Master The Skill Of Kneading Chapati Dough With This Recipe

Chapatis, or rotis are a staple food in most Indian households. The flatbread is the perfect accompaniment for subzis and curries and is made nearly every day in the mornings. Chapatis are packed in lunchboxes with veggies, lentils and salad for a perfect afternoon meal at work or at lunchbreak in schools. This flatbread is classically made from wheat flour and learning how to roll a perfectly round chapati is a life skill indeed.

It was during the pandemic, when most of us returned to the kitchen with a new zeal that we learnt the trade secrets of kneading a perfect dough for rolling out chapatis which remained fresh and soft throughout the day. Mothers, grandmothers and home cooks who have been making rotis for decades shared their wisdom accumulated over the years to help us perfect this technique. Their tricks included handy hacks like allowing the dough to rest, or adjusting the quantity of water according to the type of chapati being made. In pursuit of the perfect chapati or phulka, the sheer number of times we taken a small ball of dough and used a rolling pin to flatten it out into a roti is too large to count indeed!

However, the key to a perfect roti actually lies in kneading the dough properly. The ingredients are meagre, and readily available at home. All you need is wholewheat flour, a pinch of salt, some water and a bit of oil. The trick then lies in the kneading itself, a skill that needs to be mastered with patience, care and meticulousness over a period of time. 

The kind of roti variations made in India are as diverse as the households and regions in which wheat flour is used to make chapati. While some prefer to roll thin, warm phulkas for lunch and dinner, others in the northern part of India roll out thicker wheat rotis or parathas that can be savoured with dal and thick, dense curries. No matter the kind of chapatis you make, the basic technique of kneading the dough requires you to apply a gentle pressure to bring the flour and water together, without too much force to render the dough into a soft and smooth base for rolling out the roti.

Before you move on to reading a simple three-step recipe of kneading the dough, here are some tips to keep in mind that will help you to make the perfect raw material required for making a puffy chapati or phulka:

1. Choose Flour: If you are buying readymade flour, choose a wheat flour rich in fibre that is smooth and only moderately coarse, appropriate for making soft rotis.

2. Rest The Dough: The jury might still be out on the resting time for puri dough but when it comes to chapatis, rest the dough for a short time before rolling it out to make warm flatbreads.

3. Adjust The Water: Instead of pouring in all the water at once, start slowly by adding water as required otherwise the dough can turn into a mushy mess.

4. Add A Pinch Of Salt: Adding a bit of salt to the dough while kneading gives it a delicious seasoning that brings out the slight sweetness of the wheat.

5: Give An Oil Rub: Once the dough is kneaded, pour a few drops of oil on your hands and rub it all over the dough, cleaning up the flour residue on your hands and on the flat vessel in which you knead the dough.

Now that you know some of the tricks of the trade, you will be able to knead the perfect dough with just a little bit of practice. Read on below for a quick recipe for kneading chapati dough:


2 cups of whole wheat flour

¾ cup water

Pinch of salt

2 tsp oil


1. In a flat-bottomed, wide vessel, pour the flour and add salt and 1 tsp oil.

2. Start adding water as required and bring the dough together using your fingers. As you start kneading, the wheat flour will exude heat and feel warm under your fingers.

3. Bring together the dough by steadily applying pressure on it. Once the dough comes together rub it with a bit of oil. To check if the dough is the right consistency, jab your fist inside. If it leaves an impression, the dough is soft enough. Rest for a few minutes and get cracking on rolling out perfectly round chapatis!