta" at the Indian shoppie)
1 cup water

1) Pour flour & salt into a bowl, and slowly add water. I had a little leftover plain yoghurt in the fridge, about 2 tbsp so I added that too. Mix the water into the flour in a circular motion. If it's too sticky, add some flour. If it's too dry, sprinkle in some water. In my experience, at this point, the dough is a *little* bit sticky.

2) Roll it on the counter, and knead. I dig my knuckles into it, lengthening it out, and then fold the ends back in on each other and knead again. Usually, you only need to knead it (ha!) for about 5 minutes.

3) Put the big ol' ball o' dough back in the bowl, and cover it with clingfilm. Let it sit on the counter for about 1 hour. (If you live in a particularly dry climate, I would probably lightly drape a damp cloth over it so that it doesn't dry out).

4) Once the hour has passed, knead the dough a little again just to see how it feels. It should feel pretty elastic and soft. Set your skillet over medium heat. Pour a little oil in a ramekin or tiny bowl.

5) Separate the dough into 10 to 12 balls. Keep the dough covered with the damp cloth when you're not working with it.

6) Grab a shallow bowl and put some extra flour in it. Take one of the balls of dough and toss it in there, squeezing it with the palm of your hand into a small thick disc.

7) Grab your rolling pin. Roll out the disc until it's about 4" wide. If it sticks, sprinkle a bit of flour over it. Spread the tiniest bit of oil along the bottom edge of the circle. Fold in half, and then half again until you have a triangle.

Make sure you seal the edges shut.

8) Dip in flour again so it doesn't stick. We didn't usually flour our board; rather, we'd sprinkle flour on each side, and rub it in a bit.

9) Rolling is the trickiest part in my estimation. I should really post a video, but I'll do my best to explain. I was taught to lean a little on the right handle of the rolling pin, and let your right hand sort of move in circles over the rolling pin, whilst your left hand rolls back and forth. Can you tell that's what's happening here?!

This technique causes the chapati to spin a little so that you can roll it evenly without having to pick it up and move it. Does that make sense? Mum, any tips?

Again, make sure you're sealing the edges of the chapati as you roll; that will ensure trapped air will puff the little bugger up!

Roll it into a circle or triangle 6"-7" wide. It should be pretty thin. You can see the indentations of my hand through the dough here.

10) Flap off the extra flour so that the chapati doesn't taste dusty at the end. Flop it onto the skillet. Let it sit about 20 seconds -- you'll see it change colour a little. Flip it.

11) It should puff up a little. Dip a small spoon in your ramekin of oil, then empty whatever you've picked up back into the ramekin. Swizzle whatever oil has stuck onto the bottom of your spoon onto the chapati. Flip!

12) By now, you should hear it whistling a little, and it should puff up more. Take a clean cloth and use it to protect your fingers as you push down on the edges and any holes that have appeared through which all your precious air is escaping. The idea is that you want to plug up the holes so that the chapati puffs up even more, creating delicate layers on the inside, whilst cultivating a bit of a crispy crust on the outside.

13) Drizzle with oil in the same way on this second side. Flip once more. Repeat with the cloth technique. Your chapati should be getting spots on it -- don't let them get too dark or else it will be too crispy and will taste burnt. They should be very delicately mottled.

14) Serve! Or if you are saving them for dinner, place them in a tea-towel lined container, cover them with the towel, and cover.

15) You can eat them as is, or with some yummy Sausages a la Rose (a slightly bootleg dish Mum used to make for us as a treat, that sounds weird but is delicious! I'll post the recipe later this week). Alternatively, you can have them for breakfast with some butter and some salt, as Bren likes to eat them.

I hope you try them! Or better yet, come over and I'll make them for you.



Rosesq said...

Those are beautiful chapatis Aarth!! Do you remember having them all crushed up in a bowl of milk and some sugar, when you were very small? This was in lieu of cornflakes and milk.

Your next challenge is Dosas and I am going to send you the recipe as soon as I have a few minutes to spare.

The fishmonger just called to say he has fresh pomfrets, so Dad is off to get them. You guys are invited to fried pomfrets for dinner:)

bodaat said...

I'm salivating.

Patte said...

Wow, we will be treated to chapatis in the mountains! Hopefully, Dosas as well : )

Whoopee! I'm salivating too.

Sasafras said...

My mouth is watering already.
I can't wait to eat some sweet food and enjoy some sweet company in the mountains.
You really have been blogging up a storm.
I'll see you in 4 days-ish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

aartilla the fun said...

thanks guys!

Kir said...

the NYTimes is stealnig from your blog!

You are so ahead of the curve.

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