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.
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?
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! 🙂