Final Friday Feedstuffs



It has been quite a gap since the last of these - due to intercontinental drift and not having a kitchen to call my own.  Technically, I still don't, but it draws ever closer.  In my sister's kitchen, however, I did create some chapattis and curry for the family then I remembered once being asked about the making of the Indian flat breads.  So here we go.

(BTW - if you would like to see the other recipes in the series, press the MenU button in the labels listing.)

CHAPATTI  MASTERCLASS

Bread is a staple in human-kind's diet in virtually every culture.  It's form may differ, but grain-based gravy-sopper-uppers are present in all sorts of cuisine.  A problem that has arisen in "Western" diet, is the highly processed flour varieties, exaggerating glutens. Things are improving on that front, especially as more 'ethnic' grains become very readily available even on the supermarket shelves.

The Indian flour of choice is ATTA.  It is an ancient grain variety, little modified.  If for any reason you cannot obtain this, a strong wholemeal bread flour makes a reasonable substitute.

The Hindi word 'roti' covers all breads.  Chapattis are the basic recipe.

For eight x 8" breads, use two cups/8ozs of atta and a good pinch of salt.

Use your right hand only and add in just enough water to create a softly kneadable dough. Continue kneading for 5-8 minutes.  It should leave sides of bowl clean but not be so dry as to have crumbs falling away.  (Play dough texture comes to mind...&*?)  Let this dough rest for at least 15 minutes to one hour, covered with a damp tea towel. I have prepared it a day ahead and kept in fridge, but this is only to be done if preparing for a major dinner party!!
Google Images
Google Images
Now, the real excitement takes place. 

Prepare yourselves well. Have a heavy, clean tava ready on the hob.  If you don't have one of these cast iron flat plates, then a good frying pan will do.  A chopping board covered in clingfilm will make a good substitute for the traditional chapatti board.  The traditional rolling pin is thin and has a slight thickening at the centre.  A standard rolling pin will do the job, but it is certainly more difficult to maintain the circular shape and apply appropriate pressure - I experimented by using a porridge 'spirtle' and it worked brilliantly! So if you cannot source the correct items, these are your options.

Have dry flour on hand for dusting and rolling.  No fat is used for plain chapatti, but if you wish, a few drops of ghee on the tava will add flavour.

Knead the dough once more as a whole, form an even ball, then divide into eight.  One at a time take each part and roll into a ball, then put on board and flatten slightly with palm of hand.  Then apply the rolling pin, using a rotational style to ease out a circle of approx eight inches in size and which is about 2mm thick.

This is the part which takes practice and builds skill and has the most effect on the end result. Did you get that? Practice makes perfect!!  

If your dough has been too damp, it will stick and require more dusting flour. If it is too dry it will not have sufficient elasticity and result in heavy breads.  Anyway, that said, by the time your first chapatti is rolled the tava should be well hot (about level '4' on the hob knob...)  You are seeking a strong moderate heat.  Lift the bread onto the plate and begin rolling your next bread.  Keep an eye on the pan. Have a clean damp dishcloth handy.  As bubbles appear, tap them down with the cloth lightly.  It should not puff too early.  Flip the bread.  It ought to be golden on the underside.  Now it will puff a bit more.  Keep that under control until the second side is browned, then flip back and allow to balloon.
























Move the cooked bread into a basket lined with baking paper and a clean teacloth, which can be folded over to keep the contents warm. Quickly drop in the next roti and as it cooks, roll the next...

Aur Khanna!!

Next month, variations on the theme...

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