How to Make Chapatis: Thin, Nutty, and Crispy Breads

How to make chapatis. These traditional Indian flatbreads have a cracker and nut-like flavor and can be made by even the most inexperienced bakers. Check out step-by-step instructions for a chapati bread recipe and variations to enhance flavor.

| July/August 1978

Learn how to make Chapatis, traditional Indian flatbreads, by following the step-by-step instructions in our Crispy Chapati Bread Recipe linked to this article.

Simple Chapati Recipe

Crispy Chapati Bread Recipe

How to Make Chapatis

A while back, a friend of mine threw a dinner party. And that get-together was distinguished — for me at least — by the presence of some round, lightly browned tortilla-like wafers nestled among the piles of barbecued chicken, refried beans, homemade whole wheat bread, fresh garden vegetables, eye-catching salads, and assorted condiments.

One of the guests at that festive feast — a Sikh from India — first sampled all the foods, then pointed to the stack of wafers and pronounced: "This is best!" He was biased — of course — because those thin, crispy patties of unleavened bread were chapatis (also spelled chipatis, chepattis, or chupattis) . . . which have been a staple food in his homeland for thousands of years! Still, even though I'd chewed my first chapati only a few months earlier, I had to agree with the Sikh: Of all the breads I have eaten, I too like chapatis the best. Let's walk through the process of how to make chapatis, so you can have some at your next gathering.

Chapatis are Like Tortillas

The chapati is a close cousin to the tortilla of Mexico, the Jewish matzo, Arab pocket bread, American hoecakes and spoonbread — and yes — even pancakes, waffles, English muffins, and pizza! All these — and many more — are flatbreads; perhaps the oldest and most basic breads in existence. Nearly every culture has its own version of flatbread, which — in its simplest form — consists of nothing but flour and water formed into thin, round wafers. The discs are then quickly cooked on hot stones, coals, griddles . . . or even the tops of wood stoves!

While there has been — and will continue to be — many a fallen loaf of yeast bread in the annals of baking, chapatis seem virtually foolproof, even for confirmed kitchen klutzes! In five years of baking these Indian delicacies, I have never made a bad batch (though no two have ever turned out quite the same). And, since chapatis are so easy to make, you can whip up a week's supply — or more — in just a couple of hours. (If any are left over after you've wolfed down half a batch or so, wrap them in airtight packages and store 'em in the fridge or freezer. They keep just as well as ordinary bread but take up much less space.)

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