Making chapatis that puff with the grill
I made chapatis for the first time last week, and have made them 3 more times since, to improve my technique. I am able to make about half of the chapatis puff in one big ball on the pan (I don't have a thava). I'd like to make them all puff, with the help of a hand grill, if needed.
When I was in India I picked up a grill similar to the one in the photo attached - my Indian friends love it. So, when a chapati doesn't puff well in the pan, I've been trying to place it on the grill to get that perfect puffed ball. However, every time I place a chapati on the grill, it burns a bit and makes holes, and it loses any puffiness it had before.
I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I'm keeping the flame at medium-high (I have a gas stove), and I'm holding the grill at about 2 inches distance from the top of the stove. I've tried to preheat the grill (in this case the chapati ends up burning in lines, from the hot metal) and to use it without preheating. Either way, if I hold the grill any higher than 2 inches, nothing happens; if I move it down to 2 inches, the chapati burns.
I've watched several videos on youtube where people use the grill to make chapatis puff, but it seems like everyone has an electric stove. Is this possible to do this with a gas stove? I'd love to get some tips. I'm not giving up :)
I basically do the same as joanne does. I have a gas cooker with a flame so an electric cooker may be a bit of a problem here. I never let the chapati cook to the "brown spots" stage on the tawa as it never seems to puff if I do that. I just cook it briefly on either side until the dough changes colour (without browning). Then I hold the bread directly over the flame. The bread puffs fully and gets brown spots. You can use tongs or even a bent coat hanger to do this stage.
Other factors that may affect puffing is the moisture content of the dough, the amount it was kneaded, rested, etc.
This is great advice! I always cook the chapati to the point where it gets brown spots, on the thawa, so I will definitely do what you suggest next time.
In terms of kneading and resting, I knead a bit by hand, on the counter, then let it rest for one hour in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap.
I puff the chapatis with my gas stove. I don't use a grill; I cook the chapati in a cast-iron skillet, then rest the chapati on the prongs, as if placing a small pot on the stove, then turn on the flame - usually a medium-ish flame.
You may need to experiment with the size of the flame to get the heat needed for puffing without burning.
Something else to think about - is the chapati completely cooked when you put it over the flame? If it's cooked all the way through, that might affect the puffing as well.
I learned my method from Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking"; she calls the puffed chapatis "phulka", and explains that the breads are rolled thicker than chapati, and the griddle-baking process is usually not sufficient to cook them thoroughly. Holding them over a flame for a few seconds finishes the cooking. Her recipe asks that the bread be held over a high flame for only 5-10 seconds per side.
The book has been an excellent resource for me, and is well-worn, opening automatically to my favourite recipes. I'd recommend it highly.
Don't give up, have fun, and best of luck!!!
I got the "Classic Indian Cooking" book on your recommendation and I am so glad I did! This book is exactly what I had been looking for and not finding: authentic but adapted to western kitchens when needed, very detailed, and the recipes all turn out amazing. (I bought 3 other books before this one, and I'm not very happy with the other ones.)
I've made the homemade paneer, then I used it to make matar paneer. I also made the aloo paratha and a cabbage stir-fry. Everything turned out fantastic.
I am wondering if you have any favorite recipes from this book. Would love to get a recommendation for the next dish to cook from it.