A mix of whole-wheat flour, spelt flour, gram flour and flax seeds, each providing their nutritional and health benefits. The combination makes for wholesome, delicious and soft chapatis, that compliment your curries, sabzis and daals perfectly.
What combination of flour is used and why?
To make my multi-grain chapatis, I mix the following flours:
Whole-wheat flour (Weizenvollkornmehl): Whole wheat flour is made from wheat that has all components of the grain — the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. This allows the flour to retain many vitamins, minerals, and fiber that refined flour lack. Opt for organic (bio), unbleached flour for getting the most health benefits out of it. In Germany, whole wheat flour is available in most grocery stores by the name Weizenmehl-Vollkorn or Weizenvollkornmehl.
Spelt Flour (Dinkelvollkornmehl): Spelt is an ancient grain, which comes from the same family as wheat, barley and rye. Whole-grain spelt is an excellent source of fiber. Fiber helps to slow your digestion, which helps to reduce blood sugar spike after eating. Spelt flour is also rich in iron, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, niacin, selenium, vitamin B6, thiamin, and folic acid. You can find spelt flour in Germany in most grocery stores by the name Dinkelmehl. Buy organic whole-grain spelt (Bio Dinkelvollkornmehl) for best results.
Gram/Chickpea Flour (Besan): Gram/Chickpea flour contains healthy unsaturated fats which help in lowering the cholesterol level of the body. Owing to its low glycemic index, it is a great food for diabetics. Gram flour is also a good source of the vitamin Thiamin which helps the body in converting food into energy and keeps you full longer. In Germany, Gram/Chickpea flour is available by the name ‘Besan’ at Indian grocery stores or by the name ‘Kichererbsenmehl’ at dm,rossmann or at health stores.
Flax seeds (Leinsamen): Just one tablespoon of flax seeds provide a good amount of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition many vitamins and minerals. Flax seeds are also a rich source of lignans. Lignans are plant compounds that have antioxidant properties, which can help lower the risk of cancer and improve health. In Germany Flax seeds are available by the name Leinsamen at well stocked grocery stores. Buy crushed flax seeds as they are easier to mix into the dough and also easier to break down by the body.
Important points to keep in mind
To get soft chapatis there are a few key points to remember.
- Knead a soft dough. If the dough is hard, you will get hard chapatis. Kneading the dough with lukewarm water keeps it soft and elastic.
- Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes until its soft and no lumps are left. If the dough is uneven, you will not get well rounded chapatis.
- Always add salt to your dough as it makes the meal more flavorful.
- Prep all your dough balls in advance, to save time while cooking the chapatis.
- Prepare chapati either just before consumption or freeze them (in a ziplock bag) if you are not planning on consuming them within a few hours. Freezing locks in the freshness of chapatis and keep them moist and soft. Reheat with some splashes of water on a well heated pan.
- Don’t be disappointed if your chapatis do not turn out perfectly the first few times. Making a chapati is a skill that needs some practice and patience.
What to serve your chapatis with?
Chapatis are a perfect side for curries and sabzis (vegetables cooked in Indian style). They also make a good pairing with daals (lentils). Here are a few recipes that would pair very well with chapatis:
- Akhni (Regional Indian wedding speciality): An onion based curry
- Palak Paneer : Indian cottage cheese with spinach sauce
- No Butter-Butter Chicken: One of India’s most famous dish, made healthier
- Matar Tofu: Vegan version of the famous matar paneer curry
- 2 Thick cotton cloths or kitchen towels
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (weizenvollkornmehl)
- ½ cup whole-grain spelt flour (Dinkelvollkornmehl)
- ½ cup gram/chickpea flour (kichererbsenmehl)
- 1 Tbsp flax seeds (crushed) (Leinsamen-geschrotet)
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- Add all the flour, flax seeds and salt to a big bowl.
- Mix roughly with your hand and make a well in the middle.
- Add a little water in the middle and wet your dough.
- Gradually add the water little by little and bind the dough into a round ball.
- Knead the dough with your fist for 3-4 minutes until it is smooth and no lumps are left. If it sticks too much on hands, apply some water.
- Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.
- Apply some dry flour onto your hands and take a small portion of the dough. Form into similar sized, smooth and round balls.
- Take some dry flour in a flat plate, place a ball onto the dry flour and coat it all around. Repeat with all the balls.
- Flatten all the balls by pressing with your hand.
- Put a pan on high heat and let it heat up. (It's better not to use a non-stick pan or it can get damaged with the high heat)
- Now, take one piece and place it onto a clean board or a clean working surface. Roll it into a thin circle using a roller. Do not put too much pressure on the roller or your chapati will stick. Roll up in a straight line and roll down at a 45° angle. If it sticks on the roller or board, apply some dry flour.
- Transfer your rolled chapati carefully onto your palm to the heated pan. (The pan should be nicely heated at this point).
- Wait for your chapati to develop a few tiny bubbles. This will take about a minute or two.
- Flip and let tiny bubbles appear on the other side as well.
- Now, take a folded thick cotton cloth/ kitchen towel and start pressing and rotating the chapati from the sides. Keep pressing and rotating for a few seconds until some larger bubbles start to form.
- Flip and repeat pressing and rotating with the cloth on this side as well.
- Keep pressing and rotating until the bubbles get bigger and the chapati develops dark brown patches all over.
- Keep the done chapatis between a thick folded cotton cloth to retain their softness and warmth.
- Repeat the rolling and cooking process for all the chapatis.