Chapati (Indian Flatbread Roti)

Chapati is a North Indian bread that is eaten at home almost everyday. My father learned how to make it from his mother and he’s passed the recipe on to me. Some chapati recipes call for salt, oil or butter in the dough, but in our family we only use whole wheat flour and water. The whole wheat flour used is called atta, which is a bit more course than the whole wheat flour you find in regular grocery stores. Some recommended brands are Laksmi, Sujata, and Nature’s Best. When buying atta, make sure to find one that does not include maida or all-purpose flour, because that’s not the real thing.

Chapati does take practice to get right. I am still working on my rolling technique because many of my rotis come out all different shapes but I am getting better! The fun part of making this bread is that you roast it a little on a skillet and then throw it on the open flame where it blows up like a balloon. Mine does not do this on every try yet so don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t happen everytime:) My family sometimes adds different ingredients to the dough such as flax seed powder, fenugreek leaves and other flours such as graham and chestnut to make it more healthy.

Recently, my friends Alana and Paul shot a video of my father teaching me how to make chapati. They are doing a series of videos capturing people passing a recipe on to a member of their family. We had a lot of fun and I was really happy when they asked to include us in this series. I will post the video when it’s ready, but you can watch the first one they did here.

I made these rotis with my friend Mia when she came to visit, and she took these photos of the roti making. I refer to some of the equipment I am using in English and Hindi. You can purchase many of these items at the Indian store. Enjoy and thanks for photos Mia!

rolling dough with rolling pin or belan (best to use one that does not have handles because you want to keep your hands flat on the top) on a rolling plate or chakla, but you can also just roll on the counter surface.

roti on the skillet or thava

putting the roti on the open flame using flat tongs called chimta.

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  • srisang

    Thanks for the information, we will add this story to our blog, as we have a audience in this sector that loves reading like this”

    Cooking Equipment

  • Sarah

    So cool! I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try this yet but I’ll put it on my list of things to work up to. I look forward to seeing the video of you and your father at some point – Alana’s project is such a great idea.

  • gvn2fly

    Marry me, Chitra! I could eat chapatis made this way for the rest of my life =)

  • Fares design

    Hi Chitra! Am I doomed if I don’t have an gas stove or is there another way to have it made? :(

  • Chitra

    No actually! I grew up in a house that just had an electric stove so my dad would make it just on the skillet. He would kind of turn it around and around and put pressure on certain places using a towel to get it to puff up. Takes practice though, but he actually does this in the video that my friends made so you will be able to see how that works.

  • kim

    Kool! I love all types of bread! Could I sub in whole wheat flour? Thanks for sharing your cultural background with us.

  • Chitra

    Thank you! Yes you can definitely sub in whole wheat flour for this recipe.