Chapatis on the barbecue

With the temperature up to 40°C and set to stay up, baking isn’t really an option; I don’t think that our kitchen would survive the combination of the Australian sun and the excess heat leaked out of our badly sealed oven. So, instead, I decided to make an Indian flatbread outside on the hot plate of the BBQ.

Preparing the chapatis, made from spelt and plain flour

Unleavened flatbreads – that is, breads with no wild or commercial yeast to make them rise – are ideal for hot weather like this because there is no chance of them over fermenting or ‘over proofing’. In fact, for a flat bread, the more heat the better when cooking. In a chapati, it is the searing heat of the oven, tava, or in this case the BBQ plate that causes the bread to rise: air trapped inside the dough whilst kneading puffs up and lightens the bread.

Crank that barbecue up to maximum – the more heat the better.

Chapatis makes 8

  • 100g plain white flour
  • 100g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 140g lukewarm water
  • ghee or butter
  1. Sift together the flours and salt onto a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre of the flour.
  2. Using your fingers, gradually add the water to the centre and work in the flour. Continue until you have a smooth dough.
  3. Knead for 5 minutes.
  4. Rest in an oiled bowl for 30 minutes. Preheat barbecue to max, with the lid down if available.
  5. Divide the dough into eight portions and roll each into a rough ball.
  6. On a well floured surface roll each ball into a disc around 15cm in diameter with a floured rolling pin. Transfer to a floured plate and dust with additional flour. Repeat with the rest, stacking up on the plate. Avoid getting the dough too warm at this point as the chapatis will stick together.
  7. Grease the hot plate of the barbecue with a little butter or ghee. Shake or toss the chapatis from hand to hand to remove excess flour, then place on the barbecue.
  8. Depending on the heat of your barbecue, cook on each side for 15 seconds to 1 minute, until puffed up and beginning to char.
  9. Brush each finished chapati with a little ghee or butter and place under a clean tea towel. Repeat with the remaining dough. Serve with a wet curry or dhal.
Chapatis cooking on the BBQ hot plate
The finished chapatis, ready for a curry