Indian chapati and whole wheat tortilla are both flatbreads made with whole-grain flour. And yet, both these come from different parts of the world. You can serve chapati with Indian food or use the Mexican tortillas as a wrap for sandwiches and burritos. This simple and easy recipe will get you hooked on chapati or tortillas instantly.
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You will agree with me that the one thing that brings our whole world together is food. In fact, pick a dish that is very traditional to you and you will find a few variations on it around the world. For example, we Indians make chapati and the Mexicans make tortillas. Perhaps they are similar but not the same. And yet quite the same concept. Right?
The Mexican flour tortilla is made with all-purpose flour, milk/water, oil, salt, and pepper. And the Indian chapatti is made with whole wheat flour, water, oil, salt. And guess what? The methods are similar. So, you can say that these are Mexican or Indian tortillas. It's mainly the difference in flour and what you serve it with.
You can make healthy tortillas by using less oil compared to traditional flour tortillas and you can make them more nutritious by using whole grain flour instead of white flour.
Why make homemade tortillas
- Tortillas can be healthy when made at home. That's because they contain a lot less fat or shortening compared to most commercially made tortillas
- As you can see the ingredient lists is really short and all these are simple pantry staples.
- Also, the process is very simple. It takes just 10 minutes to make the dough and another 10 minutes to cook the tortillas on the skillet with a few minutes of resting time which makes working with the dough easier.
- Unlike corn tortillas, these flour tortillas stay soft longer and can be kept in the freezer for a long time.
- Warm tortillas are perfect to use for sandwich wraps, burritos. We love to have them for breakfast with egg omeletes.
Ingredients and substitute
- Flour - I love to use a combination of whole wheat flour with all-purpose or bread flour.
- Oil - adds softness to the dough. You can add as little as 1 tablespoon to the flour but you can also brush additional flour on the cooked tortillas to keep them soft longer. Olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil - are great to use in this recipe. I even used avocado oil, which adds tons of flavor. The Indian chapati uses ghee, clarified butter, or vegetable shortening for additional flavor.
- Baking powder - helps lighten the tortillas and keep them soft.
- Water - it's not necessary to use hot water, just warm water will do. I personally recommend using warm water as it softens the gluten in the tortilla dough resulting in chapati or tortillas that are soft and supple.
Homemade whole wheat tortillas
- Dry ingredients - in the bowl of a food processor combine whole wheat flour and all-purpose or bread flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the oil through the feeder and pulse a few times until the oil coats every grain of flour.
- Knead - Next, add the warm water and pulse until you have a smooth dough. Leave to rest on the counter for 15 minutes. Then knead for 30 seconds more until soft but smooth.
- Divide - Divide the dough into 10 to 12 equal size portions. Shape each into balls and rest for 10 minutes.
Pro tip - I prefer to divide the dough in half, then half, again half... until I have an approximate size or number I need. Resting will help the gluten in the dough rest and easier to roll.
- Roll - Dab each ball with a little flour on both sides. Use a rolling pin, roll on a lightly floured surface to about 8 to 10-inch diameter. Place them on parchment paper to prevent sticking.
Pro tip - Resting will help the gluten in the dough rest and easier to roll. If necessary let rest again as needed.
- Cook - Heat a griddle, skillet, or frying pan on medium heat. Cook tortilla on each side for 2 minutes flipping once or twice in between.
Pro tip - Each tortilla usually takes 3 to 4 minutes, so adjust the heat accordingly.
- Keep warm - Place the cooked tortillas wrapped in a clean kitchen towel so they stay soft.
Cooking the perfect tortilla or chapati
One of the most common problems with laden bread, tortillas, chapati, pita, naan, etc. is that we flip the bread too fast not letting the dough cook. What happens then is that the dough dries out and you get tough, hard flatbreads when they cool. You want to retain the steam that builds inside the bread to keep these soft. Each tortilla takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Make sure the pan is hot.
- Place the tortilla on the pan.
- Once you see little bubbles like this - it usually should take no more than 30 seconds.
- The first flip - Turn it over - give it about 2 minutes to cook on the other side. You will see the tortilla is getting a little puffy.
- Second flip - Turn it back on the first side - This will take another minute or so.
Pro tip - Help the dough puff by gently pressing the sides that are not touching the pan. This will help cook those spots that are raised up.
- Third Flip - This is it. As long as you see no raw dough, a few specks of black freckles.
- Indian chapati will stay well for three days if wrapped well.
- You can save them for a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer.
Tips for success
A soft dough will make a soft chapati. And a stiff dough will make a stiff, chewy chapati. If your chapati edges are hard or have cracks on the edges - you have made a stiff dough.
- Resting the dough - Leave the kneaded dough in a warm place for about 15 minutes. And don't rush this part. Resting the dough will make it easier to work with it.
- Don't be a hero - Most Indian women are used to rolling and cooking Indian chapati simultaneously. We roll one chapati while keeping an eye on the one that is on the griddle pan. However, feel free to just roll them out first and then move on to cooking them. Otherwise, you might end up burning a few trying to multi-task.
And if you choose to roll them first, spread a clean kitchen cloth on the table and lay them spread out (not one over the other) or they will stick. Then, cover with another clean kitchen cloth to prevent drying out.
- Keeping them soft - You need to keep the chapatis soft by wrapping them in a clean kitchen cloth. I also use this (image above) insulated wooden storage. But clean kitchen cloth does the trick too. As soon as the Chapati is out of the skillet, wrap in a clean kitchen cloth. The retaining steam in the chapati is what creates moisture and keeps the chapati soft.
- Keeping it healthy - Adding the oil - Lightly brush some oil with a pastry brush rather than using a spoon. This will give you a light but better coverage unlike a puddle with a spoon.
- Veggie tortilla - replace some of the hot water in the recipe with tomato puree or spinach puree to make tomato tortilla or spinach wraps.
- Gluten-free tortilla - replace the flour in the recipe with gluten-free tortilla or almond flour.
- Garlic tortilla - add a sprinkle of garlic powder to the flour or brush some melted butter and roasted garlic mixture to the cooked tortillas.
- Spicy tortilla - Add some chili powder or chopped fresh chilies with a squeeze of lime to the flour.
More flatbread recipes
Frequently asked questions
These flour tortillas or Indian chapatis will stay well for three days at room temperature if wrapped well. And you can also save them for a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer.
The best way to make soft tortillas or soft tacos is that as soon as they are out of the skillet wrap it in a clean kitchen cloth. The retaining steam in them is what creates moisture and keeps them soft.
Ideally, any hot grilled, cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan works well for cooking tortillas or chapati.
Soft tacos and tortillas are perfect for burritos, quesadillas, and guacamole wraps.
You can make tortillas healthy by using less oil compared to
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- Dry ingredients - in the bowl of a food processor combine whole wheat flour and all-purpose or bread flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the oil through the feeder and pulse a few times until the oil coats every grain of flour. Pro tip - you can also knead the dough in a large bowl with your hand or use a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.
- Knead - Next, add the warm water and pulse until you have a smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest on the counter for 15 minutes. Then knead for 30 seconds more until soft but smooth. Pro tip - the water does not need to be hot just heated in the microwave for a few seconds on high.
- Divide - Divide the dough into 10 to 12 equal size portions. Shape each portion into a ball and rest for 10 minutes. Pro tip - I prefer to divide the dough in half, then half, again half... until I have an approximate size or number I need. Resting will help the gluten in the dough rest and easier to roll.
- Roll - Dab each ball with a little flour on both sides. Use a rolling pin, roll on a lightly floured surface to about 8 to 10-inch diameter. Place them on parchment paper to prevent sticking. Pro tip - Resting will help the gluten in the dough rest and easier to roll. If necessary let rest again as needed.
- Keep warm - Place the cooked tortillas wrapped in a clean kitchen towel or tortilla warmer so they stay soft.
The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you