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Chapati — Whole-Wheat Bread Recipe

Excerpted from ‘Ammu: Indian Home Cooking to Nourish Your Soul’

spinner image Chapati — Whole-Wheat Bread on a woven basket and a cutting board
Laura Edwards

Makes 6 chapatis

This is the everyday bread eaten by many families in India. Chapati flour is readily available in many South Asian grocery stores and also in mainstream supermarkets. If you can’t find it, you can use sifted whole-wheat flour. Measure the flour after sifting and discarding the bran left in the sieve.

In some parts of India, the chapatis would be cooked and wrapped in a clean cloth, put into a closed basket or tin, and taken to the dinner table. As the bread cools, it becomes hard, so it is a bread that is meant to be eaten hot and immediately. Some of our food has uncomfortable roots of patriarchy.

Historically, there was a culture where the men and boys of the family ate first, while the women and girls ate later — in many families it was the women and girls who were making the hot chapatis that were served to the men. Many years later, talking to friends about gender bias, I heard references to the burnt chapatis that were given to them — the rejects.

If you want to cook the chapatis in advance, so you can sit and break bread with your family and friends, you need to cook them on low–medium heat so they remain soft. Wrap them in a cloth immediately. If you cook the chapatis until they develop dark brown spots, they will harden if you keep them. To honor the memories of all those generations of women and girls who never broke bread at the table with their families, please do make these and share with your loved ones.

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  • 2 cups (225 g) sifted chapati flour (atta/chakki atta) or whole-wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) cold water



Put the flour and salt in a bowl and gradually add the water, kneading as you go, to make a soft but pliable dough. This may take 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead using strong downward pressure for about 5 minutes. Cover the dough and set aside for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into six equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Flatten to a disc and roll out on a lightly floured surface until each piece is 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter.

Heat a tawa or frying pan over medium-high heat and cook one chapati at a time, pressing down on the edges with scrunched-up paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth. The bread should puff up and be flecked with brown, which is the sign it is ready to eat.

Extracted from Ammu by Asma Khan (Interlink Books, $35 USD). Photography by Laura Edwards.


Cook With Chef Asma Khan

spinner image Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking to Nourish Your Soul by Chef Asma Khan book cover
Interlink Books

Two more recipes from Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking to Nourish Your Soul:

Buttermilk Chicken Pakoras

This is a halfway house between a chicken nugget and a spicy pakora that is sold in dhabas, or roadside eateries, along the Indian highway.

Sikandari Raan — Spiced Leg of Lamb

An inauspicious dish that takes time to cook, but it is worth the wait — and comes with a fascinating backstory. 

Read our interview with Chef Asma Khan.


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