Most of indian housewives make chapatis like a boss! My wife misses her mom's chapatis, so I want to surprise her with "the ultimate chapati", so I would like to ask some questions about the process.

I've seen her mom make chapatis, and I can assure this are the ingredients she uses:

  • Atta flour of a brand I have.
  • Mineral water
  • Salt
  • Sunflower Oil

That's it. I know many recipes call for ghee instead of oil. What would be the difference?

What do you think is the perfect dough hidration to make a soft but also thin chapati? I've tried a few times, and sometimes my chapati becomes hard and crispy, so I have to make it thicker, just what I'm trying to avoid.

Mom doesn't let the dough rest for a long time, just half and hour tops. So if I want only 30 mins dough rest, it should be more or less hydrated? Also she does not knead a lot, the dough is kneaded in 10 mins, so what you think? Is soft and thin chapatis possible with 10 mins knead and 30 mins rest, or is mom a magician?

Then comes shaping.. what's better to let the dough rest before cutting? or cut the portions for each chapati and then let it rest? Mom lets the full dough rest, and makes the portions just when she starts rolling.

Rolling a perfect shape is just a question of practise, but I always find that putting dough portion into flour before rolling helps. Mom uses very little extra flour when rolling, only at the begining. Altough She puts few drops of oil, folds the portion, and the shapes it, round and thin. So what's better for rolling? Only flour or Oil? Do we put oil during kneading? How much, does it count into the hidration percent?

OK, once rolled, time too cook it. We have a "tawa" which is a flat pan. Guess gas stove is better but, can we do it with vitroceramic?. Just so you know, mom does not use the direct cook on the flame method, she only cooks on top of the hot tawa. Is it better to have tawa at medium high or at max temp? I think sometimes it became hard and crispy for me because of the high temp. Mom uses max temp on gas stove.

Mom's chapatis bubble up like a baloon.. Mine don't. Whats the secret of bubbling? I guess this is what makes the chapati soft, with those 2 layers. Why doesn't my chapati bubble?

Finally preserving softness. I eat mom's chapati half an hour later and it's still soft. Mine get's Harder after a few minutes. Why?

Please help me make the Ultimate chapati.

  • My understanding is that the puff comes from making sure that you have the cooking surface at the correct temperature ... but what that temperature is, I have no idea. – Joe Feb 3 '16 at 19:20
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    I know you're asking about one food type but you're asking a huge number of different, specific questions. You might have better luck getting good answers if you break this into separate questions. – Catija Feb 3 '16 at 20:35
  • As a side note, is it not possible for you to communicate with your Mother-in-Law to get her recipe/method so that you can make the exact same ones? – Catija Feb 3 '16 at 20:50
  • Hello Jack, you have some very good questions there! But we cannot really answer them all at once. If you would split that up and post it as multiple separate questions, that would work well. Not only does it make the questions manageable, it also allows people to more easily find the information about a specific problem, and you get more reputation, as each question will be upvoted separately. Also check if some of them are duplicates - I am certain we have had the "foll in flour or oil" before, for example. – rumtscho Feb 3 '16 at 21:24
  • IMO I can't break it out, as the full process is related. I want someone with chapati experience to guide me though the whole process of mixing ingredients/proportions/selection, resting, shaping/rolling, cooking and storing. That's it the end of the day. Just I want you to have this ideas in mind before giving an answer. The question is actually.. hey MasterChef! How do you cook your chapatis so they are perfect like my mom's? round, thin, soft and tasty! – Jack Casas Feb 5 '16 at 3:02

Partial answer here: Water temperature has a definite influence, a few recipes use boiling water, and I found the chapati made that way excellent. What boiling water will do:

  • (definitely) inhibit formation of long gluten strands, so you get a texture that bites through more easily (that effect is drastic - try making seitan from a dough that has been mixed with boiling water...). This is a well known method for some types of chinese pancakes and wrappers, too.

  • (likely) partially cook the flour so you can get away with a short time on the griddle, without drying the bread out too much.

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