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How to make Chapatti and Soft Wheat Tortillas
Start a Riot in Your Kitchen with Hot Chappatti!
Grains and beans, when eaten together, yield the same high-quality protein that meat and dairy products do at a lot less cost. Chapatti (also known as soft wheat tortillas) are a tasty way to prepare the grain part of the meal.
Yield: 12 - 16
Sift or stir together:
- Four cups high protein flour (sometimes called bread flour).
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 t salt
- A pinch or two of spice, if desired (cumin powder is tasty)
You may use white or whole wheat or a combination. If you are not used to whole wheat but want to try it, start out with 1/4 cup and gradually increase the amount. The reason we use bread flour rather than all-purpose is because the higher gluten level in the bread flour holds the tortillas together when you roll them out and cook them.
Slowly drip into the flour mixture while stirring gently:
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (olive oil is great!)
Rub the flour/oil mixture between the palms of your hands, if necessary, to distribute the oil throughout the dough.
Pour slowly over flour/oil mixture:
- 1.5 cups cool water (no hot water! It will activate the baking powder!)
Let the dough sit for a minute or two while the flour absorbs the water.
- Knead the dough. Your goal is a soft but-not-sticky elastic dough. If your dough is sticky, you will have to use a lot of flour to roll it out and the chapatti will be erratic in shape and thickness. If your dough is too stiff it will not roll into circles easily. Add flour by sprinkling over the top of the dough or by flouring the surface you are kneading on and pushing the dough into that while you knead it. When it is just-past-sticky, knead for another minute to make sure.
- If you add too much flour, then add water by sprinkling DROPS from your hand onto the dough and kneading it. A little extra water goes a long way. Adding it in drops keeps the dough moisture more distributed and consistent.
|Knead for a minute after each addition of flour, feeling the dough take shape and character under your hand. A dough is much different than a cake mix... it is more of an entity, and fights back a bit when you push on it. This is why you use high-protein flour - it has more of the gluten that produces the elasticity! You want it soft but not sticky. And add the flour slowly; it is much easier to add flour to make a dough less sticky than to add water to make a dough softer.
If possible, let the dough sit at least 15 minutes in a covered bowl. The gluten will continue to develop while it sits.
- Heat up a flat skillet, preferably cast iron. Medium or medium-high heat is the best setting. Do NOT grease the pan in any way! Test the heat the way you would for pancake-making- if drops of water bounce when sprinkled on the skillet, it is ready!
- While the pan heats, break or slice the dough into 12 - 16 pieces and roll each individual piece (using flour if necessary) into a golf-ball-sized ball between the palms of your hands. Do not let the balls touch each other (they will stick) and cover lightly to keep from evaporating.
- Roll a ball of dough flat, using flour to keep it from sticking and a heavy rolling pin to make the rolling easy. You don't want to make it cracker-thin but you don't want it more than 1/4 inch thick, either. If your dough is too soft, it will stick to the rolling pin; add more flour.
- Sprinkle a little cornmeal on the skillet (optional!) and lay the chapatti on it. If the temperature of the pan and the chapatti are correct, and the chapatti neither too thick or too thin, you will see the dough start to bubble within a minute or two. When bubbling starts, flip it over. You want to see a few light brown spots on the cooked side. Cook for another minute or two and remove. Stand back while the other people in the room fight over who gets the first one.
Or - cook them in a Waffle Iron!
- The flour from the chapatti that remains in the pan will start to darken but it is not necessary to remove it unless the pan is so hot that the flour starts to burn. In that case, scrape off the flour with a spatula and lower the heat.
- When you get used to making them, you'll be able to keep two or three skillets going. When the dough is 'right' it takes about fifteen seconds to roll one out; when the heat is right it takes 2-3 minutes to cook one.
- If you want these to puff up, knead them well and let them sit for an extra 30 minutes AFTER you have made them into balls. Use a higher rather than low heat. No promises, but they will often puff up if handled like this!
- The difference between cooking a soft chapatti vs. a stiff chapatti is a matter of seconds. Stiffer ones can be softened by putting them on the bottom of the stack of cooked ones - or do as the restaurants do, cut them into slices, like pizza, and serve as finger food with hummus.
Top the chapatti with vegetarian chili, hummus, shredded cheese and lettuce, or soybeans and taco sauce.
This recipe may be doubled. Uncooked dough can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two if stored in air-tight container. You will need to bring it to room temperature before rolling and cooking or it will be flat and heavy. If the dough has started turning gray, it is too old.. the baking powder has already reacted.
Maura Enright, Proprietor
Author: Maura Enright
©2012 by Maura Enright
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