The vegetable onslaught continues and I’ve begun experimenting with flatbreads. I made a dinner a few weeks ago I really wish I’d taken the time to photograph so I could blog it. I didn’t, so you’ll have to settle for peeking in on my second crack at flat breads. The first turned out phenomenally well, so the bar was pretty high for this second attempt.
We had an eggplant and a couple squash from the CSA, so I decided to play with this recipe. And to go with it, this recipe for chapatis. The lack of yeast in the chapati recipe was particularly appealing since that cuts a lot of time out of the preparation, and while I had time to futz with dinner, I’m still catching up from things I let slide while I was in Richmond and have about ten other things going on I’d like to keep on top of as well, so quick was appealing.
The dough is extremely simple. Mix water and flour. That’s it. Awesome. My favorite part of the flat bread experimentation so far, though, is that they tend to call for wheat flour. I bought a 25lb bag at Costco a while back on a whim, because I thought it would lend itself to making more interesting bread. It resoundingly had the opposite effect. All the un-fun things you associate from eating lame wheat bread growing up, none of the toothsome texture or depth I expect from wheat bread. It’s working great for the flat breads, though. Impulse purchase of bulk ingredient validated!
The part where you toast the spices is probably my favorite part of cooking. It smells so good it’s like getting a reward just as you start. Good job, you can heat oil and pour powder into it, have aroma of awesome!
I tossed in the last two of the CSA tomatoes, which upped my vegetable count. We’re out of CSA onion, so we’ve had to switch back to the bag of grocery store onions I got just before the CSA started delivering. I may someday go back to the grocery store for produce. Weird.
This is what he bowl of roasted eggplant and squash looked like when I finished peeling them. The eggplant was actually pretty easy to do once I stopped burning my fingers on it. The squash was much more complicated, probably because it took a detour from oven to counter and visited “smashed on floor because Anaea’s a clumsy oaf,” land, which had rather unfortunate consequences for its structural integrity.
Mmm, curried mush. And that’s basically what it is. I wound up adding a bit of cinnamon and chicken stock to it, just because upon tasting I decided it needed something to round out the flavors a bit – the eggplant and squash weren’t quite working together as team players.
The chapatis turned out to be not at all faster than a yeasted flatbread. In fact, they took up about four times as much of my time as the pita bread I made last time. The pita bread needed more time for rising and whatnot, but much less time from me futzing with the dough. These chapatis are all about no ingredients but lots of time consuming technique.
Remember, the dough is just flour and water. Part of the rolling out process is folding in oil, while folding up the dough. This is where the flavor comes from, and the air trapped between the layers of dough is what’ll eventually give it its lift.
And that’s what the chapati looks like when you roll it out and don’t much care whether you get it perfectly round. I did that twelve times. Half way through I switched to doing it assembly-line style, though, which sped things up considerably.
They got a really pleasant char on them while in the skillet. It looked very much like what I expect a chapati to look like, which is always a good sign.
This is also where my biggest complaint about the chapati recipe comes in. Cooking each piece individually in the skillet is slow. My kitchen is very straight and clean now, but that’s not what I had among my goals for the evening. The char is pretty, but I don’t really feel like it was worth the time commitment. But that could be the part where I wound up serving dinner an hour and a half later than I’d wanted to talking.And that was dinner.
The chapati recipe is an excellent recipe for chapatis. I miss the yeast and higher oil content in these compared to the pita, though, which just means I like pita bread better than chapatis, which I already knew. The curry was tasty but not mind blowing – then again, I expect it’ll be better tomorrow.