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Friday, April 17, 2009

How to make soft chapatis - the 34,101st recipe for beginners

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.


shamie said...

thank you for the tip on the soft chappatis ...simple and clear

vasantha said...

You are welcome Shamie. Were you able to use this recipe?

meena said...

I appreciate your efforts in penning down this brief description on how to make soft chapatis.. will sure try it out.. i have also made umpteen no. of disastrous , atrocious chapatis.. yet haven't given up my quest for making better ones continues..however a few doubts still linger in my mind.. does refridgerated dough left overnight leave behind any odour???

DEEPAK said...

Thanks for your post..will be giving it a try later this week to make softer chapatis..

vasantha said...

@meena: No, the refrigerated dough doesn't leave any odour. At most, I notice there is slight change in color and thats it.. I don't find the taste changing at all too.

Echo's Kitchen said...

hi, you know what.. I am a chinese and married to a north Indian, it tooks me 3 years to make homely soft chapatis.

My few pennies of thoughts:

1. The brand you use is CANADA wheat, thus needed alot more kneading and slightly more water than the Indian Atta needed, as Canada or America wheat have higher gluten contain.

2. Knead, and knead and knead, its the stimulation on the dough that make it more comprehensive, thus, soft... I use my bread machine now, as it is clean and neat!

3. It is important to wait for about 20 minutes before start making chapati, this is what we called "sitting" in baking term. it allowed the water content to sink in further.

4. Finally, it is he heat, it should always be medium and DO NOT over toast chapati, i normally give each one like 30-40 seconds...

You are welcome to come visit my blog at :

vasantha said...

Thanks for the additional tips Echo's Kitchen

KKushi said...

I'm so glad there are people like you who take the effort to write this stuff down. I learnt about the milk tip from a friend recently.. It really really helps... But I don't know about keeping it in the fridge... Whenever i do that ... the atta sort of turns a weird color and that worries me... So i prefer fresh. Thanks for the tip on using a damp cloth... will try it soon...

Savitha said...

I have a food processor that kneads dough, do you think I can use this knead the dough for 15 or so mins ?

Zahra said...

Thank you,thank you,thank you...just what I needed for my new found enthusiasm to get organised and make my chappatis for the lunch box on sudays:-)

Zahra said...

ps. I'd go with Chapathi - I think thats the traditional way of spelling it in the south.

NRIGirl said...

Hi: It is funny, I found your blog online while searching for "How o make chapati soft?"...

Thank you for your instructions. Will follow the same and keep you posted in an hour or so...


Prashanth said...

Thanks for the tips. I tried it our and it worked great. One of the readers had a concern about leaving the dough in the fridge overnight. I wrap the dough in a food grade plastic wrap to keep it moist.

I also use Kitchen Aid Artisan food processor to mix the dough. Makes the dough very light and fluffy.

Teena said...

Your tips are great, I will surely follow them

vasantha said...

Thanks for the encouragement all

Stupid Cow said...


thank you from the bottom of my heart for the tips and tricks and treats. My chapatis were rock hard earlier and now they are really soft. Kudos to you !!
things that worked for me, in case anyone else is in a similar state
1. used hot milk instead of water
2. kept the dough overnight, these were the softest
3. waited till tava was hot enough
4. flipped chapatis only twice once each on either side.
I'm yet to take the chapatis for lunch cos i am afraid if they'll not turn out soft during lunchtime. But, I've certainly improved, thanks to you :)
Keep up the good work !!

theresa said...

thanks a lot. i had just typed in the how to make soft chapati question when i opened your blog first , and you ve really saved a lot of time for me

Saum said...

Thanks for your blog ! I tried it out and worked great :)

Sarah said...

Lovely! Thank you! I have tried adding a bit of baking soda to the dough but you need lots of practice with that and make extremely thin chapatis as otherwise they become thick and spongy when you cook them. I'll replace the baking soda with milk now :) how much milk would I need?

A tip for storing dough in the fridge, wrap it in greased cling film! There's no odour or change of colour and the dough stays fresh :)

Shaq said...

TQ for the tip.

I had been trying to make soft chapati and the last batch I cooked them, I used only milk for the liquid. This does add to the softness and also to the flavour. As for the oil, I used cooking olive oil (do not use extra virgin oil because the high heat would change the property of the oil).

I did knead the dough but not long enough and had never leave it overnight. I also found out that u can use yoghurt for the liquid. Will try that soon.

Rachna Anil said...

I have followed all your steps and my chapathi dough is in the fridge. Tomorow morning I will be making chapathis and will post my finding.

anu said...

Thanks for the tips...It was very really helpful...But I have a doubt
Does the type of pan we use to make chapathi also makes a difference in getting the chapathi soft or hard??

The Chapati Kid said...

You were my first hit when I googled "chapatis came out hard". :-) Don't think I need to check out 34,000 other sites now. Thanks so much! I hope this works. Still have a bit of flour on my hands from my failure 20 minutes ago, so...

pinkalif said... was really really very helpful....the toughest part of cooking..

ghimie88 said...

Hi thank you so much the original writer of this chapati post and echo's kitchen- finally someone understands my chapati/roti making challenges! I'm a Chinese who loves Indian curry and chapati. My Indian coworker makes cottony soft chapati that I cannot duplicate and mine don't puff up like a full pillow as well :(( She's kind enough to often give me a couple of her chapati but I love them so much I would like to make myself SUCCESSFULLY and for anyone who enjoys chapati also. So I'm going to try both your methods today. What I'm learning from you that I didn't learn from my Indian friends n online recipes n YouTube- MILK, HOT/WARM WATER and LOTS OF KNEADING! I'm so excited even though I'm not hopeful my chapati today with turn out perfect like my Indian friend's. But if I keep studying and experiencing, I should get it some day, right? I'm been trying for years.. taken breaks from trying and always heft back to trying again and again.. I even thought about going to my friend's house to learn but your explanations are much clearer. Thank you!!

Jaya Jaya said...

You can also add a little mashed potato to the dough - keeps it very soft for a longer time.