Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fulka - Indian flatbread

Ever since I was a child, I was obsessed with cooking. I spent hours together begging my grandmothers or mom to let me do something in the kitchen. Sometimes, Mom would oblige me with a small ball of dough. I would spend my time perfecting my own flatbread using my toy rolling pin and toy rolling board/poLpaat. Then my mom would roast that flatbread and I would feel very proud of my achievement. I gradually progressed from making map shaped flatbreads to something that was pretty close to the circular shapes. I was then promoted to  the task of spreading toop/ghee on the roasted chapatis/fulkas.

My obsession with making/observing chapatis was especially encouraged by my moushi. She actually took me under her wings. She taught me how to knead a dough, how to make uniform balls. I was so eager to roast my own chapati. She had told me that she would teach me only on one condition. I was ready to do anything. She would say laughingly - you have to be tall enough to reach the kitchen platform and reach the gas!! I just couldn't wait. Finally, I reached the stage where I could finally roast my own fulkas. My maushi has a special method of roasting fulkas. I thought of sharing it with everyone. It's quite possible that everyone does exact same way but this is how I learned. My moushi learned it from her moushi or my grand aunt who was married to a Gujarati.

Now, fulkas are made by Maharashtrians, Gujaratis and Marwaris on the daily breads. I am sure the rest of the communities make it too. But I am sharing my observations. Maharashtrian fulkas are bigger than that of Gujarati counterpart. My Marwari friend had told me a (horror!) story that after the fulkas were ready, their cook would dunk the entire fulka into a big pot of ghee and serve.

I am sharing my aunt and grand aunt's Gujarati fulkas that we have been making for at least three generations in my family.

I got many requests since I started blogging, to blog about fulkas. But believe me, if it took me years to master (if I may say so!) this flatbread, it felt that it took me even more time to blog about it (due to proportions, pictures, steps and explanation).

Daily Indian Flatbread
1 cup wheat flour from Indian stores
Approx 1/2 cup water

1 tsp oil

Rice flour for dredging
Ghee/oil for smearing on the fulkas

1. Take flour in the paraat.
2. Add water gingerly to make a dough. add oil and keep kneading till the dough is not sticky anymore.
3. Cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
4. Make 12 uniform balls. Make sure that they have smooth edges and there are no crevices. This is very important to achieve the perfect circles.
5. Heat a cast iron/iron griddle or pan.
6. Dredge one ball in the rice flour which you will place in the side of the paraat. Flatten the ball with your fingers. Make sure that the ball is covered with rice flour on both the sides.
7. Roll into a thin flatbread. It's extremely important that the flatbread has uniform thickness from all the sides. Sometimes center gets thin while edges remain thick or vice versa.While you are rolling, the disc below also should roll in a circular motion.
8. By now your griddle/pan must be hot enough to start roasting. Switch the gas to low.
9. Place your flatbread on the pan. Do not disturb for at least 30 seconds.
10. When you see small bubbles, flip the fulka. Switch the gas to high immediately.
11. Now, roast till brown spots appear on the side which is at the bottom.
12. Take the pan off the heat. With the help of a tongue, flip and roast it directly on the flame till fulka puffs up like a football. Remember, you are putting the side which has no brown spots.
13. Take off the heat. Place in your container.
14. If you choose, smear ghee/toop - which is a traditional method.
15. Serve hot and puffed fulka from pan to plate.

Note -
1. My moushi/grandaunt's this method always results in a perfectly puffed fulka. However, even if you follow all the roasting tips perfectly, the rolling has to be perfect too. Most importantly, the entire fulka should have a uniform thickness.
2. I do not apply any ghee. I have seen that some people, these days, apply safola oil instead of ghee. You choose your own grease!:-D
3. Fulkas are meant to be eaten fresh. If kept for a long time, they may turn dry - especially if you don't use ghee/toop.If you do need to eat later, store them in a clean kitchen napkin.
4. Some people use wheat flour for dredging.  but rice flour does not stick too much while rolling the fulka and hence is preferred.
5. You can add salt to taste while kneading the dough, if you like.

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