The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


cookingbyheart's picture

Vishwani Agrawal teaches his daughter, Chitra, to make traditional North Indian flatbread known as chapati or roti.

It was a treat to spend the day with Chitra and her dad while we shot this piece and learned from a master. Chitra’s father, Vishwani, shares his method of making chapati, also known as roti, a flat bread most commonly prepared in northern India. Vishwani grew up in Allahabad, one of India’s oldest cities, where he learned to prepare chapatis by watching his mother and then as time went on, by refining his own technique. On the shoot, Vishwani told us about leaving home for college, which is when he first began making chapati. Later, when he met his wife, Prathima, he continued to make chapati. Prathima is from south India, where rice is more commonly served as a staple. To this day, Vishwani remains the primary chapati-maker of the house. And since Vishwani and Prathima make chapatis weekly, they’ve become masters. It seems like making any kind of bread dough takes some experimentation to get it right.

When I asked Vishwani about the importance of passing down the tradition, I was excited by his response. He pointed out that traditions are not a one way street. They aren’t blindly passed on and can’t be forced onto the next generation, but rather they are actively accepted, practiced and kept alive by the younger generation. It’s refreshing to hear a different perspective and to consider that we are not just vessels but we are active participants in creating new traditions and keeping old traditions alive. Vishwani can teach what he knows, but it’s up to Chitra to keep it going, if she so chooses. As he tells Chitra, he teaches procedure, technique is what you figure out on your own.

Vishwani and Prathima reside in Alabama, where they both work in the Computer and Electrical Engineering Department at Auburn University.

Ingredients (makes 6 rotis)
1 cup of flour
~1/2 cup lukewarm water
extra flour for rolling

Sift the flour into a bowl and slowly add water while kneading until you get to a dough that is soft, smooth and pliable. The longer you knead the dough the better but 5 minutes of heavy kneading will do.

Take the dough ball and cover with a damp cloth for a minimum of 30 minutes (you can also make the dough and put in your fridge for making another day).

Divide the dough into 6 dough balls or loee and roll them in flour.

Flatten each each dough ball with your palm and roll out to a 6 inch diameter, using extra flour so it does not stick.

Heat an iron skillet on medium heat. When it is hot (water drops should sizzle immediately), place roti on.

Let it cook and when you start to see bubbles form in many places, flip it over and cook until the other side does the same.

Over a medium flame, with flat tongs or chimta place the roti until it blows up or browns on both sides. (If you are cooking on an electric stove, you can press the roti in different places with a cloth to make it blow up a bit right on the skillet)

With the tongs, hit the roti against a surface to shake off any excess flour.

Butter one side with ghee and place in an airtight container lined with paper towel.

Music: Boss City by Wes Montgomery; Evelyn by Dabrye; Pacific Theme by Broken Social Scene; Cause=Time by Broken Social Scene; Little Chin by Tommy Guererro

Vishwani and Chitra, thank you for sharing. Franny & John, Thank you for letting us take over your apt for the day! Sintalentos, thank you for your musical consultation. Michael Legume, thanks for the audio equip. Paul, you’re the best.

jschoell's picture

Make a soaker with whole wheat flour and spelt berries. Let it sit at room temp, covered. A day later, mix yeast with warm water and honey. After 5 minutes, add the foaming yeast to the soaker, along with some salt and enough whole wheat flour to make a sticky dough. Knead for 5 minutes, form a ball and transfer to a bowl coated with good EVOO. Let rise until doubled.

Pour out dough and slice off chunks that will form 3 inch diameter balls. Wrap balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. 

After a day of chilling, preheat oven to 500 F, with a heavy cast iron pan on the middle rack. Pour 1/4 cup of poppy seeds on a work surface. Take the dough ball from the fridge, unwrap it, and flatten it on top of the poppy seed mound. Flip the dough over and smash it into the seeds again, sweeping the seeds into a pile as needed. Continue until the dough disc is black on both sides with poppy seeds. Slide it onto the preheated pan and bake until puffy, about 5-6 minutes. 

Delta_v's picture

Quick stovetop naan recipe

February 14, 2012 - 8:49am -- Delta_v

Thought I'd share this tasty, easy recipe for naan made on the stovetop. I've tried a few different variations but I keep on coming back to this one for the simple reason that is produces good, soft yet sturdy breads, perfect for wrapping around a kebab or kefta or scooping up dal, in just over 30 minutes with minimal active time.
Friends of mine took some cooking classes when they were travelling in India and this was one of the recipes they came back with.

eeyore150's picture

Flatbread HELP!

August 15, 2011 - 11:53am -- eeyore150

I regularly make flatbread, using a bread machine to make the dough, then rolling out flat and throwing onto a hot griddle pan.  The breads start to bubble within a few seconds and when cooked (1 - 2 mins) are beautifully soft and puffy.

However, I recently cooked some for a dinner party, and to save time and effort, I rolled out the breads a couple of hours ahead of time, instead of rolling them immediately prior to cooking as I do normally.  I stacked them with sheets of grease proof paper between each bread and kept them at room temperature until I needed to cook them.

NicoleLEK's picture

Trends in the UK bread industry

July 7, 2011 - 6:26pm -- NicoleLEK

I am doing research on the U.K. bread industry, and I'm looking to better understand trends that are taking place. One trend I am studying is the use of flatbread. I'd like to talk to people who are familiar with this market to better research if this is a growing trend, and if so, why.

Can anyone help me better understand this?

austintexican's picture

Trying to make cornmeal flatbread that will wrap/fold like pita

May 19, 2011 - 11:35pm -- austintexican

Hi everyone, this is my first post on Fresh Loaf,

I'm trying to make a flatbread that tastes like mild cornbread (somewhere between an earthy, "maizey" white masa tortilla and the sweet yellow cornbread I grew up eating) that has the physical properties of pita bread, in that it is fluffy and breadlike, yet easly folds so that you can wrap it around fillings.

So far, I'm getting the taste and fluffy breadiness I want from the recipe below, but the flatbreads break and crumble when I try to fold them, even though the crust is relatively soft and they will flex a bit.

alayoyo's picture

odd surface on sourdough

April 29, 2011 - 11:19pm -- alayoyo

Hi. I had a wierd bread I have been making, and wondering if something is dangerous.


I have been making a sourdough flatbread.


I mix oatbran and buckwheat in a 3:1 proportion. A little bit of salt and molasses. Enough water to make a thick batter. I let it ferment until quite funky. Bake on a griddle, a bit thinner than a pancake. I eat with a schmear of pesto. I like it because it is fast, has a strong taste, and healthy. I had been making english muffins before and this is much easier.

MadAboutB8's picture

I made Tomato, Parmesan and Basil flatbread from Bouke Street Bakery cookbook this weekend with our home-grown peach tomatoes.

The tomato resembles cherry tomato in size, only with yellow colour. It tastes sweet and mild acidic with a beautiful aroma.

I tweaked the recipe a little by using sourdough starter instead of pre-ferment, which I believe give extra flavour.

The recipe is here.



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