Chapati Recipe (Indian Flatbread)
Chapati Recipe with tips & tricks to make them perfect & super soft every time! There is nothing better than a freshly made flatbread. With the freshest flavor and perfect texture, these homemade chapati are the absolute best! Once you master the technique of making soft chapati, you will never buy them from the stores. Serve them with dal, curries, stew or use them to make wraps, rolls, quesadillas, kothu roti or chapati noodles.
Chapati is a traditional unleavened Indian flatbread made with just 3 ingredients – whole wheat flour, ghee/oil & water. Optionally a little salt is added.
The term Chapati has been derived from the Hindi word “Chapat” meaning “slap” or “flat” which describes the traditional method of shaping chapati by slapping the dough in between the palms. (Source: Wikipedia). Later rolling pin has over taken this method of slapping the dough.
Though Chapati is made with the same ingredients as Roti, both are actually not the same.
Chapati Vs Roti
Roti also known as phulka is essentially puffed and is cooked without any fats like ghee or oil. Sometimes it is also cooked on a direct flame to help it puff. Once it is off the heat, ghee is smeared. Where as a chapati may or may not puff & is always cooked with fats on a tawa. It is never cooked on a direct flame.
Roti is never layered but chapati is sometimes layered. In Maharashtra and some parts of Karnataka a chapati is layered similar to Plain Paratha, but made with lesser Ghee or oil.
If you have grown up or lived in South India or Western Indian states, you will find that the terms ‘Chapati’ and ‘Roti’ are not used interchangeably. We understand a Chapati means cooked on tawa with oil or ghee, while roti means puffed & cooked on dry heat without fats.
For the same reasons, the flavor of Chapati is very different from Roti/ Phulka.
Roti is always round but a chapati can be round, triangle or even in between these two. Though the process of making the dough for both Chapati and Roti is same, some people use milk or Indian buttermilk in place of water to knead the dough.
Again Chapati means different to different people. It depends on where you have grown up or what is made as chapati in your family. A lot of people shape the dough to single layer while many make layered chapati.
In this post I share both the methods of rolling, with step by step photos.
How to Make Chapati (Stepwise Photos)
1. Add 2 cups whole wheat flour to a wide mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. Usually chapati is not salted but if you want you may add ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 to 1½ tablespoon oil (optional). Pour ¾ cup warm or hot water. I use hot water, not boiling hot. (read my pro tips section below)
2. Begin to mix to form a soft dough. If using hot water use a spoon to mix first, later use your fingers. If the dough is too dry, splash a bit of warm water and form the dough. Do not make it sticky.
3. Knead for a minute or 2. Smoothen the dough with your palm. It should be soft, not tight & dent easily when you poke with your finger. Smear some water all over the dough. Cover and rest for a minimum of 30 minutes. (read pro tips section below)
4. After 30 mins, knead the dough well until soft and pliable. If it is dry, wet your hand and knead. You can do this a few times as required. It can easily turn sticky if you splash water at this stage. So don’t.
5. Divide the dough to 6 parts to make layered chapati. To make single layered, divide to 8 portions. Roll each ball in between your palms until smooth. Keep them covered until the end.
Rolling Single Layer Chapati
6. Flatten a dough ball and dip it in atta. Dust off the excess flour. Too much flour can make them hard.
7. Start rolling on the clean kitchen counter or on a rolling board. After rolling 2 to 3 times, lift up the dough and rotate it a little in anti-clock wise direction. Roll it again 2 to 3 times.
8. Roll lightly without putting too much pressure on the dough else it will get stuck at the bottom. Do not roll the chapati continuously, instead lift-up & rotate in clock-wise direction a little after every 3 to 5 rolls to ensure it does not get stuck to the board. As you roll, you may sprinkle little flour as required, if you feel it is about to stick. Roll it evenly all over, making sure you roll from one end to the other.
No Pressure, Even Rolling, Sprinkle flour only as required. If you want you may take a look at my Aloo Paratha Video, where I show the rolling part.
9. Gently dust off each rolled chapati with your hand to remove excess flour, if any. Transfer them to a clean dry place on the counter, away from wind and heat. We don’t want them to dry out. You can roll about 3 to 4 and then start cooking, while you make the rest.
10. Heat a tawa/ pan (heavy bottom) on a medium high heat. When it is hot enough (not smoking hot), transfer the chapati to the pan. Within a few minutes, you will see bubbles over the chapati.
It is essential to regulate the heat when you are cooking the chapati. Too high will instantly burn them. Too low or even moderately low heat will make them hard and crispy/crusty. It is very important to cook them on a medium high heat, else they dry out.
11. Quickly turn it to the other side & cook for a minute or 2.
12. Turn it again to the other side, you will see it begins to puff up.
13. To make it puff evenly, press down with a wooden spatula in the places where it doesn’t puff. Do not use a sharp spatula, it can easily poke holes in them and prevent from puffing. Traditionally people use cloth or even bare hand.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t puff, it is not essential for a chapati to puff.
14. Spread a few drops or a spoon of ghee or oil on both the sides. You need to be quick at this stage. It is normal for the pan to smoke as soon as you add ghee.
15. Cook for a few seconds or a minute to make sure your chapati is cooked all over, including the edges.
16. Remove to to a plate & stack.
Rolling Layered Chapati
17. To make layered chapati. You will first roll it to a 4 to 5 inch disc. Smear a few drops of oil or melted ghee all over and sprinkle very little flour (2 pinches).
18. Fold it half way. Repeat the process of smearing ghee/oil and sprinkle flour.
19. Fold it further. You get a triangle. Sprinkle little flour if required and begin to roll.
20. Roll it evenly to give a triangle /round or an imperfect round shape. Do not stress much on the shape but make sure you roll it evenly all over. Make the size according to the size of your pan. I roll mine in between 7 to 7.5 inches because I use a 10 inch pan.
21. Heat a tawa or a pan on a medium heat. When it is hot enough, transfer the chapati.
22. When you see bubbles, turn it to the other side and cook pressing down lightly with a spatula. These will always puff because of the folding/layers.
23. Spread ghee and cook on both the side turning them too & fro for a few seconds or a minute. Make sure you cook them on the edges well.
I stack them directly over a plate while cooking. If you want you may line the plate with a clean muslin cloth. Once done cooking, I fold them while still hot to retain the softness. Transfer to a container and place on a cooling rack. Loosely cover so they don’t sweat.
24. To make the next chapati, reduce the heat and wipe with a thick clean cloth or kitchen tissue & spatula. Be careful as the pan is really hot. You will be able to skip this step, if you dust off the excess flour well after rolling each chapati.
Serve chapati hot or warm with your favorite curry, dal or stew.
Warm/ Hot water: Hot water works well for me, better than warm water. Hot water softens the bran in the atta so you get softer chapati. I use Chakki atta from Indian and Arab brands. So I am not sure if it works the same way with other brands. The water has to be hot but not boiling. I bring the water to a rolling boil and turn off. The temperature comes down slightly by the time I measure the flour.
Oil: I always use oil to make my dough. I feel it softens the bran, makes softer chapati & the dough is easier to roll.
Kneading Dough: I don’t knead the dough much before resting. I let it soak then knead well. If you want you can knead first and then rest. Never knead the dough without adding enough water. Kneading a dry dough will make hard flatbreads. Over kneading the dough can make hard chapati.
Choosing Atta: All chakki atta are not same. Experiment with different brands until you find one that gives you good results. You do everything right and still you get hard, rubbery and dry chapatis, then a lot of times it is due to the kind of wheat or the extra bran that is added to the atta.
Rolling Chapati: Making perfectly shaped chapati requires lots of practice which can be acquired only with consistent trials & practice.
Regulating heat: You can use a good quality non-stick or a cast iron tawa to cook your chapati. But regulating the heat is very important. You need to constantly keep adjusting the heat especially if using Cast iron pan.
Tawa/Pan: Please note that once you begin to cook your chapati in the tawa, it won’t work anymore to cook dosas. So always have one separately for all your flatbreads.
Chapati Recipe (Indian Flatbread)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 2 cups chakki atta (stone ground whole wheat flour)
- ¾ cup warm water (or hot water, 2 to 4 tbsps more as required read notes)
- ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1 to 1½ tablespoons oil (optional, read notes)
- 2 to 2½ tablespoons ghee or oil
- Add atta to a wide mixing bowl & make a well in the center. Add oil and salt if using. Pour warm or hot water and begin to mix. If using hot water use a spoon first and then your hand.
- Mix well to form a soft dough, splashing more water only as required. Knead the dough for a minute or 2. It has to be soft and not sticky or crumbly.
- Wet your hands and smear water all over the dough ball. Cover and rest for a minimum of 30 mins. You can leave up to 2 hours at room temperature.
How to Make Chapati
- When you are ready to make the chapati, knead the dough until soft and pliable. If the dough looks dry, moisten your palm and knead. It should not be sticky.
- Divide the dough to 6 portions to make layered chapati or to 8 portions to make single layer chapati. Gently roll the balls in between your palms to smoothen them. Cover until you use up.
- Slightly flatten a ball and dip in flour to coat it with flour all over. Shake it gently to dust off the excess flour.
- Begin to roll the dough evenly without putting pressure. After 2 to 3 rolls, lift it and move it in clock-wise direction a little. Continue to roll it and then move it in clock-wise direction. If the dough begins to stick to the rolling pin or to the kitchen counter, sprinkle little flour. (not too much)
- Single Layer Chapati: Repeat these steps until you make a 7 to 8 inch chapati.
- Layered Chapati: After rolling the dough to 4 to 5 inches disc, smear melted ghee or a few drops of oil and then sprinkle 2 pinches of flour. Fold it to half, to make a half circle. Smear oil and flour and fold again to make a triangle. (Check the pictures). Sprinkle a bit of flour and roll to a 7 inch chapati.
- After rolling the chapati, take it to one of your hands & dust the excess flour with the other hand. Transfer to a dry place, away from wind and heat. After rolling 3 to 4 begin to cook.
- Heat a tawa/ pan on a medium high heat. It should be hot enough but not smoking.
- Gently transfer the chapati to the hot tawa and wait until you see a few bubbles. Using a spatula, turn it to the other side. Let cook for a minute or 2. (If required regulate the flame to medium. This depends on the kind of stove & pan.)
- Turn back to the other side. It will ideally begin to puff. Press down with a spatula gently in place where it doesn't puff up. This helps the chapati to cook and puff. Keep rotating it and cook on the edges too.
- Spread some ghee or oil all over and turn it to the other side. Spread ghee here as well. You will begin to see some smoke from the pan. It is normal. Remove to a plate.
- Before cooking the next chapati, reduce the heat and wipe your tawa with a thick clean cloth or tissues. Be careful while you do this. To avoid this step, make sure you dust off the excess flour from the chapati after rolling.
- Stack the hot chapatis on a plate. Once done cooking all of them, fold each to a triangle, while still hot. Transfer to a container & place over a cooling rack. Cover partially so they don't sweat. This keep them soft.
- Serve chapati with curries, stew, dal or use them to make wraps, rolls etc.
- If you are in India, use warm water to make the dough. I use hot water, not boiling hot.
- Oil makes the dough softer & makes rolling easier. I use 1½ tablespoons for 2 cups atta. While this is optional, you may try out both the ways to check the difference.
- The amount of water to use depends on the kind of flour. Some soak up more, while some don’t.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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I tried your chapati recipe and they turned out so good in the first try. Thank you for the easy instructions.
Thank you Emily for trying and sharing how they turned out for you.
Hey there – thanks so much for this! Hope you are well. Cindy
Yes doing good! I really took so long to share this recipe. Sorry to keep you waiting!
Sorry the name was an auto correct. Swasthi
Dear Swastika, is chapati flour same as atta? I am trying to understand before I try your recipe. I have made your Naan a few times and my family loves them. Thank you. Please reply
Not always! Some times chapati flour has other ingredients mixed. It depends on the brand. A closer look at the ingredients on the pack should clarify this. Look for 100% whole wheat flour/ atta. If you don’t find Indian atta, any whole wheat flour should work. But sieve it to remove the excess bran.
Thank you for all the recipes you teach us. They turn out delicious always. Your dal makhani is my favorite. Excited to try chapati soon.
Happy to know Bethany! Thank you so much.