I tend to agree with Vasundhara Chauhan. Who is Vasundhara Chauhan? Why would I agree with her? These are valid questions and deserve to be addressed. V.Chauhan penned this article in the Hindu where she deplores the flood of standard dal makhani, butter chicken, and naan wherever one looks for good indian food.
Imagine my surprise therefore when I stepped into an Indian restaurant, and they asked me whether I wanted Naan or Chappati to go with dal makhani and mutter panneer. I went in for the Chappati – the old jaws need a break sometimes and soft chappatis would fit the bill nicely. The chappatis arrived, and if anything, they were worse for the jaws than a bunch of sugarcane chunks.
The chappatis did not stop me from taking a mental trip down the Cauvery river, however. Yes, the chappatis were a sturdy breed that is the hallmark of the South Indian Chappati Making Foundation. You see the folks of the S.I.C-M-Foundation have a process:
1) You first sit on the floor with a huge bowl of flour, and one leg outstretched from beneath the saree.
2) You tip a generous serving of oil in the flour.
3) You knead it to a rubbery consistency that is bordering on hard. Sort of like those mock cork balls.
4) You take up approx 323 sq ft with spread out magazines, and flour and generally shoo the crows and children wanting to play with the flour away.
5) Then, you proceed to roll out triangular chappatis that have a tendency to shine with oil
6) Once this arduous process is done, you can proceed to the actual task of putting them on the tava. Oil should be used again and poor triangular blighters have to be flipped back and forth till you have a coloration that tells you not to expect something soft.
The SICMF does not like to see soft chapatis without oil. The chaps have to be mid way into being poories, stop short and decide in the last minute to become parottas, and stay in the limbo between Roti Land, Poori Land and Parotta Land.
The process takes a brisk 58 minutes for 15 chappatis, and is usually served with ‘Gurma’.
For the records, I was not scarred excessively with the chappati-poori-parotta treatment, since my mother broke her ties with SICMF early in her career, and we had fantastic, soft rotis instead of chappatis.