sourdough chapatis using starter toss-out


(makes 4 chapatis)

I tried this a couple of nights ago - really just because I preferred the idea of using the toss-out from a newly active starter, rather than consigning it to the compost. I was surprised and delighted by the results. I regularly make chapatis to have with curries, and the addition of the sourdough mix made a noticeable improvement: the outside crisped up beautifully in a way it usually doesn't, and the inside was a little airier. Most importantly, the flavour was better, too.

So, in response to a request for the recipe on another thread, here it is (and yeah, I know this is closer to a paratha than a chapati...but it's how I like to make 'em). You can call 'em parathas if you like...

I do my chapatis by feel, rather than measuring out ingredients, so the quantities below are approximations only. Aim at getting a nice texture, and adjust flour/water accordingly - not sticky, but not too dry - and you'll be fine.

3/4 cup atta flour
3/4 cup active starter
1/4 cup tepid water
1 teaspoon olive oil
a bit of plain white flour to adjust mix texture

Very complicated, this. Mix all ingredients together in moxing bowl, using one hand only to keep other clean. Add more water or plain flour if necessary, until texture is just right. Turn out on to bench and knead a couple of minutes, until a nice even dough.

Drip 1/4 teaspoon olive oil into bottom of mixing bowl. Revolve dough around until coated in oil. Cover bowl with cloth and rest until ready to use (probably best to give it 20-30 minutes, but you can get by with I did a couple of nights ago).

Heat wok, tawa or frypan to medium high, with just a little oil to coat the surface. You're not deep-frying! True chapatis are dry-cooked or held over a flame, but I like the effect of semi-frying them.

Divide dough into 4 balls. Flatten one on bench with palm of hand, and push outwards with fingers to thin it out - as thin as possible without tearing it. If it sticks to bench, add a few drops of olive oil to surface. Should be a quick operation...less than a minute.

Fry chapati in pan, turning when it starts to bubble up on the upper side. (While cooking, make next chapati on benchtop). Fry to golden brown or own preference - should be ready after 1 -2 minutes per side...adjust heat if too high or too low. Keep warm and eat ASAP.




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TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 July 3

Must make these soon. If a very soft and moist chapati is preferred, an indian friend gave me a tip...add some milk powder to it. But, I think the sourdough starter would do the trick just as well from the sound of it.



rossnroller 2009 July 3
Now that you mention it, TeckPoh, I do often use milk (fresh) instead of water when I need to add a bit of moisture to the dough during the final consistency-adjustment stage (I do the same with pizzas) - and the reason is, a little milk does seem to make the final product softer and fluffier. Not that that is necessarily how a good chapati should be, but it's something I like!

Haven't tried adding milk powder - ta for the tip. Will try that.

BTW, if anyone should be listened to about Indian food (or Malay, or Chinese, for that matter), it's a Malaysian kitchen fiend.  I travelled around the peninsula for 3 weeks a couple of years ago and found the food spectacularly good. Had a meal of assorted curries and breads at a Pakistani hawker place in Melaka that was the best of that style of cuisine I have ever experienced, including during 3 months I spent in India. I LOVE the fact that all the Indian restaurants have their own tandoor. You can't beat tandoor naans etc.

I wrote a series of blogs raving about Malaysian street food. I don't suppose there's much reason for you to be interested, since you live in Malaysia and have constant access to that vast array of wonderful Indian, Malay and Chinese food, but if any other readers are thinking of going to Malaysia and want to know something of the food paradise that awaits the traveller, have a look at the "Malaysia" category of my blog, The Boomtown Rap (located in the list of items on the right side).
TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 July 3
...but, I'm ever on the lookout for new local places to eat. I abandon the kitchen on Sat/Sun and we eat out. Like you discovered, there are so much great cheap food around that we have yet to run out or get unexcited. Yes, you do need to know where to look in KL. Give me a shout the next time you visit. Your blog is very well-written indeed, with many interesting observations/angles. Bookmarked.
rossnroller 2009 July 4
Thanks a lot, TeckPoh. We were planning on going to Malaysia again some time this year. Will PM you when we are clearer about dates etc. If you could suggest some of your fave food spots in KL or elsewhere, it would be GREAT. As you'll have noted, food and talking to local people about the culture are our overwhelming priorities. 
PeteInAz. 2009 July 16

I have a tortilla press that can press less then 1/8 inch (3mm?) thick. Would it be ok to use that to make these chapatis? 

Thank you.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 July 16

A tortilla press is pretty much the same as a chapatti press. Although I don't use either, 3mm is just about the thickness I make my chapattis.

Talking about a tortilla press, I just loved watching the monster tortilla machine in Anaheim's Disneyland.

Welcome, Pete!

rossnroller 2009 July 17
Agree with TeckPoh. I find it very quick and easy just using my hands, though - and the less you have to wash up, the better!
3petitspains 2009 July 18
I make chapattis quite often - but as far as i know they shouldn't have any yeast/starter in the dough.

Simply flour, water and salt - leave to stand (covered) - then lots of kneading of very small balls of dough and then rolling them really really really thin (almost paper thin). Lots of flour between the chapattis when they are piled-up otherwise they will stick together. Then you put them on to a very hot dry (no oil) frying pan for a few seconds on each side then hold them over a naked flame - they should puff-up and it is OK for them to burn a bit (or even catch fire). Yum.

rossnroller 2009 July 18

Yes, quite correct, ben. As stated, my "chapatis" are a cross between chapati and paratha. But I like 'em like that...and the addition of starter just seems to make them crisper on the outside and lighter inside. Really, I only tried this to use up the starter throw-out, rather than composting it, but I actually prefer the results to any other variation of chapati/paratha I've made!

But you're right - if you want authentic chapatis, this ain't the way!

PS: The way chapatis are made does vary, though. I have a few Indian cookbooks by Indian authors, and while some include oil in their chapati recipes, others don't. Some don't include salt, either. I guess, like most cuisines, there are multiple regional variations (and national ones - eg: the gorgeous Malaysian roti canai, which is my all-time favourite "Indian" bread...oh..along with tandoor-baked naan).

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