Much like the Daring Bakers (stay tuned for that recipe, coming soon) I have been eyeing the monthly Bread Baking Day and wanting to participate. Well, this month I finally got my butt in gear and did so. The theme is flatbreads, hosted by Chili und Ciabatta and the rules are just to make and blog about a flatbread. Choice is up to you, as long as it is not a pizza.
I have been really into Indian flatbreads lately. I recently learned how to make naan and have gotten pretty decent at it (see here for my post on naan—I have no pics because as you may remember my dog ate the bread before I had a chance to take any pictures. This time I made the family wait while I snapped a few photos!), so even though naan is our favorite, I did not want to make it as I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted a griddle baked bread since the naan was a simulated clay oven bread and I did not feel like deep frying anything, so that left griddle breads. After browsing some cookbooks I finally settled on a chapatti recipe.
This Dahi Chapati (a griddle baked whole wheat flatbread with yogurt) comes from Yamuna Devi’s Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. Despite the fact that it is not a bread book, its flatbread recipes have been much more tasty and reliable than any of my bread books have been. I would say this recipe continued that trend, although I did discover that I don’t particularly care for chapatti! I believe I succeeded because A the bread did exactly what it was supposed to (see my photos of the bread ballooning—the last time I tried pita bread I could not get it to inflate for the life of me, so I think this was a well written recipe) and B my family LOVED the chapatti—absolutely devoured them, whereas I have always suspected I might not care for chapatti—no matter who made it. Suspicion confirmed.
The only change I made was in the matter of the flour. Making chapati normally calls for chapati or atta flour (which I would absolutely have used if I had had any) and the second choice was mostly whole wheat flour mixed with some AP flour. I suspected when this book was written (1987) white whole wheat flour was not a common option; because chapati flour is a 100% whole grain light colored wheat flour, I thought that using all white whole wheat flour might be a reasonable substitution (especially since we are not huge fans of the flavor of traditional whole wheat around here). If any of you are familiar with making Indian flatbreads I would be curious to hear your opinion of this substitution.
Adapted from Yamuna Devi’s Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking
2 ¼ cups (295 g) chapati flour or 1 ½ cups (190 g) whole wheat flour mixed with ¾ cup (95 g) AP flour or 2 ¼ cups (295 g) white whole wheat flour
½ t salt (optional—I used)
⅓ cup plain yogurt at room temperature
4-6 T warm but not hot water (I needed 7 but it is quite dry here)
flour (any of the above) for dusting
melted butter or ghee for brushing on the finished flatbreads (optional—I used ghee)
Place the flour (and salt if using) in a large mixing bowl. Either using the paddle attachment or rubbing with your fingers, blend the yogurt into the flour. Add the water, pouring fast at first as it adheres into a rough mass, and then slowing down, until you have a kneadable dough. Knead the dough, adding flour or water as necessary, for 8 minutes. I used the dough hook on my mixer for this. The dough will become smooth and pliable—similar to a yeast dough but not quite. Kind of like a cross between kneading a yeast dough and kneading scone dough. Roll the dough into a ball and place in the bottom of a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic and leave for at least 30 minutes, up to 3 hours (you can refrigerate it as well for up to 24 hours, well covered, in which case let it come to room temperature before rolling out).
Gather the items needed for baking the bread: a rolling pin, dusting flour in a shallow bowl, a basket lined with tea towels or just the tea towel, and a clean area for rolling out the dough (not really an item, but you get the drift). Knead the dough briefly and divide it into 14 equal sized portions. Devi says to set them on a plate, covered with a damp towel, without letting them touch. Honestly mine touched and were fine but my kitchen is quite dry.
Set a griddle on your stove over 2 burners. Set the front burner on a moderately low heat; set the back burner on high about 5 minutes before you are done rolling out the chapati. Flatten a ball of dough in a 2 inch patty and lightly dip it into the dusting flour. Roll it out as evenly as you can into a circle with a 6 inch diameter (ha—I am the worst “roller-outer,” but mine came out fine—don’t get hung up on the shape). This was a remarkably un-sticky dough for me, so I rolled all of my balls out and then stacked them, overlapping slightly. They actually did not stick together, except a little at the very bottom. (Maybe this is a sign my dough needed more water, but I had already gone over the 6 tablespoons AND it was definitely kneadable–any opinions from any experts out there?).
When the griddle is hot, pick up a rolled out chapatti and slap it back and forth gently to remove any excess flour. Then place it on the front (cooler) burner—try to lay it as quickly as possible and as flat as possible. Let it cook for 1 minute, or until the chapatti lightens in color, small bubbles begin to form and the bottom has small brownish spots on it. Then flip it over (I used a turner) and cook for another 30 seconds on the other side.
Then move the chapatti to the back burner, where it should fill with steam and swell like a balloon. This will happen in a matter of seconds, around 10-15. If you have a gas burner, she does say you can hold it with tongs above the heat, but honestly I found this method very easy and the bread definitely ballooned.
Slide the finished bread into the tea towels and keep covered. Serve warm, brushed on one side with butter or ghee if desired.
Stay tuned for the curry I served with them!