Food Science Of Cooking Chapati & Role of Gluten: Crack the Crunch to Entice Diners

    The action behind physiochemical changes in the puffing of glutinous chapati and the science behind cooking with a deep dive into its food technology aspect.

    Are you a fan of Indian cuisine? Then you’ve probably savoured the delightful Indian puffed chapati, also known as “phulka” or “roti”. But do you know the fascinating science that goes into creating this fluffy mouthwatering bread? Let’s dive into the secrets behind it!

    In pre-historic times, the traditional stone mill is used to ground the flour. The stone grain mill consists of two granite Stones in a circular shape attached against one another. The top granite stone is movable and the bottom is immovable which acts as the bedstone for the movable stone. The stone at the top is rotated with a heavy force repeatedly from the centre. On the stone’s surface, grooves are embedded in it. We grew up in India seeing our grandparents grinding flour for atta (dough) making through the stone mill.

    With the improved technology of milling flour, it became possible to obtain the improved quality of hard-milled wheat flour containing a high level of protein and fibre content is desirable.

    Here’s a fun fact, you just need 3 ingredients to make dough for chapati making that is Wheat flour, salt, and water. Now the main part of kneading comes by accumulating all the ingredients together. There are two types of kneading; one is meant to eliminate air pockets in the dough to make it hard and resilient. The other type is meant to incorporate air through the gradual addition of water. Shout out and huge respect to the Indian Housewives who make this a modest process every day.

    The longer you knead your dough, the softer and more gut-friendly your roti becomes. Unlike the traditional yeast or baking powder leavening, Chapati uses the power of steam and trapped air to achieve its puffiness. The longer you knead the dough the lighter your roti becomes and it even balloons up on your tawa/skillet. Don’t shy away from adding water to your dough but make sure to knead it well.

    The dough should ideally spring back in shape when you press it with a finger. The dough’s gluten structure plays a pivotal role in this process, providing elasticity and strength. The gluten proteins form a network, making the dough elastic and easy to handle. The texture also becomes lighter as you incorporate more and more air through kneading.

    The dough is allowed to rest, allowing the gluten to relax and moisture to distribute evenly. The rested dough is divided into onto smaller portions a rolled into thin, circular discs ensuring even cooking and uniform puffing.When heat is applied, the moisture in the dough turns into steam, causing the chapati to puff up. The ideal test is when you put the rolled-out dough on a hot skillet, it will start rising. Try it once or twice to find the right balance.

    You can add all kinds of spices to your dough and make the roti more delicious. My all-time favourite is a chunky paste of ginger, chillies, and cumin. If you don’t have an open flame to brown your roti, use a kitchen cloth to gently press down the roti on the skillet. This gives it a lovely crust. And finally, no Chapati is ever complete till you smother the crackling side with a little bit of ghee or butter.

    And for the final touch, if your roti has a crust and once you have spread ghee on it, take a kitchen cloth and put your hot roti on it and then gently smash it in your hands to break the crust into thin fragile lines. And voila, that’s how you make an Indian roti.

    Finally, the puffed chapati is ready to be served hot and fresh. In the end, you can serve it with a curry you made. It pairs perfectly with different curries and delectable Indian dishes! Its lightness, texture, and earthy aroma is a true blessings and celebration that we are witnessing in India’s rich culinary heritage.

    Next time you savour an Indian puffed chapati, remember the beautiful science behind it. Let’s appreciate the centuries-old technique with modern food science that continues to bring joy to our taste buds.

    Share your favourite chapati memories or unique chapati experiences in the comments below! Let’s celebrate the culinary wonders of India together.We appreciate you reading our blog, If you want to read more about technology, please feel free to check out our other articles here.

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