February 5, 2013


VJ can never tell the difference between a chapathi/phulka/paratha. Simply put, any north Indian flatbread is chapathi for him. I am sure that this would be the case with most of us, the south Indians! 

But in reality, there are lot of variations and I am so intrigued to know and try each one of them! Chapathi, Naan, Bhatura, Poori, Paratha, Kulcha - lot of varieties with trivial variations is truly an exploration galore! Just to give you an idea about how subtle the variations are,

Chapathi - Unleavened bread made of wheat flour cooked in a skillet with oil/ghee.
Phulka - Unleavened bread made of wheat flour cooked in skillet & open flame without oil/ghee.
Poori - Unleavened bread made of wheat flour deep fried in oil.
Paratha - Unleavened bread made of wheat flour that is folded multiple times when rolling the dough and cooked in a skillet.
Lacha paratha - Layered paratha made of wheat flour cooked in a skillet.
Stuffed paratha - Paratha stuffed with filling made with potatoes/cauliflower/paneer etc.
Kulcha - Leavened bread made of maida flour cooked in an oven.
Naan - Leavened bread made of wheat flour cooked in an oven.
Batura - Leavened bread made of wheat flour deep fried in oil.

Any unleavened bread is referred to as 'roti' in general. Now that there are these many varieties, how many have you tried?

Speciality of phulka is that these are thin roti's that are toasted one side on a skillet and the other side is cooked directly on open flame and puffed up. Shuffling between skillet & open flame could be a little overwhelming if you are trying it for the first time, but you can master this art in no time with a little practice!

Now, thinking about it, my mom actually makes great phulkas but my family have always referred to them as chapathi!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 45 mins - 1 hr (includes resting time)
Cook time - 30 - 45 mins
Serves - 15 nos

Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Water - 1.25 cups or less
Ghee - to smear on top of the phulkas (optional)
Whole wheat flour - as required (for dusting)

In a big mixing bowl, add & mix whole wheat flour & salt. Now, add 1 cup of water to wet and bind the entire flour. (Save the remaining 1/4 cup of water)

Start kneading the dough and sprinkle water little by little (from 1/4 cup) as needed. Keep kneading and you 'll see the flour starting to come together as a soft dough and the dough should be neither dry nor sticky. Once you have reached this stage, stop adding water. Transfer the dough to the kitchen counter and continue to knead for 10-15 mins until the dough becomes soft and pliable.

At this stage, transfer the dough back into the bowl, cover it with a lid / a kitchen cloth and let it sit for atleast 30 mins.

After 30 mins, make about 15 equal sized balls out of the dough. Keep them covered inside the bowl as the dough tends to get dry when exposed to air.

Now, take a ball and gently flatten it between your palms. Dust it in the dry flour and start rolling it out using a rolling pin. Be gentle when you work with the dough. As you roll, you should feel like you are working with an elastic. The dough should be rolled out from centre to the sides with uniform thickness. Make sure that you roll out as thin as possible (without tearing), else you will end up making thick chapathi's instead of soft & thin phulkas. Also remember to not dust the dough too much as it tends to make the phulkas dry. Repeat the same for the rest of the balls. You can work in batches with the rest of the balls. I usually work in 2 batches. 

Heat a griddle on medium-high. When it is hot enough, place the rolled out dough on the tawa. In 30 secs, flip it over to the other side and let it cook until it starts to bubble up. 

Now, flip & transfer the dough onto the wire mesh and wait until the entire phulka puffs up. 

Remove from the flame and smear it with little ghee on top. Keep them covered or store them in hot casserole for phulkas to stay soft & moist.

Enjoy these soft phulkas with any spicy side of your choice.

We use the brand "Golden Temple Durum Atta" from Costco and it works so well for us.

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