The final of this week's tryptich of recipes from Sunday's dinner is another from Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine, the Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking.
Poori Chapati is a stovetop wheat bread that uses no oil during cooking and which puffs up beautifully. You may want the party guests in the kitchen when you make this because the inflation of the bread is fun.
I didn't really deviate from Yamuna Devi's recipe at all so I take no credit for this recipe, though I can cut it down and make it a little less wordy. The bread is a perfect accompaniment to Indian cuisine and the whole wheat even makes it vaguely healthy.
The scorch marks are normal and even desirable. That's a good thing because they're also pretty much unavoidable...
By the way, you do know where your kitchen fire extinguisher is and have a clear path to the sink from the oven, right? You should. It's possible you could make a grave mistake and set your bread or oven mitt on fire while you make this recipe and you should have a plan to cover that eventuality.
Here's my slightly rewritten instructions on making
poori chapati the Yamuna Devi way. Poori Chapati Flatbreads recipe adapted from Yamuna Devi
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour - sifted measue
3/4 cup unbleached white AP flour - sifted measure
1 tablespoon melted ghee or butter - ghee is preferred
1/2 tablespoon salt
2/3 cup warm water
pie tin or plate filled with wheat flour for dusting
melted ghee or butter for brushing flatbreads
You'll also need a medium mixing bowl and a non-painted and non-coated metal cooling rack. One about 10" x 10" would be ideal. It must be heat resistant because it'll be taking all the heat your stovetop is capable of putting out.
Sift flours and salt together.
Work ghee into dough with your fingers. Add water a bit at a time, working it in until you have a workable dough ball. Dust the work surface with wheat flour and knead the dough for about 8 minutes until you have a silky smooth pliable mass. Shape it into a ball, and place the mixing bowl over it to cover for 30 minutes.
Divide the rested dough into 12 equally sized masses and roll those into balls (the original calls for 14, but you show me how to eyeball 14 balls of dough and I'll know a new trick).
Put the balls of dough on a plate, not touching each other, and cover with a clean damp kitchen towel.
Set a skillet or griddle over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes. It would be ideal if this pan was nonstick becasue we will not be adding ghee to the bread during cooking. In fact, it may be dangerous to have oil in this pan - take this warning seriously.
Take a ball of dough. Roll it out into a disk. Dip the disk in the pie plate of flour on both sides and shake the excess off. Continue to roll the disk out and dip in flour as necessary until the disk is extremely thin and about 6"-7" in diameter. (You did knead the dough for a full eight minutes earlier so it became elastic, right?)
Set the flattened dough into the dry skillet and let it go for one full minute. Flip the dough and let it cook for another thirty seconds. You've just firmed up the sides so the bread can take the next step - the magic step.
Put on a flameproof fire retardant oven mitt and hold the cooling rack with it. Transfer the bread from the skillet to the cooling rack. Hold the cooling rack about 2" above a full flame over a gas burner or over an electric burner on high.
After a few seconds...
...the bread inflates from the steam being created inside the dough by the direct high heat acting on the water in the loaf. The time in the skillet firmed up the sides and made them less likely to leak water vapor or steam, so the only thing the heated air and steam can do is press on the sides until it inflates the loaf. I burned hole in one side that when flipped acted like a pressure release valve for the bread. Steam poured out of the hole like an old locomotive stack.
Keep the bread over the direct flame until some char marks begin to form (about 15-45 seconds), then flip and hold over the flame until the other side is nicely scorched. Don't overdo it.
Set on a plate and brush one side with melted ghee. Repeat process with the other 11 balls of dough.
Although a bit of bread may catch fire while you're inflating it, it shouldn't be a big deal to blow out any small bread conflagrations. Keep an open path to the sink just in case.
You can see why we can't really use oil in the skillet since that would encourage ignition of the bread. I also turn off the inflating flame between disks so I don't have a random open uncovered flame going inches from me while I work at the stove.
Perfect with Palak Paneer and rice.
Note: After some comments in the notes, I think I may be confused on chapati vs. poori. I don't have Yamuna Devi's book with me so I can't check to see that she labels this dish as poori and that I didn't just screw up. For now, I'm changing the name to chapati and will confirm my mistake or non-mistake this evening when I get home.
The verdict is in - I'm a moron. Poori is the recipe right after chapati in Devi's book and the functional instructions were on the opposite page so I must have let "poori" soak into my brain. Mea culpa. Of course, I probablyhave to make poori now...