Vasantha Prasad

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Chapati is a popular Indian bread.  Chapati flour is available in Indian grocery stores, but you can substitute whole-wheat flour for very satisfying results. Whole wheat is a type of whole grain, and whole grains are a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and fiber, as well as other valuable antioxidants not found in some fruits and vegetables. Chapatis are a great way of getting a serving of whole grains. At first, it may seem complicated to make this delicious bread, but with a little patience and practice, you can become proficient at it!  

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 25 minutes  Serves: 4 (makes 12 chapatis)

2 c. chapati flour, or 1 c. whole wheat flour plus 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. extra light olive oil or light vegetable oil

7 oz. (just a little more than 3/4 c.) warm water (95°–100°)

1/2 c. all-purpose flour for dusting

2 Tbsp. melted butter, vegetable oil, or olive oil, to brush on the chapatis

1. Into a medium-size bowl, sift the flour.  Add the salt and oil.  Slowly add the water, gathering the flour to make a dough. (You may need to add more water if you feel the consistency of the dough is not pliable.)  Knead the dough in the bowl for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth, soft, and pliable.  Test if it is well kneaded by pressing your index finger slightly into the dough: if it springs back, the dough is well kneaded.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and leave it in a warm place.

2. After 30 minutes, knead the dough for a minute.  Divide into twelve equal balls.  Dust them slightly with the additional flour to prevent them from sticking to one another; return to bowl and cover.

3. Heat a cast-iron or nonstick griddle or skillet on medium-low heat.  Take a dough ball and flatten it between the palms of your hands. Dust it with flour on both sides, and with a floured rolling pin, roll it out into a 7-inch round.  Keep dusting it with flour occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the work surface or the rolling pin.  When the griddle is hot, gently place the chapati on the griddle, and cook for 30–35 seconds, until soft bubbles begin to form on top.  Flip chapatti, brush the top with a little butter, and cook for 20 seconds.  Remove to a platter and keep warm.  A well-cooked chapati should be light and fluffy.  Repeat the procedure with the remaining eleven balls, stacking them on the platter. Serve hot.

4. Chapatis can be prepared several hours in advance and then warmed before serving.  Wrap them in foil and heat them at 300° in a preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Chapatis go well with any vegetable, chicken, or fish dish.                   

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