How to make Indian flat bread / Chapathi dough using Autolysis method
Soft and pliable chapathi dough is every woman’s kitchen dream. My mom and your mom probably have told us that to get soft chapathi dough you need to knead the dough endlessly and beat the day lights out of it.
Raymond Calvel (Bread expert and Julia Child’s Bread Guru) disagrees ! He says for making great flavorful dough for bread, all you have to do is mix your flour and water together until the flour is all moistened, cover it, and just step away. When you come back after twenty minutes, add the salt, yeast and bring everything together, your bread dough is ready to proof ! Yes, it’s just that simple. Seriously. This technique is called as Autolysis.
Autolysis refers to the destruction of a cell by its own enzymes, or “self-splitting”. In baking, this means that enzymes in flour (amylase and protease) begin to break down the starch and protein in the flour. The starch gets converted to sugar, and the protein gets reformed as gluten. We try to create the same phenomenon by kneading the dough. Even though, Calvel here talks about using this technique in yeast bread making the same can be replicated for making Indian flat breads aka chapathis ! After all it is flour, water and salt we are talking about here. Is it getting too technical ? Let’s get it out of our way 🙂
This technique is indeed ground breaking relieving us from the drudgery of endless kneading ! My grandmother with osteoporosis silently thanks Calvel, for saving her the pain of kneading. Let’s see how to make autolysed chapathi dough –
For 1 cup of store bought Atta (whole wheat flour) like that of Ashirwad brand, you will need approximately 1/2 cup of water. That is 50% hydration. The water to flour ratio (hydration ratio) will differ slightly based on the texture/type of whole wheat flour. Usually coarser flours available in north India have the capability to absorb more water therefore you can go up to 70-80% hydration i.e., for 1 cup of flour you can use upto 3/4 cup of water. However, the super smooth (available in south India) varieties can only take upto 50-60% water. So, my advise is you start with 50% hydration and adjust as you go.
I recommend using warm water for hydrating the dough. In a bowl add 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp cooking oil. Add 1 cup whole wheat flour and combine to resemble wet sand texture. No need to knead ! Cover this and let it rest for 20-30 minutes. Go do you stuff ! After 30 minutes, just give it a brief mix (ok ok brief knead) and tada ! Your dough is read to make Indian flat breads – chapathi, phulks, paratha, poori…
Here is the video demo. Hope you find it useful –