Thursday 19 June 2008


I like eating with my hands. There's something a bit primal about it, but I think it also harks back to childhood when you'd shovel food into your mouth in a most ungainly manner.

As much as I love and adore rice, I prefer eating Indian food with chapatis or parathas. The breads seem to work with curries and dhals better and is a good vessel for conveying the sauces. So I set about making chapatis.

Most of the recipes for Indian food I use come from Mamta's Kitchen. It's an excellent resource for all things Indian, as it's a live online cookbook. This was no exception.

Chapati flour is a whole wheat flour made from hard wheat, which is high in protein and is therefore strong and can be rolled out thin. The recipe said to add water to the chapati flour until you get a soft dough. I then kneaded it for about 5 minutes until it was soft and smooth. I left it for 10 minutes, and then seperated the dough out into balls, ready to be rolled out.

The chapatis should be rolled out quite thin, with the centre staying a bit thicker. I didn't quite manage to master this technique. Next, the chapatis go in a dry frying pan on a high heat.

When cooked, you hold the chapati over a naked flame, like in the picture below, so that it puffs up with steam and blisters. This was fairly risky business as I didn't have a pair of tongs and I had to do a lot of tossing of the chapatis - a few steam scalds later, and they were ready to be wrapped in foil to keep warm.

When eaten straight from the flame and still inflated, these chapatis become 'phulkas'. However, as I had 6 more to make I had to settle with chapatis.

I had these chapatis with raita, chickpea curry and courgettes stir-fried with black mustard seeds and garlic. From start to finish, the whole process took an hour and 15 minutes - not long for a meal that I'd consider fairly complicated.

The chickpea curry is a dish I make at least once a fortnight. It's straight-forward to make, but I'd also like to try making some meat curries as I don't think I have as yet. Watch this space...

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