Chapati or Chapathi (Hindi: चपाती, Tamil: சப்பாதி, Kannada: ಚಪಾತಿ, Malayalam: ചപ്പാത്തി, Urdu: چپاتی, Marathi: पोळी, Punjabi: ਛਪਤਿ IPA: [tʃəpɑt̪i]; Turkmen: Çapady) is an unleavened flatbread ( also known as roti) from the Indian subcontinent. Versions of it are found in Turkmenistan, in East African countries including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and in West Africa in, among other countries, Ghana.
Chapatis are made from a firm but pliable dough made from flour (whole grain durum wheat), 'aataa' in Urdu/Hindi/Punjabi and water. Some people also add salt and/or oil to the dough. Small portions of the dough are rolled out into discs much like a Mexican tortilla, using rolling pin. The rolled out dough is thrown on the preheated dry skillet and cooked on both sides. In some regions it is only part cooked on the skillet and then put directly on a high flame which makes it blow up like a balloon, the hot air cooks the chapati rapidly from the inside. In some parts of northern India and pakistan this is called a "phulka"or that which has been inflated.
Often, the top of a chapati is slathered with ghee (clarified butter) or butter. A piece of chapati is torn off and used to pick up the meat or vegetable dish(es) that make the meal. it is folded into a sort of loose cone and used as a scoop to eat the more liquid dishes at a meal like dal.
Chapati sizes (diameter and thickness) vary from region to region and kitchen to kitchen. In Gujarat, for example, the chapati is called a 'rotli' and can be as thin as tissue paper. Chapatis made in domestic kitchens are usually not larger than 15-18 cm in diameter since the 'tava' from which they are made comes in sizes that fit comfortably on a domestic stove top. Tavas were traditionally made of unglazed earthenware, but are now typically made from metal. There are also electric tavas manufactured in India. The shape of the rolling pin also varies from region to region. Some household simply use a kitchen work top as a sort of pastry board, but homes have round flat-topped 'boards' specifically for rolling out chapatis that may be made of wood or stone.
Flat unleavened breads in South Asia come in many forms, the chapati is only one of them. A roti, made of a dough not dissimilar to that used to make chapatis and cooked in an oven, is a 'tandoori roti'. The combination of wheat flour with one or more flours (eg. chickpea, maise, or millet) will produce a "missi roti". Rotis made with pearl millet (bajra) or maize (makka) or (jowar) flour usually carry the name of the flour, as in "bajra roti" or "makke ki roti". Flat breads like chapati and roti are traditionally a food of northern South Asia. The peninsular south, the east and northeast and the Kashmir valley are primarily rice-eating cultures. In southern India, there is often no distinction made between a 'chapati' and its layered fried version the 'paratha', although now the 'tandoori roti' is to be found in the smallest towns.