So.. about 3 weeks ago I started my quest in the land of chapati making. Why.. you may wonder, well.. coming from a rice eating state of AP, chapatis and rotis were not a regular item on the menu in our house, but lately I have realized the health effects this may have and wanted to replace rice with the healthier option of Whole Wheat Chapatis. So...I decided to have me-made chapatis for dinner everyday. My memories of my previous attempts which ended in crispy or sometimes hard leather like chapatis did scare me a bit, but this time I was determined to put in more effort and give it my 100% for at least 2 weeks before giving it all up again. I even thought of another option of developing a taste for crispy chapatis viewing them just like the mexican hard tacos, but that idea didn't go too far and I had no option but to learn making soft chapatis.
So, my first step was to go to Google and type: 'How to make soft chapathis?' I was prompted by the spell-checker and learnt that the correct spelling is 'Chapati' and not 'Chapathi'. Really...I am still not too sure, but Google says it, so it must be correct :-)
Anyway, my google search resulted in about 34,100 results and after reading a few, I realized there are some very elaborate recipes which pretty much nullify the health effects of going with whole wheat chapatis by adding butter to the dough or some such thing. Then there are other recipes that are just way too complicated for me to follow with a number of different ingredients that need to be precisely measured, kneaded, etc. Finally, I found a set of "least common denominator" instructions that most of the recipes included and I decided to go with those. Now, its been about 17 days since I started and I have been able to consistently make soft chapatis that stay soft for 24 hrs and beyond. This post is my attempt at not just becoming the 34,101st result, but to help a beginner chapati maker like myself with some simple/easy tips that he/she can master in a short amount of time.
So, here you go (pay special attention to the ones in italics):
1. I used the Laxmi Brand Whole Wheat Flour (nothing added)
2. Take 2 cupts of the flour, 1/2 teaspoon of Norton salt
3. Some Hot Water
4. Some milk * - Definitely makes a difference. Without this, I didn't get them as soft
5. 2 teaspoons of oil
6. Knead the flour into dough * - in the end, the dough should not be sticking to your hands. If it does, add more flour and it should be almost like chewing gum. Knead at least for 15mins
7. Keep the dough aside for at least 30 mins with a little damp wash cloth covered on it. What worked even better is when I made the dough in large quantity and stored it in the Fridge overnight. The chapatis came out even softer next day onwards
8. When you are ready to make chapatis, put the tawa on the stove and let it heat up
9. Make balls - You will need to try couple of times before fixing on a size that works for you
10. Roll into chapati - not too thick or too thin
11. Wait for tawa to be fully hot * - this is very important and made a difference.
12. Put the rolled chapati on the tawa
13. Wait couple of minutes and you will notice very small bumps and then turn to other side * - if this takes longer because the tawa is not hot enough in step 11, the chapati ends up being more harder and crispy like papad
14. On this side, use a damp cloth or paper towel and press around, while the chapati puffs
15. After all the chapati has puffed, turn to other side and repeat step 14
16. You can store in a hot box/casserole now as is or apply just little oil and store * - Oil didn't make much difference to the softness, but does a bit to the taste and feel
That's it.. Now, if I have ready dough in the fridge, about 5-6 chapatis which is what we need for one meal in our house takes about 20mins or less. Now, I am motivated to keep this going hoping I can always find 20mins before dinner to make yummy me-made whole wheat chapatis.
Whether I have mastered it or not, only time will tell, but I am pretty confident that if I keep doing what I am doing now, I will get soft chapatis in the end.
Hope these instructions will prove useful to someone who doesn't want to go with the other time-tested options of buying them from a store or someone else.
I know it has been just few days and so I cannot consider myself an expert. Please drop me a line if you have tried these tips and the result has been different or if you think I was just plain lucky in getting them soft.