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Chapati: The Indian Flatbread

Chapati is a staple bread throughout South Asia and can be savored with a variety of curries, daals, vegetable dishes, and roasted meats.

What is Chapati?

Chapati, also known as roti, is a flatbread staple to Indian, Arabian, and Caribbean cuisine. It’s best known for its flat, round, and chewy texture. The origin of this traditional bread dates back to 1300 BCE, the period when the Indus valley civilization developed in the Indian subcontinent. Later on, chapati bread spread to other regions of the world including Southeast Asia, Central Asia, East Africa, and the Caribbean. Today, chapati is a staple food in many regions. These delicious breads are best paired with savory curries, lentil stews, stir-fries, chutneys, and pickles.

How to Make Chapati?

Image Credit: Usman Yousaf on Unsplash

Chapati dough is prepared from whole wheat flour and water as the main ingredients. However, additional seasonings and spices can be added to the dough for a more flavorful chapati. The chapati dough is then divided into several evenly rolled dough balls. 

Each dough ball is traditionally flattened via slapping with the palms of both hands. While the dough is being flattened, it’s also rotated with each slap for a typical round shape. And so we have the name, chapati, derived from the Indian word “chapat’, meaning “slap” or “leveled”. 

The evenly flattened chapati dough is then cooked over a hot frying pan or an open flame. Resultantly, the soft and fluffy chapati is ready to be savored with hardly two minutes of cooking time. In many parts of the Indian subcontinent, chapati is brushed with ghee or butter once hot.

Flavor of Chapati

Like other flatbreads, chapati doesn’t offer a profound taste on its own. However, there is a mild nutty-sweet flavor from the whole wheat, which is the principal ingredient in chapati dough. What chapati does offer, however, is a delicious texture and perfect chewiness. 

Uses of Chapati

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Like other flatbreads, chapati can be used as a base for tacos, burritos, and scrumptious wraps. However, chapati is traditionally savored with meat, and vegetable curries, daal (lentil stew), stir-fried chicken, roasted meat, and vegetable masala dishes. 

A popular South Asian dish, lamb curry is best enjoyed with chapati. Tear the chapati into bite-sized pieces, spoon the curry on top, and savor the flavor and texture of the bread and stew together in one harmonious bite. 

Chapati bread comes with several variations as well. For instance, paratha, a butter-stuffed chapati, that’s also fried in a spoonful of butter or ghee, is a popular chapati variation. Paratha can be stuffed with meat, vegetables, and spices, and is commonly savored at breakfast in the Indian subcontinent. So how do you plan to savor chapati? Perhaps you’d like to try out our favorite palak paneer recipe with a stack of warm chapati on the side for a creamy, nutritious, and filling dinner. 

Feature Image: Usman Yousaf from Pexels

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