Flatbread for Bread History Seminar #34

A Basic Chapati/Pita Style Flatbread.


The geography of bread is divided between the peoples of the loaf bread, and peoples of the flatbread. This last seminar of the Spring 2022 session is the second seminar devoted to flatbreads. The talk is being given by Mohad Ahmar Alvi. The subject concerns purity in Hindu bread culture.

As there is a lot of interest in how to make flatbreads amongst the group, I am starting this session with a hands-on baking session. Demonstrations will be conducted in kitchens in India, and also in my kitchen in Santa Cruz, California.

I wrote about flatbreads for the American magazine, “Grit.” Here is a link to that article. If you are totally unfamiliar with flatbreads then please read my article.

The workshop today is not specifically about Indian flatbreads. One day we will have a session conducted from India on the diversity of Indian flatbreads. That day is not today! The flatbread technique you will learn an Indian kitchens in this seminar will apply to Middle Eastern breads, like pita or saj. As always, YouTube offers a wealth of fabulous examples on how to make flatbreads.

Keeping it simple, we will be primarily focus chapati and pita style breads. I make flatbreads at least once a week. If flatbreads are not part of your repertoire, then this should be a valuable workshop. for you.

There are two key differences between contemporary chapati and pita. Chapatis are always unleavened. They are traditionally made with a fine whole wheat flour, atta. For those of you who mill your own, then a partially refined white flour such as the the 80% extraction flour that was the Early Modern household flour is appropriate. Pita and saj are usually made with white flour. Pita is leavened. Saj and chapati are not.

For the workshop, if you are not familiar with making flatbreads, then I’d probably make a yeasted dough. You can use my recipe in the linked Grit article.

What to prepare for the workshop portion of the talk.

In addition to some dough, you should have a griddle set up on your stove and a space to roll out dough. Thus, please have some dough, a work surface, some extra flour for the work surface, and a rolling pin.

Basic white dough.

Make this basic white dough one to two hours before the talk. If you want to make the unleavened chapati, then I suggest using a fine whole wheat or if you mill your own, then an 80% extraction. Just use flour and water for chapati.

100% flour

60% – 65% warm to hot water

1% – 1.5% yeast

1.5% to 2% salt, always optional, and always as per personal taste

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