Burundian Flat Bread: Chapati

Despite the title, chapati bread is definitely not something that’s made in Burundi alone. It actually originates from India. However, the version of chapati recipe we’re taking a look at today is more common in different East African countries, Burundi being one of them. Chapati goes well with curries and stews, but you can also simply eat it as it is with some butter or chutney.

A little background of Chapati

Chapati is an unleavened flatbread that originates from India. It’s a staple food in India and in the subcontinent. It is believed to have been introduced to other parts of the world, such as the Caribbean islands, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Africa, by merchants from India.

Four chapati breads on a kitchen towel.

The word ‘chapat’ means “slap”,”flat”. The name ‘chapati’ has come from the traditional method of making the bread where the thin round dough is formed by slapping the dough between the wetted palms of the hands. With each slap, the round of dough is rotated. 

Despite having the same name for the bread, East African chapati is a bit different from Indian chapati. In India, chapatis are made of wheat flour, salt and water. In East Africa, however, it is common that oil is used as well and that the wheat flour is replaced with all-purpose flour.

How to make Chapati?

There’s two different types of chapati – either plain or flaky ones. This recipe is for the flaky version. However, if you don’t care about the flakiness, you can simply skip the rolling step in the recipe.

The dough is kneaded for about 14 minutes. It should become very soft, smooth and elastic. If you’re using a stand mixer, have it knead about 12 minutes. However, keep an eye on it and keep occasionally adding some flour so the dough is not sticking to the bowl – don’t overdo it, though!

The rolling step might seem complicated at first, but it’s actually not at all and it’s entirely worth it. I found this Youtube video to be very helpful for understanding the process.

Chapatis are cooked on a flat skillet, but no oil is added at first – only the other side of the chapati is oiled. So remember to clean your skillet after each one. They should also cook quite quickly and should take up to 5 minutes per chapati. If it takes too long, it will become more dry and hard.

This recipe gives you around 5-6 chapatis, although it depends on the size you’ll want as well.

Let’s get to baking now. Just look at these – don’t you want to just tear into it and eat all of them straight away?

Chapati bread on a kitchen towel.

As usual, let me know down in the comments if you tried it and how you liked it! If you want to read more about life in Burundi and check out other recipes, see my post here!


Note: in the “Around the World” challenges, I try to find the most authentic recipes available. I will not make adjustments myself, other than converting the measurements and possibly giving some additional tips in the steps. This way, you’ll get the same traditional experience when trying yourself! 🙂

Burundian Flat bread: Chapati

Burundian Flat bread: Chapati

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Chapati bread is an unleavened flatbread that originates from India. Here we take a look at the East African version of it. It goes well with curries and other dishes or you can just eat it as it is with some butter!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus some extra)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp oil (plus some extra)
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add flour and make a well. Then add sugar and salt, followed by water and oil.
  2. Knead to form a soft and sticky dough.
  3. Once the ingredients have incorporated, let it rest for about 5 minutes.
  4. Place dough on a heavily floured board and knead for about 8-14 minutes. Continue to flour dough as needed. Be careful not to overdo it, though! The dough should be very soft, elastic and smooth. If you're using a stand mixer, let it knead for about 12 minutes - but keep an eye on it and add flour when necessary.
  5. Divide dough into about 6 portions, according to your preference. Let it rest again for about 10-15 minutes. The resting of the dough helps to relax the gluten and not only make it easier to work with but also produces more tender chapati.
  6. Roll the dough out into a circle - they do not have to be perfect circles.
  7. If you wish, you can start cooking already at this step. However, if you want flaky chapatis with layers, continue with the next steps.
  8. Lightly oil the rolled out chapati dough. Be gentle with the oil.
  9. Start rolling the dough up from one end all the way to the other end. Try to gently stretch the roll longer.
  10. Now, start from the one end and roll the dough up once more. It should look like a cinnamon roll. Repeat for all chapatis.
  11. Heat up the pan. If you can add a water drop and it sizzles away, it's hot enough. Don't add oil just yet.
  12. Roll out the rolled-up chapati from the centre outwards. It doesn't need to be too thin.
  13. Place the dough on the pan.
  14. While the first side cooks, heavily oil the other side of the dough making sure you oil the edges too.
  15. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on both sides, rotating as needed until the chapati is golden brown.
  16. Serve warm and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 292Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 585mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 6g

Did you try this recipe?

Share your experience down in the comments or let me know on Instagram!



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