I’ve been really blessed to meet so many amazing people since I started this blog. People are happy to share their cooking ideas and recipes all the time and more often than ever does the topic of conversation with complete strangers, new and old friends and my family turn to healthy food, ethnic cuisine and just getting back to basics when it comes to bringing everyone around the table for a meal to remember.
I was invited to the home of a Pakistani family who lives in the Chicago suburbs so that I could learn and share with you how to make homemade roti, or bread, also known as chappati. Chappati is an unleavened flat bread that is dry cooked over flame and not stuffed or layered with ghee (clarified butter) like the another popular Indian-style flat bread called paratha.
Having many friends of South Asian descent, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of homemade chappati and have watched these home chefs whip them up so fast it was difficult to follow the intricacies involved in making the perfect circle or the perfect width of bread, especially at a busy time like iftar or suhoor when they’re made pretty much at the last minute to serve them fresh and hot.
I went to the home of Aunty S. (Aunty is a term used out of respect for elders in the south Asian community, even if unrelated to you) who taught me how to make the perfect homemade chappati. This is a woman with years of experience and a mission to make every piece of bread just right– and she did that when I was there to watch. *Note: her family likes their bread a little on the larger side than what some people may be used to, though the taste to me is incredibly unmistakable as the perfect chappati.
Aunty S. chooses only the best whole wheat atta (flour) because it makes the best bread. Great motto to live by. She adds a little salt then vegetable oil, but you can also add the same amount of ghee as you would oil instead.
She pours about a cup of lukewarm water into the bowl for every 2 cups of flour. The dough is then blended using the dough hook on a stand mixer. Of course you could also do this by hand, but it would take a very long time to get it nice and soft and free of bubbles or air pockets. You’d have good arms at the end, though.
The result is this beautiful ball of whole wheat dough just waiting to be rolled and twirled and fired up.
Extra flour is kept nearby for dipping during the rolling process
My camera couldn’t keep up with how fast Aunty S. rolls the dough with a rolling pin, getting it perfectly flat and free of bubbles or air pockets. It’s also perfectly round, which she shows me how to do in the picture below.
After rolling, she picks up the circle of dough and makes a sort of mushroom cap form, pushing the dough from the bottom. She then twirls it really fast to smooth it out and to stretch it so that it will roll out nice and large without ripping the dough. This twirling of the chappati is a skillful art. I tried it and without any practice beforehand, I wasn’t nearly as fast.
This gorgeous chappati steals the show over the blue flame- couldn’t help thinking how much it reminded me of a flour tortilla. I simply love when it gets the fire marks all over it and especially when it puffs up with air- that is so much fun to watch and smell!
Wating on the table was this lovely chole or chickpea salad with tomatoes and cilantro, to which they added masala (a mixture of dried ground Indian spices)
And these amazing fresh samosas filled with vegetables. I was not shy to enjoy this midday ‘snack’ that I called a true part of my work day…
These beautiful flat breads stole the show, but the real celebrity was the woman behind the masterful art of making them. God bless her for sharing the recipe, making them with a smile and serving them to guests and family throughout her life.
Homemade Chappati (Indian Flat Bread)
Makes 4 large pieces of bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
1 cup lukewarm water
Use a stand mixer to gently combine the flour, salt, oil and water.
Remove from the mixer and make dough with your hands. Alternatively, keep the dough in the mixture changing the attachment to the dough hook once the ingredients have been initially combined.
Knead on a floured surface for 2-3 minutes. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic.
Rotate the dough with your hands, separating it into equal parts and creating a sort of mushroom cap about 4 inches in diameter. Work with the dough to eventually make balls of equal size. Dip each ball into flour.
Knead out the dough to a large circular shape.
Use the rolling pin to press the middle of the dough or else it will not cook evenly. Place each one separately on an ungreased hot comal or iron flat pan for about 1 minute, pressing around the edges while rotating at the same time.
Transfer each piece of roti to an open flame to finish up the cooking and generate a nice browning effect.
Fold each piece and keep warm in a basket with cloth napkins or towels to retain the heat.
Tell us what dish is particularly nostaligic to you as being part of the Ramadan suhoor or iftar? If you didn’t grow up with a Ramadan food tradition, have you started one at home?
UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed
Deadline is August 22, 2011 (12:01 am)
Your answer in the comments section of this post will enter you into the giveaway for FIVE FREE Saffron Road halal frozen, redeemable at Whole Foods Markets AND a $100 Whole Foods gift card, redeemable at any U.S. Whole Foods stores.
Coupons will only be sent to U.S. addresses, as they are redeemable at Whole Foods Markets in the United States.
US Sweeps will randomly choose a winner selected from those who follow the giveaway eligibility guidelines.
Giveaway ends at 12:01 am on August 22, 2011.
To Enter the Giveaway:
*please note: if you have already subscribed and/or signed up to the pages below, there’s no need to do those things again.
1) Leave a relevant comment after this post that answers the question above.
2) Subscribe to the MHK Monthly Newsletter
3) “Like” the Whole Foods Market Facebook Page
4) “Like” the Saffron Road Facebook Page
5) Subscribe to the Whole Story blog.
Entries (comments plus other requirements) must be received by 12:00 am on August 22, 2011
(please note: this is not a printable coupon)