Purnima's chapati

Puff, puff and away! Make sure your chapati puffs up nicely when you’re cooking. Photography by Stephen Glennon.

Puff, puff and away! Make sure your chapati puffs up nicely when you’re cooking. Photography by Stephen Glennon.

Where does it come from?

A chapati is an unleavened flatbread that originates from India and it’s one of the most common breads served in the country. The name originates from the Hindi word “chapat” which means “slap” or “flat” referring to the traditional way of making the thin circles of dough. Today it’s a staple all around the world, even in the Caribbean where it was introduced by Indian merchants.

Best served with your favourite curry, a quick dal or even your favourite chutney (mango anyone?) these chapatis are a simple treat. The dough needs at least 30 minutes to sit but then they’ll be ready in a matter of minutes. And the best bit? You only need three kitchen staples to whip them up: flour, water and oil.  

This recipe is a family recipe that Purnima taught to her daughter, Rena, who in turn shared it with her partner, Stephen. Making the traditional dish together is a ritual that’s brought them closer, and helped Stephen learn about Rena’s mother and her family heritage without leaving their London kitchen.

Now it’s time to head to the kitchen and try out this Indian classic – enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cups atta flour

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon oil

How to make it?

  1. Slowly mix the water and oil into the flour and knead into a large ball. Be careful not to overwork the dough.

  2. Cover in a film of oil and store in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 30 min.

  3. Take an amount of dough slightly larger than a golf ball and roll it out. A circular shape is preferable but vaguely triangular is fine too.

  4. Cook on a dry pan at a high heat. If the chapatis don’t puff up, try rolling them thinner or holding them over the heat source on a wire rack.

  5. Slather with butter and serve.

Tear off a piece of the chapati and use it to scoop up your accompaniment of choice.

Tear off a piece of the chapati and use it to scoop up your accompaniment of choice.