East African Style Flaky Chapati

Chapatis are a popular East African flatbread with Indian roots. They are a perfect accompaniment to any vegetable, meat, chicken or fish curry. Best served warm and on the day made but they can be made ahead and reheated or even eaten cold! They were introduced to the East African coast by Indian merchants.


500g white flour – sometimes I use a 50/50 mix with wholemeal flour

1 pinch salt

quite a bit of oil



  • Put the flour and the salt in a bowl and then add 2 to 3 tablespoons oil. Add enough water to this to mix into a good dough, one which is not too sticky. Just add the water bit by bit and keep on mixing and kneading in the bowl until you feel you have a nice lump of dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured board and continue kneading. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle a bit more flour onto the dough and continue to knead. Once you have a nice looking, smoothish lump of dough, put it back in the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave for at least 20 minutes and up to a few hours (I usually only manage 20 minutes, or sometimes don’t leave it at all and it has never seemed to harm my chapati!).
  • Tear pieces off the dough and make balls about 4 or 5cm in diameter. Flour your board again and roll the balls out into thin circles. The dough is quite elastic and will spring back – don’t worry, the end product is not supposed to be a very thin thing.
  • Now here is the secret tip – oil! Put a few teaspoons of oil in a frying pan and let it get hot. Then throw in your first chapati. Bubbles should start to appear in the dough which is good – you often end up with small black areas where these bubbles burn a little when you flip the chapati which is really authentic and tastes great!
  • Whilst the first side is cooking pour 1-2 more teaspoons of oil onto the uncooked side and brush over the surface of the chapati. Then have a little look underneath, and if it’s starting to go a little darker and maybe black in places, then flip it over. If you want to flip it again then just brush the upside with a bit more oil and flip – remember as it is not entirely thin-thin, then you want to give it a little time to allow the dough not in contact with the pan to cook.


  • When it is done, put it on a plate and cover with a towel. Put a teaspoon or two more oil in the pan and begin again with your second chapati until you have a big stack! When you come to eat the chapati, you will see it is a little greasy and if you tear it it will tear in layers – this is the perfect consistency for chapati! yum yum!



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