Chapati or roti is unleavened Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour or wholemeal flour. Originally from India sub-continent, this flatbread is a staple in most Indian meals and is considered an everyday flatbread.
Unlike naans and kulchas, it is yeast-free, vegan, does not use refined flour and is rich in dietary fibres. Chapati or roti is prepared fresh each day from scratch by kneading the dough and rolling and roasting smaller portions of that dough into thin flatbreads.
Read here how to make the perfect roti dough for soft & supple chapatis or rotis. Also, I have shared step-by-step shots of making the dough along with a video on how to roll out round Indian Chapatis. Plus what’s the difference between rotis or chapatis, paranthas, phulkas, naans, pooris, luchis, kulchas and bhatureys.
Internet is abuzz with Indian Chapati or Roti flatbread recipes. Read how we Indians make it at home EVERY DAY! Also, I will tell you how to store uncooked rotis for your meal-prep.
Understanding Roti or Chapati
For the people of Indian sub-continent, roti is more like an emotion, something quite similar to bread for the western world. Often it is equated with the activity of eating a meal together by saying, “Aaja roti kha le!” Loosely translated into “come and eat with us”. Here, the word ‘roti’ denotes the meal, which might or might not consist of actual rotis or chapatis.
So, what is meant by unleavened Indian flatbread? ‘Unleavened’ means it uses no leavening agent such as yeast, baking powder or baking soda. There is no need to leave the dough for proofing. You can make the dough and make the rotis instantly (perhaps you can leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes). But that’s it.
Indian Roti is one of the quickest form of bread that can be made instantly and served. So, while your curry simmers, you can easily make a bunch of Indian Roti or Chapati in a jiffy.
Another very important aspect of chapati or Indian roti is that it is made with Aata Flour or Whole wheat Flour. It has greater content of bran than All-Purpose Flour which is a refined version of the same.
By the way, whole wheat flour is much more nutrient-dense than refined all-purpose flour. It has more iron, vitamins and protein which is very healthy for the body.
How to make Indian Roti?
Recipe of an Indian roti cannot be any simpler. All you need is some wheat flour and water. That’s it! So, all these days if you have been wondering about what is Indian roti made of, then I hate to burst your bubble.
The trick lies in how you make the Indian roti dough. The roti or chapati dough is crucial is making soft and supple flatbreads which would remain soft even after coming off the griddle and getting slightly cold. So, let’s start with the beginning.
How to make Indian roti or chapati dough?
Good chapati making is a matter of practice. There’s no second thought about it. Even many Indians cannot make round and supple chapati at home. Don’t be surprised when you see a fellow Indian buying frozen chapatis from the freezer section in your next supermarket trip!
What is Indian roti or chapati made of? Its simple. Just two ingredients. FLOUR & WATER.
However, the essence lies in the small tricks which makes the roti dough perfect, which in turn yields perfectly soft chapatis.
Recipe for Indian Roti or Chapati – Ingredient list
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Tepid Water
- Sunflower Oil (You can use Ghee if you feel like, but usually we don’t)
- Here, for 3 cups of Whole Wheat Flour, i.e. approximately 390gms, we need 1¼ cups of Water, i.e. 295 ml or 10 fl. oz. I have used Whole Wheat Flour, which is finer than Whole Meal Flour. Knead the dough.
- Once the dough comes together, add 2 tbsp of any neutral oil, like Sunflower Oil, Canola Oil, Rice Bran Oil, EVOO, etc. Knead it till it becomes soft and supple.
- The texture of the dough should be something like this.
The list is small and you can make a bunch of Indian chapatis to go with your curries in no time.
We don’t add anything else in this dough and some of the strict no-nos of making a chapati dough are:
- using all-purpose flour, as it is refined and processed flour which quite unhealthy for regular consumption (considering average Indians consume 4-5 chapatis in each meal)
- using yogurt, there is no need to use any kind of leavening agent even if it is all-natural like yogurt
- garlic powder, why on Earth would someone put garlic powder on the chapati dough? Never. Chapati is considered to be a perfect vegetarian dish, which means no garlic at all.
- chilli flakes, again not at all used in a chapati, but often used in Namak Mirch Parantha.
- salt, it is generally avoided because the curries are already seasoned appropriately. So, a salted chapati would distort the taste.
How to roll perfectly round Chapatis or Indian Rotis?
Different kind of Indian flatbreads
- Naans are leavened Indian flatbreads which usually has Yogurt or Yeast, or both in it. Apart from that, it is made with all-purpose flour and cooked Indian style clay oven, also known as ‘tandoor‘. After taking the naans out of the oven, it is generously slathered with butter to make it soft.
Here, I have Instant Naan recipe which is a no-yeast recipe.
- Pooris or Luchis are unleavened deep-fried Indian flatbreads. They can be made either with all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour or a mix of both. Bengali luchis are traditionally made out of all-purpose flour. They are deep-fried in either oil or ghee.
Here, I have a detailed post on how to make Bengali Luchis.
- Bhatureys are leavened deep-fried Indian flatbreads, made with all-purpose flour. Traditionally, Yogurt is used to knead the dough and then allowed to ferment for a couple of hours before frying the rolled out dough
Here, I have Instant Bhaturey recipe
- Kulchas are again leavened Indian flatbreads which are baked in Indian clay ovens or tandoors. It is quite similar to naans, however, the leavening is lesser, as a result, they are denser than naans in terms of texture. Again like naans, they can plain kulchas or stuffed kulchas where the stuffing can be made of anything from potatoes to meat.
- Parathas are unleavened Indian flatbreads. Basically they are griddle fried chapatis. They can be plain as well as stuffed parathas as well.
- Phulkas are chapatis or rotis which have been roasted on the griddle itself. They are pressed using a piece of folded cloth to cook the bread thoroughly.
Side dish ideas for Indian rotis or chapatis
- Paneer Butter Masala
- Palak Paneer – also known as Saag Paneer
- Malai Kofta Curry
- Daal Makhani
- Cauliflower Curry
- Dahi Aloo
- Chana Masala
Chapati or roti is unleavened Indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour or wholemeal flour. Originally from India sub-continent, this flatbread is a staple in most Indian meals. Unlike naans and kulchas, it is yeast-free, vegan, does not use refined flour and is rich in dietary fibres.
- 3 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1¼ cup Water Room Temperature or slightly tepid
- 2 tbsp Sunflower Oil or any neutral oil.
Take the flour in the mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add half of the water. Now, start kneading the dough. It will be sticky in the beginning, but keep working
Add rest of the water and knead. Once the water has been absorbed, add the oil and knead everything together.
Do not worry about over-kneading because we need to build the glutinous protein bonds which will make the dough elastic for soft chapatis
The cue to stop kneading is when your mixing bowl is clean in the inside, it means the dough is ready.
At this stage, you can leave the dough covered by a damp cloth for 10-15 minutes, or you can start making the chapatis.
Pinch off 15 equal dough balls and roll them between your palms to make them smooth.
Now, flour your rolling surface and your rolling pin and start rolling them into a circle. Use your wrist and your rolling pin to stretch and rotate so that it takes the circular shape.
Once you have the chapatis of around 7-8 inches in diameter, place them on the griddle. Once you see bubbles rising on the surface, turn it over using a tong. Let the other side also get roasted with small brown spots
Now, remove the griddle and place the chapati directly on the fire burner nozzles of your stovetop. One it starts to puff up, turn it over. Keep it on fire for 2-3 seconds for each side otherwise, it will start to burn.
Remove them from the fire and serve. You can slather some ghee or clarified butter, or even normal butter to make them rich and delicious
FAQs on Roti or Chapati
No, roti or chapati isn’t gluten-free as it is made with whole wheat flour.
It is simply made of whole wheat flour and water.
To make a soft & supple roti dough, all you have to do is knead a soft dough using whole wheat flour and water. The proportion of flour to water is usually 2:1.
The Sherbati strain of wheat grain gives the best flour to make perfect rotis. Brands selling flour usually mention the grain type on their packaging. ITC Aashirvaad & Pilsbury sells Sherbati wheat flour.
There are are couple of reasons for hard rotis. First is the quality of flour. Second, if the dough is too tight, the rotis will be hard. They will not puff up and won’t be soft. Thirdly, if the rotis are rolled with too much of flour then also the rotis get hard upon cooling. Fourth, if the rotis are left in the open after roasting, they get hard. The steam inside the rotis help keep the chapatis soft.
You can use Multigrain Flour as a healthier option. Otherwise, you can grind oats and add that to your flour to reduce the portion of wheat flour in it.
No. Chapati Flour is Wheat Flour, also known as Aata. Gram flour is known as Besan and is made out of Bengal Gram lentils.