Thursday, April 22, 2010

it's a chapati pahty!

Lately I crave yeasty, doughy, cushiony bread.  The chewier the better.  Slather it with melted cheese, and you've won my heart.

My mind tells me that I could eat pizza every day. There's this place, Regina Pizzeria in Boston, and they make this ridiculous brick-oven style pizza. Huge slices that require your full attention to hold onto, garlicky sauce that smacks and zings, and fresh, rich mozzarella.

My favorite book du jour encourages me to remove all stigma attached to food. I'm to allow myself whatever my body desires. For, as Geneen Roth says, "the moment you tell yourself you can have it, the moment the taboo is removed, hot fudge sundaes become as ordinary as sardines." You know, I've never tried sardines on pizza before. Ahem, I digress. Part of me gets on board with Geneen's assertion. Part of me believes. But the other part of me, the one that still doesn't trust myself around food, freaks out at the prospect of no rules. I cry, "If I want a pizza every day, and I eat a pizza every day, I will gain more weight!" I lament, "When I eat pizza, I don't know how to stop after one or two slices. I will eat the whole entire gooey thing, and then I will feel stuffed with bloaty carbs and stuffed with failure."

Is it my body that wants the pizza or my mind that wants to be allowed to have the pizza? I imagine that it is both. I don't like binaries, though, so I sat and pondered as I'm wont to do, and it occurred to me that there was a third option.

And so, dearest friends, I present to you: chapati.

Could anything be simpler or more satisfying to make? Doubtful. If you hate to cook, you will appreciate the short list of ingredients and the minimal effort needed to whip these up. If you love to cook, you will see the chapati a useful staple with endless possibilities for variation. It makes a fabulous pizza dough. Last night, I used it like a soft tortilla to wrap around my spinach and dal puree. You can dip it in hummus. It tastes equally delicious with sweet additions as with savory ones, and I imagine you could add some ground cinnamon or nutmeg to the batter and then spread the finished product with jam.

Give it a whirl, and I promise you'll want to roll up in its doughy goodness.

1 c. chapati flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 Tb. olive oil
1/2 c. water

Mix ingredients in a bowl until combined. Then, knead the dough for 3 minutes or so. Now, the real chapati recipes tell you to flour a surface and then knead for five to ten minutes. I enjoy cutting corners whenever possible, and I've found that you can just mush it around in your hands (no floured surface needed) for about 3 minutes, and it's just as good. Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover it.  Leave it for 10-20 minutes (this is the time that I whip up whatever I'm going to eat it with). Heat a skillet to medium heat and add some olive oil. While the skillet is heating up, split the dough into two balls, and roll out each ball until it looks like a tortilla. I use a rolling pin (how fancy!), but in a pinch, I've just mushed it around with my hands. Cook in the skillet for a few minutes (you'll know the side is done when it starts puffing up -- see photo), then flip it over and cook for another minute or two.

Yields 2 tortilla-sized chapati

Some additional notes:  I like to sing, to the tune of this crowd-pleaser, "It's a chapati party, it's a chapati party, it's a chapati party, it's a cha....pati!" as I'm cooking these.  Of course, it's better if you pronounce "party" like a Bostonian.   Also, a bag of chapati flour is $7 at Whole Foods but only $3.50 at the Indian grocery store in my town. One bag of flour makes at least 30 chapati, so it's a pretty inexpensive dinner.

Let me know if you try it.  I think you will be enamored!


  1. Looks delicious! I'd rather you made it for me.


  2. You know how Geneen says, "You don't want the ice cream sundae as much as you want to be the ice cream sundae?" Well in this much, we are soul sisters, for I would much prefer to be a doughy melty cheesy pizza any day. :) Thank you for these thoughts.

  3. @Bonnie: But it's your favorite kind of technique: you can knead it to within an inch of its life and it's just as tasty. This ain't no pâte brisée!

    @Kate aka soul sister: You've really gotta try these, then. They're so satisfying!