Oh boy, I could write an essay on how to make super soft chapati! I’ve been recipe testing for months, trying to figure out the best way to get the chapatis to be super soft and pliable, without drying out. But before I explain the in’s and out’s of chapati making, let’s talk about the basics.

how to make super soft chapati 3

What exactly is chapati?

Chapati, or Roti, is a staple Indian flatbread that’s made with whole-wheat flour called Atta. While it may not be as well-known as naan outside of India, it’s basically the north Indian equivalent of French baguette. No meal would be complete without chapati or roti.

In India it’s eaten with any curry, vegetable subzi, rice, or lentils, and it can be served salty or sweet (drizzle it in honey and butter for breakfast and it’s divine). It’s also the key to learning how to eat with your hands when you’re a foreigner, as you can fold the chapati into a little triangle and use it to scoop up your food.

So you might be wondering, what’s the big deal about making soft chapati if it’s such a simple flatbread?

Things to consider when making super soft chapati

There are so many elements that come into play when making chapati.

  • Flour brand: Firstly, there’s what brand of Atta, or whole-wheat flour, you use. I personally like Pillsbury and Aashirwad, as they tend to produce the softest results. Whatever you do, don’t make chapatis with standard whole-wheat flour as they will come out very dry and flaky. Depending on the brand of Atta you use, you may need to add a bit of extra oil, water, or even a spoonful of yogurt to help soften the dough. Also, try to use Chakki Atta, which is stone-ground for extra soft chapatis.
  • Water: the more water you can incorporate into the dough, the more steam will be created when the chapati is cooking, the higher the chances it will rise and puff up while it cooks. And do you want that to happen? Oh yes, you most definitely do!
  • Oil: not everyone adds oil to their chapati dough, but I like to as I find it helps bind the ingredients together. I use standard sunflower oil but you can also add melted ghee.
  • Yogurt: like I said, depending on your brand of Atta, you might need to add a tablespoon of plain or Greek yogurt to help add moisture to your dough.
  • Dough thickness: Roll your dough out too thick and it won’t puff up, too thin and it will become flaky. So what’s the perfect thickness? You’ll need to do several tests yourself, in your own kitchen with your own dough and heat source, to figure out exactly what thickness is perfect. You’re going for something that’s a little bit thicker than a French crepe and much thinner than a pancake.
  • Resting time: you’ll want to rest your dough in a covered bowl for at least 10 minutes to help the gluten relax.
  • Heat: you want to cook your chapatis on a medium-hot, cast-iron or heavy non-stick skillet. Too hot and the chapatis will burn, too cold and they’ll become dry and flaky. It will definitely take a couple of tries (or many more!) to get the heat just right.

How to make super soft chapati: the basics

Now that we’ve covered all the different variables that might cause you to screw up your chapatis, let’s talk about how you can make super soft chapati or roti that will knock your socks off. (FYI, my 7-year-old son follows this technique and even he can make puffy, soft chapatis, so trust me: YOU CAN TOO!)

  1. Mix the ingredients together with your fingers and slowly incorporate enough water until your dough is soft and not sticky.
  2. Let the dough rest. Ideally, in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel, for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  3. Roll out little circles of dough about the size of a golf ball
  4. Roll the dough circles into discs that are even (they might not be perfectly round, but that’s OK!)
  5. Cook the discs on your cast-iron or non-stick skillet, and finish them on the gas.

What if you don’t have a gas stove?

chapati on the gas stove
Chapati starting to rise on the gas flame

If after cooking both sides of the chapati you don’t have a gas stove to finish them on (which I highly recommend because then you’ll get those beautiful charred spots that smell and taste just like India – if you’ve been there, then you’ll know what I mean…), then here’s what you can do:

Simply use a clean tea towel (or even a spatula) to press down on the sides of the chapati (NOT the middle!). Normally, you’ll see that it should puff up nicely. Most of the times it will, unless you rolled them too thick, didn’t incorporate enough water, or just because they simply won’t puff up (it happens, and only the chapati Gods know why).

What should I put on my chapati?

how to make super soft chapati

I love to drizzle mine with melted ghee or smear them with salted butter after they’ve come off of the stove. You can also skip this step if you’d like to (though I can only urge you to add the melted fat, because, yum).

How can I store my chapati?

Given how many chapatis we consume in my house, I invested in this really cool contraption. It keeps them hot and soft and I’m totally in love with it. You can find it here, on Amazon.

Otherwise, you can simply put them in a bowl and cover them with a tea towel or a pot lid. That way they won’t dry out. If you somehow have extra chapatis leftover (which honestly, never happens to me, no matter how many I make), then you can wrap them in foil or plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for a couple of days. To reheat, simply pop them on a hot skillet for a couple of minutes on each side and you’re done.

how to make super soft chapati
All ready for some butter!

How to make super soft chapati (roti): the recipe

Super soft Chapatis

Indian flatbread, also known as rotis or chapatis, are a staple in north Indian cuisine.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Resting time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: chapati, flatbread, roti, whole wheat
Servings: 10 chapatis
Calories: 100kcal
Author: Gitanjali

Ingredients

  • 200 g Chakki Atta Indian stone-ground chapati flour
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or melted ghee
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • water room temperature

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, and oil, and mix with your fingers until you start to get a crumbly mixture (15 seconds approximately).
  • Then, slowly add water little by little and mix with your hands.
  • Once your dough starts to turn into a ball, knead it a few times by hand on a cutting board or countertop until the dough is smooth without any lumps or cracks.
  • Note: The dough ball should be soft and pliable, and just a tiny bit sticky to the touch. You should not, however, have any dough that comes off and sticks to your fingers when you touch it. The idea is that the dough is very well hydrated, and this slight stickyness will disappear after resting the dough.
  • Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a dish cloth, and let rest for 10-15 minutes, or up to 45 minutes.
  • Roll the dough into a log on a lightly floured surface, then cut the log into 10 pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a nice, round ball. Dip each ball into a bit of flour (on both sides), then roll it out into a circle that's approximately 16cm large.
  • Heat a cast iron pan or traditional tawa (or even a non-stick pan) on high heat. Once your pan is hot (but not too hot otherwise your chapatis will burn), place a chapati on the pan and cook it on one side until you have some small bubbles that appear (approximately 30-45 seconds, depending on the heat of your pan). Flip and repeat for the other side.
  • Finally, finish the chapati on the gas fire by placing it on a medium-hot flame. It should puff up (if not, don't worry, just try to get some nice charred bits). Flip it to cook the other side.

Notes

Calorie count is approximate

How to make super soft chapati en Francais

Les chapatis, ou les rotis, ce sont des pains Indiens commes les naans. La différence c’est que ils sont pas faites avec une pâte levée. Les chapatis sont faites avec de la farine complète et sans levure.

Il y a plusieurs choses a prendre en compte pour la preparation et la cuisson des chapatis. Mais dès que vous les aurez maîtrisées, vous verrez qu’ils sont faciles à préparer et vraiment superbes avec n’importe quel plat indien. Vous pouvez même les préparer en version sucrée, tartinées de beurre fondu et de miel.

Mes conseils pour réussir vos chapatis:

  1. Il faut acheter de la farine Atta (farine complete speciale pour chapatis), de preference de la marque Pillsbury ou Aashirwad. N’essayez pas a les realiser avec de la farine complète classique car vous allez être déçus.
  2. Essayez d’incorporer un max d’eau dans la pâte, car c’est l’eau qui crée la vapeur pendant la cuisson. Et c’est cette vapeur qui les aidera à bien gonfler et rester bien souples, sans être secs.
  3. Si vous n’avez pas de gaz pour terminer la cuisson directement sur la flamme, vous pouvez aussi faire sans. Il suffit d’appuyer sur les côtés du chapati (et pas au milieu) avec un torchon propre ou même une spatule. La pression va les aider a gonfler.
  4. Sachez que parfois, les chapatis ne gonflent pas. Soit vous avez raté quelque chose, soit les dieux des chapatis ne sont pas avec vous aujourd’hui. Ca m’arrive tout le temps !
  5. En fonction de votre marque de farine Atta, il va peut être falloir ajouter une cuillère à soupe de yaourt Grec à votre pâte. Voyez si la première fois les chapatis ressortent très secs. Si oui, ajoutez le yaourt.

Ma recette des chapatis maison

Ingredients

  • 200 g Chakki Atta (farine Indienne spéciale pour réaliser des chapatis)
  • 1 cas d’huile vegetale (tournesol) ou du ghee fondu 
  • 1/2 cac sel
  • de l’eau à température ambiante

Procedure

  • Dans un grand bol, ajouter la farine, le sel et l’huile, et mélanger avec vos doigts pendant environ 15 seconds.
  • Ensuite, ajouter un peu d’eau, petit a petit, et mélanger avec vos doigts.
  • Quand la pâte commence à faire une boule, pétrissez la quelques fois sur une planche jusqu’à obtenir une boule de pâte bien lisse sans fissures, et qui ne colle pas trop au doigts.
  • NB: La pate doit etre un petit peu collante. Par contre, quand vous la pétrissez il faut pas qu’il vous reste de la pâte sur les doigts. L’effet légèrement collant veut dire que vous avez bien hydratée la pâte. C’est ca qui va aider les chapatis a bien gonfler pendant la cuisson. L’effet collant va normalement disparaître après avoir reposé la pâte.
  • Mettez la pâte dans le bol et couvrez le avec un torchon. Laisser le se reposer pendant 10-15 minutes, ou jusqu’au 45 minutes.
  • Sur une planche légèrement farinée, roulez la pâte pour faire un boudin, et ensuite coupez la en 10 morceaux.
  • Roulez chaque morceaux en forme d’une belle boule, bien ronde. Ensuite trempez-la dans un peu de farine (sur chaque cote), puis roulez un cercle qui fait environ 16 cm.
  • Faites chauffer une poêle bien lourde, de preference en fonte, a feu moyen-fort. Il faut que ça soit chaud, mais pas trop car sinon ca risque de devenir très sec ou de brûler. Mettez un chapati dans la poêle, et faites cuire environ 30-45 secondes, ou jusqu’à ce que vous voyez des petites bulles apparaître. Retourner le chapati et faites cuire l’autre côté.
  • Pour terminer la cuisson, placez le chapati sur la flamme de gaz de votre cuisinière. Faites la dorer légèrement de chaque côté. Normalement, a ce stade la, la flamme va aider le chapati à gonfler un peu. Mais si c’est pas la cas, c’est pas grave, il suffit de s’entrainer !

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