Thursday, August 14, 2008

Make Your Own Chapati: Part II

A couple of days ago I posted Mark Bittman's recipe for making chapati on the grill. I'm here to tell you it works. The first picture above is a shot of the four pieces of dough I rolled out, ready to go on the grill. The second shot is of a piece that's done and ready to come off the grill. He's right that it only takes about a minute a side--once the first side puffs up and begins to darken you just flip it over, then the second side will puff up and darken, and it's done. They were quite good, but next time I'm going to use more white and less wheat flour because I think wheat flour in the States is more grainy and "wheaty" tasting than what I had in India.

Of course in India the women I saw making chapati didn't use food processors to work their dough. They did it all by hand, and with artful dexterity and speed. Nor did they use rolling pins to shape and flatten the pieces of dough before they were cooked on a pan over an open flame (Bittman recommends using a tortilla press, which would be a heresy worse than the rolling pin). They would just work the dough in their hands for a while, then flatten it out with one hand on a stone or board with quick, rhythmic patting motions. The third picture here was taken in the small kitchen of a woman who made lunch for us in a little village outside of Pune. She let me try to make chapati with her and I failed miserably. But I remember squatting there watching her work and being taken by the rhythmic, musical sound of her patting the dough flat with one had. It was like she was playing a little drum and I began to clap along with her, and then did a little scat singing to try to indicate how musical her work was.

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