Indian (Flat) Breads


The chapati recipe from Kumud Gokani’s cookbook, ‘Feed the Beloved Soul’

Eating is trivial if you look from the outside. If you look from the inside it is profound, it is a miracle—that you can eat bread and the bread is turned into blood, that it becomes your flesh, that it becomes your bones, that it even becomes your marrow.

You eat bread, and the bread becomes your thoughts, dreams. It is a miracle. It is the profoundest thing that is happening. When you are eating, it is no ordinary thing. It is creative. While chewing bread you are creating life, unknowingly, unconsciously. You are making a thousand and one things possible. Tomorrow you may paint: and that bread that you had eaten has become painting. Tomorrow you may sing, or right now you may do something which would not be possible if the bread was not there.”

Osho, The First Principle, Ch 8

Freshly made Indian breads are so simple to make and a luxury for your meal. This section gives you all you need to know about how you can afford this simple man’s luxury.

One word about the rolling: it takes practice and patience. After you make your dough, pull out a ping-pong-ball-sized amount of dough and, using your palms, roll it into a smooth ball. Use dusting flour if needed. Flatten this ball, use dusting flour, put it on your rolling board, and carefully start rolling with a rolling pin. The circle will keep getting bigger and flatter as you roll. Dip your chapati into dusting flour as often as you need without overflouring it. The trick is to get the right amount of pressure: too much and it will stick to the rolling pin and/or the board, too little and it will not grow. A little practice and you should be fine. Once you have the flow, you will find that the chapati will turn itself on your board, and you just need to keep up your rolling action with the right amount of pressure. Good luck!

Typically, chapatis are 2 to 3 millimeters thick and parathas and naan about 4 to 5 millimeters thick.

Chapati making - from Kumud's cookbook

Chapati (Griddle-Baked Bread)

This is the simplest of all Indian breads and the most common. It is a staple and goes with virtually everything. It is made almost daily in Gujarati kitchens everywhere.

My children still remember coming home from school to the delicious smell of roasting chapatis. They hung out around me in our small kitchen, telling me about their day at school and things that happened to them or their friends. Sometimes they helped by applying ghee onto the chapatis or by forming balls of dough that were then ready for rolling—and other times they tried their hand at creating different chapati shapes. The children were always fascinated by the ballooning of the chapati. And then of course they wanted to eat the chapati balloons immediately—a hot and steaming prelunch treat, which was wolfed down with ghee and sugar.

1 cup finely ground whole-grain wheat or spelt flour
1 tsp oil
Salt, if desired
Warm water
Ghee to apply on chapati

Set aside 2 Tbsp of flour for dusting. Make a soft dough by mixing the remaining flour with the oil and just enough water. Knead well, cover with a cloth, and leave for ten minutes. Then form a ping-pong-sized ball, flatten it, and, using dusting flour, roll out a thin, tortilla-like circle, about 5 inches in diameter.

For roasting

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. When it’s hot, dexterously lay the chapati flat and facedown in the pan. When small bubbles appear on the surface, immediately turn. Roast the other side well. To puff and roast properly, place a chapati grill directly on the fire. (Chapati grills are available in Indian grocery shops or online.) Place your chapati facedown on the grill. When it puffs up and has some brown spots, remove and place on a rack to cool. It is normal that your chapati puffs up on the fire and flattens when cooled. Spread ghee or butter on it and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 chapatis.

From Kumud Gokani’s cookbook, ‘Feed the Beloved Soul‘ – photo by Champak – available from

Read Sharon Johnson’s review, Feed the Beloved Soul: Ayurvedic Vegetarian Cookbook

Kumud GokaniKumud Gokani grew up in India where she studied psychology, economics and philosophy. She lived many years in Kenya and India and cooked for Osho’s community in Pune and in Oregon (a sannyasin since 1975). She currently resides in Ashland, Oregon, USA – together with her husband Dr Gokul (Krishna) Gokani) – teaching various Indian languages, conducting cooking classes at community centres and universities. She is the author of two cookbooks, ‘Cooking with Kumud’ and ‘Feed the Beloved Soul’.

Comments are closed.