Chapati & Roti (Flatbread)

31 Jul

Print the recipe card!  chapati and roti (flatbread)

Chapati and Roti are super-simple flatbreads perfect for the stovetop, grill or campfire. Chapati and Roti are very similar and often used interchangeably. Depending on who you ask, the major differences appear to be that Chapati are larger and thinner, and cooked on a dry griddle; whereas Roti are smaller and thicker, and are cooked on a lightly oiled griddle. Whatever you call them, they are delicious and a wonderful addition to your FoodStorageCookbook. This recipe makes 6-8 flatbreads, roughly 6″ in diameter.

Stack of prepared Roti

There are several different recipes for these flatbreads, and some families consider it almost as closely a guarded secret as their garam masala and curry blends. In any case, the following was adapted from a recipe given to me by a co-worker, Indira, before she returned to Jaipur to be married. If you’re out there listening Indie, THANK YOU!!


Roti ingredients - whole wheat flour, water, oil and salt

2 c whole wheat flour (see notes)

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

¾ c warm water (enough for a kneadable dough)


Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly until dough forms.

Ball of kneaded Roti dough

Knead the dough smooth (about 5 minutes), cover, and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes up to several hours. Note that the dough won’t rise because there are no leavening agents, we’re just letting the flour absorb the water and the gluten develop.

After resting, knead the dough for 1-2 minutes, without adding any more water, to relax the gluten; and divide the dough into 10-12 balls about the size of a golfball.

Roll each dough ball in dry whole wheat flour to lightly coat it so it doesn’t stick when you’re rolling it out.

Rolling Roti dough balls in flour

Then roll the dough out. For Chapati, you want thin 6″ circles (you can use a tortilla press if you have one); for Roti, you want slightly thicker 3-4” circles. Don’t worry if they’re not perfect circles or perfectly flat and smooth, these are supposed to be rustic! You could even shape and flatten these out by hand if you have the patience.

Roti dough rolled out

Place an ungreased (lightly greased for Roti) griddle or cast-iron skillet on the stove at medium-high heat. When hot, place the rolled-out dough down on the griddle. When bubbles are visible, turn over and cook until the bottom side browns as well.

Roti beginning to bubble in skillet

Browned Roti in skillet

If you are cooking on a gas stove, grill or campfire, hold the cooked chapati/roti with a pair of tongs, and place it directly over the flame for a few seconds, until the chapati puffs up. Turn and repeat on the other side.

Puffing the Roti over open flame

This one is slightly over-puffed; it’s a bit difficult (and dangerous!) to take pictures when cooking over open flames.

If you are cooking on an electric stove or griddle, keep the chapati/roti on the griddle and gently press the chapat/roti with the spoon handle or chopstick in several places; flip and repeat on the other side. This dimpling procedure should make the chapati puff up; but if you press too hard or too long, the chapati may become too crunchy or scorch.

Remove the chapati from the heat, and lightly brush one side with butter, oil or ghee to help them stay moist. (I also put mine in a tortilla warmer, or invert a plate over them since it’s very arid here.)


While you can certainly use AP flour or pre-ground whole wheat flour for this recipe, I’ve found that the flavor, texture and puffing is superior if you grind the flour right before you prepare the dough. One cup of whole wheat berries yields approximately 1 ½ cups of flour, so I ground 2 c of berries to make this recipe.

Whole wheat berries

Since this isn’t pastry or cake, I only passed the wheat through my mill twice. Initially on a medium-coarse setting, and then back in again on the finest setting… plenty fine for a rustic bread.

Bowl of freshly milled whole wheat flour

7 Responses to “Chapati & Roti (Flatbread)”

  1. myfoodstoragecookbook August 1, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    Yum! I’ll look forward to trying this authentic recipe you inherited! Besides being good, flat bread is also nutritious, ultra cheap to make (costing pennies), takes very little energy/fuel to cook and can be jazzed up with added in herbs. Just about any dish that you would have had rice with can be swapped out for flat bread for a change of pace. Okay, I’m hungry now. Curry is sounding good 😉

    • pebbles August 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      What other grains could be used other than or with the wheat?

      • plicketycat August 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

        I’ve been somewhat successful with quinoa, amaranth and millet flours. They don’t puff up quite as nicely, but they make a passable flatbread.

        Of course, you can also use corn flour/masa since this is essentially the same process as tortillas, just a little thicker.

  2. Jocelyn August 4, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    I made this recipe for dinner tonight, and it was delicious! We tried both the chapati type and the roti; both were well received by my family. Thank you for your clear, detailed instructions. I would like to print the recipe for my files. Is there a print friendly version available? It’s probably on your post somewhere, and I’m just overlooking it. Also, do you have any tips for cooking the bread over an open flame? I tried one, just for fun, and it ended up a disaster.

    • myfoodstoragecookbook August 6, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

      I’ll leave the cooking over flames question to Jennine, however on the printing, there’s a button at the bottom of all the posts now (as of today) to easily print them. I’ve been meaning to add the feature for a while now, thanks to your comment I was reminded to do it! — Megan

      • Jocelyn August 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

        Thank you for the print button. However, what I was hoping for is a way to print just the basic recipe and instructions, a short and sweet version, if you will, that I can put in my recipe binder. That’s okay, I’ll just type up a Word document for myself; the recipe is worth this little bit of work.

    • plicketycat August 10, 2012 at 5:18 am #

      I normally cook these on the grill or campfire in a cast iron skillet or griddle. In a campfire, it\’s easier to scoop some of the hot coals out to the side and put the cast iron on those rather than trying to hold the pan over the flames. Then you can puff them by holding them in long handled tongs at the edge of the fire… sort of like roasting marshmallows.

      I have cooked these in a campfire without a skillet by placing a large flat stone in the flames for several minutes and then pulling it over to the edge out of the flames, brushing it off and cooking the flatbreads right on the surface. You may have to put the stone back in a couple times to reheat, or have more than one stone going at a time, but they should cook up fairly well. Just make sure that the stone you use isn\’t heavily veined with quartz or straight out of the creek bed, since these tend to explode when heated in a open fire.

      Good Luck!

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