Why Does One Side of a Chapati (Indian flatbread) Get Inflated, While The Other Doesn’t?

This is an article for those people who are simply in love with cooking chapatis. Since I have tried (unsuccessfully) cooking chapatis myself, I know how difficult the process can be. There are many things that need to be taken care of while cooking a chapati. First of all, you have to ensure that the flour is adequately dry so that it doesn’t stick to the roller (belan in Hindi), the surface on which you intend to roll your chapati should be smooth, and you can’t forget to maintain that challenging circular shape. The last time I tried my hands at cooking chapati, I came up with a shape that pretty much resembled the Asian subcontinent – not ideal!

Uncooked dough is made up of three components: Water, Flour and air bubbles (which are trapped inside). Flour is a complex carbohydrate that, when coming in contact with water molecules, forms long molecular chains, giving the substance a sticky surface.

Chapati on Coal

A roti (Indian flatbread) cooking on a coal fire. (Credits:Nila Newsom/Shutterstock)

The Key to Inflating Only One Side of Chapati

When you heat the raw circular (uncooked) chapati on a stove, make sure that one side of the flour is heated more than the other side. Due to this, one side (the one that is heated more) gets drier and lighter than the other side. This results in a division of the layers.

Furthermore, as the entire piece of dough is heated, the air bubbles trapped inside it, along with water molecules, get converted into steam and expand, This expansion produces a force that inflates the chapati, giving it that classic appearance – and delicious consistency when we eat it!

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Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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