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Soft whole wheat skillet breads (chapatti)

ingredients

makes 8
2 cups atta flour (or 2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted) or more as needed (see note)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water, or more as needed

method

Note: Atta flour, available at South Asian grocery stores and some health- food stores, is a very finely ground wheat flour, cream or pale yellow in color. To approximate atta flour, use whole wheat flour and sift out the coarsest particles of bran. Atta is ideal for chapatti and unyeasted flatbreads in general.

1. You will need a medium-sized bowl, a rolling pin, and a tava or a 9- to 10- inch cast-iron griddle or heavy skillet.

2. In a medium size bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the warm water. Mix with your hand or with a spoon until you can gather it together into a dough (depending on your flour, you may need a little extra water or a little extra flour to make a kneadable dough). Turn out onto a lightly floured bread board and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

3. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and flatten each with lightly floured fingers. Then roll each piece out with a rolling pin to an 8-inch round. Roll out each bread without flipping it over; lightly flour the bread board as necessary to keep the bread from sticking. Cover the finished breads with plastic wrap as you roll out the rest (do not stack the rolled-out breads; if you don't have enough counter space, roll out just a few at a time and begin cooking, then roll out the rest as the breads cook).

4. Heat a tava or a cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot, place a chapatti on it, top side down. Cook for only 10 seconds, and then gently flip over. Cook on the second side until small bubbles begin to form, approximately 1 minute. Turn the chapatti back to the first side and cook about 1 minute longer; at this stage, a perfectly made chapatti should start to balloon. This process can be helped along by gently pressing on the bread (we find the easiest method is to use a small cotton cloth or a paper towel, wadded up, to protect your fingertips from the hot bread): Gently press down on a large bubble in the bread, forcing the bubble to expand. If the bread starts to burn on the bottom before it has ballooned, move the chapatti (with the cloth or paper towel) on the griddle, dislodging it from the point at which it is beginning to burn.

5. Remove the finished chapatti from the griddle and wrap in a clean towel to keep warm and soft. Cook the remaining breads, stacking the breads on top of one another.

5. Makes 8 thin round breads, 7 to 8 inches across.

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