An easy, East African Chapati recipe that’s made without yeast or baking powder. You’ll love how soft and pliable this flatbread is, making it perfect to use as wrap or to dunk into sauces. The possibilities are endless!
What is Chapati?
East African Chapati recipe also known as Roti, is an unleavened flatbread originating from the Indian subcontinent. It’s a staple in India Pakistan, East Africa and the Caribbean. If you know anything about East Africa, then you surely know that no holidays are complete without some east African chapati. They are the holiday dish, and I must admit that this unleavened flat bread makes it to our table regularly…not just the holiday.
Origin of Chapati
Chapati originates from India and was brought to Kenya during the Indian migration to East Africa in 1895.
Apart from Kenya, East African chapati is also a staple in countries like Tanzania, Uganda, Zanzibar, Burundi among others.
Unlike the Indian Chapati that has no layers, the east African Chapati is multi-layered and use a substantial amount of oil in the preparation.
What goes in East African Chapati?
Chapatis consists of wheat flour mixed into dough with water, oil and salt in a mixing bowl and is cooked on a flat skillet.
The Art of Making East African Flatbread
- Making super-soft, multi-layered, east African chapati might seem intimidating at the beginning, but once you master a few hacks, it’s easy. The most critical factors in achieving the best east African Chapati is having the perfect water to all-purpose-flour ration and kneading for the right amount of time.
- Using too much flour will result in tough east African chapati. On the same note, kneading the mixture for the right amount of time is mandatory. I usually work my dough for nothing less than 10 to 15 minutes by hand. The longer you knead it, the softer the chapati will be.
- To form layers in the east African flatbread, I start by rolling out the dough as flat as I can. After that, I smear the surface with ghee, butter or cooking oil and top with a pinch of all-purpose flour. Then, I roll it up like a yoga mat. After that, I roll the mat-like dough in a coil and roll it out again flat before frying.
Tips for Perfect East African Flatbread
- Every time you are kneading a sticky dough by hand, wear disposable kitchen hand gloves. I find that wearing disposable kitchen hand gloves make it easier to it.
- Don´t be tempted to add much flour while kneading the dough because the chapati will be tough.
- Alternatively, cover and rest the dough for about 15 minutes if you are having difficulty. This step helps to relax the gluten which automatically lightens the kneading process.
- Use a flat Skillet to cook chapati and adjust your chapati size to your pan size.
- Store your leftover chapati in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Warm them for a few seconds in the microwave or for one minute on a frying pan before eating.
- Alternatively, freeze your chapati for up to 3 months. Just remove from the freezer few hours before your meal. Heat for one minute in a frying pan once defrosted and Enjoy.
East African Chapati
- 500 g All-purpose flour (sifted to remove any lumps)
- 100 g All-purpose flour (for kneading and dusting)
- 300 ml warm water
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup ghee/butter/oil
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and mix thoroughly.
- Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a small saucepan and pour the oil evenly on the flour mixture. Proceed to mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon till the oil cools down.
- After that, rub the flour mixture between your hands for a few minutes to form light breadcrumbs. This process will give you flaky east African chapati.
- Now, add the water a little at a time, mixing with your hands until you have a slightly sticky dough.
- Meanwhile, cover and rest the dough for 10 minutes. This step will dramatically ease the kneading process.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it becomes smooth and elastic.
- Proceed to transfer the dough in a lightly grease a bowl, cover and set aside for about 10 to 20 minutes. It will allow the gluten to relax and make it easier to roll out.
- Turn the dough to a lightly floured surface; divide dough into eight equal parts and shape each piece into a ball.
- Roll out each dough ball into a circle and brush the entire surface with some melted butter/ghee/oil.
- After that, sprinkle some all-purpose flour on the rolled out dough and fold it as you would fold up a yoga mat. Go ahead and roll the mat-like-dough into a coil and tuck up the end in the middle of the loop.
- Cover the coiled balls with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest for about 10 minutes. It will allow the gluten to relax and make the dough easier to roll out.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll each coiled ball out into a flat disc of approximately 25 cm.
- Heat a frying pan on medium heat, lay the chapati on the pan and cook for a few seconds until the surface forms bubbles. Flip the chapati on the other side and lightly oil the top surface with ghee/butter/oil.
- Flip again and fry the oiled side while lightly oiling the top part. At this point, the chapati will start puffing up. Use a flat spatula to press the chapati to the skillet gently. Flip for the last time and fry for another few seconds until the chapati develops light golden brown spots on both sides.
- Finally, place the chapatis in a container lined with a paper towel and cover.
- Store your leftover east African chapati in a sealed container in the fridge and warm for a few seconds in the microwave or for one minute on a skillet before eating.
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