Grease the griddle with little oil/butter after cooking each batch. That is 4 pancakes on the griddle at a time makes a batch. If not, the next batch may cook unevenly or may stick to the surface of the griddle. I prefer doing this as this gives me uniformly cooked pancakes.
Measure ingredients carefully by lightly spooning it into the measuring cup, then leveling off with the back of a knife.
Check the heat of the griddle by flicking a drop of water. If it sizzles and evaporates, that is the perfect temperature (375 ° F)
Always pour wet ingredients into the dry ones. Vice versa will give dense pancakes.
After spooning the batter onto the griddle, let it spread by itself into a circle.
Leftover batter can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for upto 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before using to make pancakes.
Extra pancakes can be frozen for later use. Store in a freezer bag by placing a piece of parchment paper between each pancake. That makes separating easy. Reheat in an oven at 200 degree F for 10 minutes. Microwaved pancakes are chewy and heated unevenly. That’s my personal experience.
If your batter is too thick, add some warm milk and oil/butter. Mix gently. If the batter is too thin, add extra flour one teaspoon at a time to form a smooth batter.
Do not use a stand or hand mixer to make the batter. A spatula is good enough to do the job. Over mixed batter will definitely give flat and dense pancake.
Sit the pancake batter for at least 15-30 minutes before use which gives the baking soda time to work on the batter. Old batter gives fluffy and light pancakes.
For Soft Chapatis
I fortify the dough by adding 1 tablespoon of ground wheatgerm (vitamin and mineral-rich layer of the wheat berry) and 1 tablespoon of milled flax seeds (excellent source omega-3 fatty acids) for extra nutrition. It’s a personal choice. Traditionally, the dough is made with flour, water and salt.
For very soft chapathis, replace water with warm milk or dahi (Indian yogurt) or buttermilk . Sometimes, I use whey (the liquid or milk serum remaining after making paneer) to mix the dough. Whey is rich in protein and contains lactose that tenderizes the dough. In that case, I omit adding yogurt.
Use less processed regular yogurt to make the dough. The lactic acid producing good bacteria and the fat content in the yogurt tenderizes the dough. Alas, the probiotics in the yogurt is killed when the chapati is cooked on the griddle.
For every cup measure of flour, I add a tablespoon of yogurt and a teaspoon of oil. That proportion works for me. You can experiment various proportions.
The quality of the flour varies from brand to brand. If you use a new brand of flour, it may not be the same as your previous brand. It takes a while to configure the brand and type of flour that works best.
I use coarse ground whole wheat flour. Plus adding wheatgerm and flaxseeds makes it coarser. The coarseness of the hard wheat flour helps in rolling out thinner chapatis. I like soft but textured and full bodied chapatis. Coarseness of the flour and the kneading decides the softness of the chapatis. It may take a few attempts to get the hang of it.
I use AP flour/ Maida for dusting for it’s fine texture. You can use whole wheat flour as well. Clear the chapati off excess dry flour before placing it on the skillet. Excess dry flour on the chapatis will give card board hard chapati with dry white patches.
Not all chapatis have to puff/swell up. Even without puffing up, chapatis will cook well and remain soft.
Re-rolling the dough disc gives uneven thickness – hard and dry chapatis. This is my personal experience.
Always smear oil on the cooked surface of the chapati. Uncooked surface absorbs oil and remains dry.
Do not leave the chapati on the heated skillet for long. This gives hard overcooked crisp chapatis.
Do not FLIP too many times. They get stubborn and hard. 3 flips max.
Some add a tablespoon of besan flour (Indian chickpea flour) for every cup of whole wheat flour to get flaky chapathis. Some add 2 measures of whole wheat flour and 1 measure AP flour to make the chapati dough. I have not tried either versions, so can’t comment yet. Give it a try and let me know.
Once you figure out the right consistency of the dough, then fortify the dough with supplements like chopped green leafy vegetables – fenugreek leaves(methi roti), spinach(palak roti)spice powder and cilantro leaves(masala roti), grated vegetables (carrot roti), vegetable puree/juice (beetroot roti), mutligrain flour like soy flour, barley flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour for added flavor, color and nutrition.
I wrap the excess dough in a plastic film and store in the refrigerator for about 5 days. This gives ample time for the gluten in the dough tenderize resulting in super soft chapatis. Thaw dough for an hour before making chapatis. Cold dough results in hard chapatis.
Do not roll out all dough balls at one time as it dries out before cooking. With practice you will roll out the next chapati while cooking one on the griddle. I can proudly say that I do simultaneously roll out one and cook another on the griddle as well as cook the curry on another burner. The whole ordeal is completed within 15-20 minutes.
If you are determined to get a perfect round disc and unable to roll out one, place a round sauce pan lid over the rolled dough and cut around the edges to get a perfect round. Collect all the dough cut from the edges and sprinkle some water to make a moist dough ball and roll out a chapati. Do not waste the dough.
Always keep in mind that the right flour, ample kneading and resting the dough (at least an hour or best left to rest overnight in the refrigerator) and the right cooking temperature gives soft chapatis.
After trying all this, if your chapatis are still hard, try half measure of AP flour and half measure of wholewheat flour for making the dough. I’ve never tried this variation. Try out and let me know.