Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chapati - March 26, 2014

A friend of mine asked me recently what a common meal was here.

Every day for lunch I spend 90/- and I get beans, cabbage, and two chapati.  When I order I say "Naomba maragwe,cabbage*, na chapo mbili."  Today's special topic is CHAPATI.

Chapatis are hand-made tortillas that come out tasting a lot better.  You can eat a chapati by itself if you need to, as long as it is warm.  Otherwise it just tastes like a lame tortilla that is a little crispy.

Normal chapati toppings include meat (nyama; usually goat meat, but at nicer restaurants you can get pork or cow meat), eggs (mayai), beans (maragwe), cabbage, skuma wiki, and intestines (matumbo; again, usually goat).

Chapatis usually go for 10/- unless you are in town, then it is 20/-.

CHAPATI (the rough recipe)


Boil the water.  Mix a little water with the flour and stir, enough to where it starts clumping up.  Boil the oil.  You will know that it is hot enough when it becomes quiet.  Mix a little oil with the dough, and keep adding and mixing until it stops sticking to your hands and the side of the bowl.

Make nice dough balls about the size of your fist.  Flatten them out into circles.  Make sure they are fairly thin.  The thicker they are, the longer it takes to cook and the outsides cook pretty fast.
*NOTE: Do not let the dough sit at any stage of this.  Letting the dough sit makes it very difficult to make the chapati.  The only sitting the dough should do is when it is waiting in line to be next on the skillet.

Put some oil in a cup and grab a tablespoon.  Put the skillet on low-med heat.  Put a bit of oil in the bottom of the skillet, enough to cover the pan.  Slap a chapati down.  If you are a real pro you can flip and spin these things using only your hands.  Make sure you keep spinning the chapati as you cook.  Don't let it sit for longer than 20s.  After you slap one side down, take a spoonful of oil and spread it on the raw side.  When the chapati starts to bubble, flip it.  The first side should have a few tan spots, like it is the beginning of the summer and it was the first day at the beach.  Cook the second side until it is the same way.  After they are even, put it off to the side.

After four or five chapatis that have been stacked off to the side, here comes the hard part.  Put oil on the pan.  Put the stack on the pan.  It is cooking the lowest side of the lowest chapati.  Put a spoonful of oil on the top side of the top chapati.  Wait a bit, then flip the chapati stack.  The side that was cooking should now be completely finished. Flip that one chapati.  Oil the side that is not done.  Flip the stack.  Flip the chapati.  Oil the side that is not done.  Flip the stack.  Flip the chapati.  All sides are done on this chapati!  Okay, great!  Take it off.  It is ready to go.  Continue with the next chapati.  

You will know a chapati is done when it starts becoming brown in some spots. 

And that is how you make chapati!  They are a great side dish for any occasion.  And if you are still wondering how to pronounce it...

*Note: I don't know how to say "cabbage" in Swahili.  But neither do Kenyans.

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