Chapatti, An Easy Flat Bread to Make at Home

Chapatti is a kind of unleavened flat bread that can be quickly cooked in a pan. Its simplicity, and the fact that it can be rolled up and kept for an opportune time throughout the day, make it one of the most popular breads in India (and among lovers of Indian food world-wide). There isn’t anything to a chapatti beyond flour, salt, water, and oil, but it still has a pleasant flavour and texture due to a couple of tricks that happen during the rolling and cooking process. Of course, the chapatti isn’t meant to be eaten on its own, so much as it is to be used as a vehicle for lifting curry out of a dish and into the mouth. It is meant to be part of a more elaborate meal.

Here is a recipe for four chapattis, which isn’t many, but it is enough to serve at a meal being shared with one friend.


  • 1 ½ cups of flour
  • luke warm water (added gradually until the dough is the right consistency)
  • a pinch of salt
  • coconut oil (or any oil you happen to have).


  • Note on the flour: the particular flour used in India isn’t necessarily available here, but I find unbleached white flour works reasonably well. I’m sure any sort of flour would yield a decent result. The Spartan nature of this recipe allows for that.

Pour the flour in a mixing bowl; add a pinch of salt, and a few drops of oil. You won’t need much oil. If you are using coconut and it is winter, just melt it on low heat on the stove until it is liquid. Now gradually add warm water while mixing with your hand until you have a firm dough that you can knead without it sticking to your hand. If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour.

Once you have kneaded the dough for five minutes or so, let it sit for 10 minutes to rest. You can let it rest longer, or freeze it, or anything you like. Just leave it for a while and then come back. After this, squish the dough out into a log and divide it into four equal parts.

chapati - fan fold

chapati -rolling out shapes

On a board, with flour handy to keep things from sticking, roll each dough piece out flat and then fold it in in small folds, on one side then the other, like a fan. I provided a photo, if this is confusing. After it is in a fan shape, roll the fan up from one end so you have a circle that has a spiral shape to it and pinch the last part closed. Again, I provided a photo. This spiralling effect will create layers inside the chapatti when it is cooked. Repeat with the other three pieces of dough.

Now heat your skillet to medium high. Meanwhile, take your rolling pin and squish the spirals down then roll them out into round shapes around 1/8 thick. If they are too thin, they will not cook properly, and if they are too thick, you will have a similar problem. Have a little bowl and a marinade brush handy by the stove. Put a chapatti, dry, down in the pan and paint the back with oil. Start from the outside rim, paint all around, and then work the oil into the middle.

chapati - puffing up in the pan

After a minute, flip the chapatti and paint the other side. It should start to make a pleasant sizzling sound at this point. You will start to note a bit of bubbling happening. Check the bottom and if there are some raised areas that are brown (after a minute or two) flip the chapatti back to its original side. At this point, if all is going well, the chapatti should puff up all around. This puff up means things are going great. Once it is puffed and the bottom side is brown in certain areas, take it out of the pan and drain it on a paper towel. Move onto the next one.

chapati - done with a little curry

This is an easy recipe, but the exact timing takes a little bit of practice. Your chapattis can be rolled up and saved for a day or two, or (better yet) served with a delicious curry right away. I also find they are great as a breakfast item, served with an omelette. Enjoy!

Written By:

Born and raised in the mysterious East (by which I mean Ontario and Quebec, not Asia), Adam migrated out to British Columbia in search of adventure and fortune. He had been at different times a scholar, a musician, a poet and a ...

Comments are closed.