Making soft chapatis without using oil is an art and can sometimes feel like chasing a unicorn. I have been there and can completely understand the frustration of hard, chewy and dry chapatis.
I never use oil to make chapatis.
The secret behind the softness of chapatis is
- High moisture content
- Well kneaded and rested dough
You can make soft chapatis without using oil by following all the steps listed above in this blog post. The chapatis will turn out perfect, soft and fluffy everytime.
There are 3 steps to making soft chapatis:-
- Mixing the dough
- Rolling the chapati
- Cooking it on the pan or tawa
Here are some pointers and step by step methods that would help you make soft chapatis without using oil.
Making the dough for soft chapatis-
- In a bowl take 1 cup of flour and start adding water to it slowly and mixing by hand.
- You can also do this in a food processor with the dough attachment.
- For 1 cup of flour, it usually takes between 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water to get the right consistency dough.
- Do not add all the water at the same time but gradually and then keep mixing it.
- Make sure you use plenty of water to knead the dough. Enough to make it pliable but not sticky.
- Once mixed well, let the dough rest for some time i.e. 15 mins before using it. This is done so that the gluten can form and chapatis are easy to roll and soft.
- Make sure you use the right flour for making the chapati dough. This is the one that we use everyday. You can buy any whole wheat flour.
- The dough should not be very stiff or very runny. It should be the same consistency as the play dough that kids play with.
- You can know the dough is the right consistency if you press a finger in it and it comes out clean, without any dough sticking to it.
- When you press your finger in the dough and it comes out with dough sticking to it then it is too sticky. The way to fix it is to add 1 tbsp. of dough at a time and to mix it well. Keep doing this until your dough is well mixed and when you press it with your finger then it comes out clean with no dough sticking to it.
- Your flour is too dry if you cannot make balls of it without any cracks showing. Slowly add 1tbsp of water at a time and mix it well until the dough consistency changes and you can get smooth dough balls.
Rolling the chapati –
- Make small balls which are the size of table tennis balls from the rested dough you made.
- Make sure you have some excess dry flour and cover your dough balls with the dry flour you have.
- Keep the dry dough dusted ball in the center of your chakla or kitchen counter if you are using that as your base.
- Press the dough ball flat from your fingers and then start rolling it with the rolling pin.
- While rolling try to roll it evenly on all sides. Do not worry too much about the perfect round shape in the initial stages
- It’s more important to roll evenly so that the chapati gets evenly cooked. You can work on the round shape once you have made chapatis 4-5 times.
- When rolling, roll only on one side and do not flip it over.
- For beginners a good way to achieve the round shape would be to rotate the chapati manually by 90 degrees after every roll.
- Do not apply too much pressure when rolling the chapatis
- There should not be any folds or holes in the rolled chapati else it will not puff up.
- If you are struggling with making round chapatis then refer to this post for more tips.
Cooking the chapati –
- Heat the pan or iron tawa that you are going to cook the chapati on
- Make sure that the tawa is neither too hot nor too cold. You can check that the temperature is right by putting a drop of water on it. If it sizzles then it means that the tawa is at the right temperature. Right temperature is around 160-180’C
- Put the chapati on the hot tawa and cook it for 15 sec. It needs to be cooked very slightly and not all the way through. Do not let any brown spots appear on this side and make sure you flip before that.
- After 15 secs flip the roti to the other side and cook it until you notice some brown spots on it.
- Remove the roti from the tawa and cook it directly on the gas flame for 5-10 secs. When you put it on the gas flame directly make sure that you do it on the first side which is the thinner side and is cooked the least before as we were going to cook it directly on the gas flame.
- Don’t turn chapati on the pan more than once.
- Make sure you buy a tawa with a heat resistant handle as you would be moving it often to cook the chapatis directly on flame.
- Place the chapatis in a closed container that will stop the moisture from escaping.
- Grease it with ghee and this will keep the chapatis soft longer by trapping the moisture within.
Some of the factors that would help in making soft chapatis without using oil are :-
Using the right equipment-
- Make sure that you have a rolling pin that you are comfortable rolling with. It should not be too big or too small.
- You should have the right pan or tawa to cook the chapati on and it should have a heat resistant handle. This is needed because you would be moving the tawa often to cook the roti directly on gas stove fire.
- Tongs to hold on the chapati when cooking it directly on the gas flame.
- A hot casserole that would keep the chapatis hot and also keep the moisture locked
Using the right flour –
- The dough used should be whole wheat flour meant for making chapatis. Here is the one that we use everyday.
- If you use all purpose flour then the chapatis may turn out to be stretchy or chewy.
- If the bran is very high in the all purpose flour then the chapatis may taste bitter.
Kneading the dough and letting it rest –
When mixing the dough knead it well. You can do it by hands and also in a food processor. Kneading will help in gluten to form and so will resting and this will make the dough pliable.
The dough will be easier to roll and maneuver if its rested for 15 mins or more. If we don’t knead or let the dough rest the chapatis do not fluff and the edges become hard and broken.
Dough Balls Shape and Smoothness-
The lemon size dough balls that you make to roll should be perfect round. They should be smooth without any cracks in them.
A smooth round ball will ensure even edges during rolling without any cracks.
Rolling thin and even thickness chapatis –
If the chapatis rolled are thick then they will either remain undercooked or it will take a long time to cook them well. When these thick chapatis are kept on the flame too long they become hard and brittle.
In case of uneven rolling the side that is thicker will have the problem or undercooking or if cooked well will become very hard.
Cooking on high temperature and on gas stove flame directly-
Softness of the chapatis is due to the high moisture content. If we cook them for too long then all the moisture will be lost making them hard.
This is the reason why a chapati is cooked on medium high heat and on the gas flame directly. This ensures that its cooked but not all the moisture content is lost in the cooking process.
Keeping the moisture locked in the cooked chapatis-
Cooked chapatis can lose their softness if not stored right. It is advised to put some ghee on top of them to keep them moist and also store in closed containers to avoid any moisture loss.