In many families in which parents educate their children at home, cooking is interwoven seamlessly into the school day. Math, reading, science and critical thinking skills are cultivated and honed through measuring, reading recipes, baking and substituting ingredients. Children becomes great home cooks at an early age and learn to clean up after themselves and appreciate their parents who loving provide them with food on the table and a roof over their heads.
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
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It’s too bad this isn’t our home.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking those who have this life. It just isn’t how things go around here on the regular. Mostly, the kitchen is a drop zone for dirty dishes. I spend a large portion of my day in there. The cooking part is enjoyable. The dirty dished part, no so much.
Oh, but I do look forward to the day when my kids can provide an edible meal for the entire family. We have a long way to go.
We have to begin somewhere, so when I came across this adorable chapati rolling pin while shopping at World Market, I was inspired to get Baby Honeybee in the kitchen and develop a Cooking with Kids series here at the hive.
The older kids may see right through my efforts to teach them to feed themselves, but Baby Honeybee is still young enough to get excited about cooking with me. There’s hope for the future.
So, here’s the funny thing. We live in Texas and often make tortillas at home. I have tried many times to get Baby Honeybee to make them with me and she has shown zero interest. She claims to not like them.
Hmm, let’s evaluate.
Tortilla vs. Chapati
A tortilla is made of flour, water and shortening (or lard, if you’re a traditionalist). Chapati (Also spelled chapatti, just to be confusing) are made of flour, water and olive oil, or ghee. Both are cooked on a stove top cast iron griddle and both are flat breads.
So, they are totally different and that explains why the picky 5 year-old hates tortillas and loves chapatis (or chapattis).
Indian Chapati Flat Bread
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 c. warm water
2 Tbsp. olive oil or ghee
In a large bowl, combine the flours and the salt. Use a whisk to thoroughly mix.
Add 3/4 of a cup of water and, using your hand, mix the water into the flour in a circular motion. If the dough isn’t coming together into a ball, add the remaining water.
Your dough should now look like this:
Sprinkle a small amount of flour on your work surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes to fully activate the gluten.
Now it will look like this:
In a clean bowl, drizzle a small amount of oil and roll the dough around to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
Now for the fun part! remove the dough from the bowl and stretch it into a log shape. Cut it in half, then cut each half in two pieces. You now have four pieces. Cut each of the four pieces into thirds. This is math people. I’m all about the fractions!
Roll each cut piece of dough in a ball and toss back into the bowl and cover again. I like bowl covers with an elastic band. It makes it easier to keep the dough from drying out, but allowing easy access. Wrestling with plastic wrap is not one of my favorite things.
Place a cast iron comal, griddle or skillet on the stove top over medium to medium-low heat and lightly oil. Let it heat up while rolling the dough.
In a small bowl, add 2 Tbsp. of oil. In another bowl, a bit larger and flatter, add some flour.
Take a ball of dough and flatten with your palms. Dip into the bowl with the flour and shake off excess. Place onto the countertop and roll into a circle. In our case, with a five year-old handling the rolling pin, it was more of a circleish. A trapezoid even. Watch out folks! We’re moving along to geometry!
When you have your circle, take a small spoon with a little oil and place it in the center. Use the back of the spoon to spread the oil almost to the edges. Fold the circle in half, and then fold again. Now you should have a dough triangle.
Roll out the dough to flatten. We tried for another circleish shape, but ended up with bread that looked like Africa and perhaps Australia. Geography lesson time!
Place rolled dough on the hot griddle and cook for 20-30 seconds. It will begin to bubble. Watch this first one carefully so you can adjust your heat. If it browns too quickly, it will not puff up as much. We want fluffy flatbread.
Flip the bread to the other side and, using a spatula or the bottom of a glass (or, in my case, the lid of my little salt cellar) press lightly around the edges. (There is this handy chipati fluffer available to match the chipati pin if matching sets are your thing.) This forces the air into the middle of the bread, allowing it to puff.
Remove from heat after the second side is cooked and place on a towel-lined plate. Cover with the towel to keep warm while rolling and cooking the others.
Baby Honeybee chose to eat her chapati stuffed with cheese. When cut open, the chapati forms a flat, pita-like pocket. If these had been gluten-free, I would have drizzled them with honey and eaten them sopapilla style. A little sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar would be delicious, too! Or, they can be filled with whatever bean, meat, cheese, rice, veggie combo you like and eaten like a soft taco.
The world is your oyster! Or, chipati! Fill it with goodness!
That sentiment needs to be on a T-shirt or something. A bumper sticker at the very least.
Chipati on, folks!
This post is linked up with Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth Art of Home Making Mondays. Hop on over to see other great posts!