Sunday, August 17, 2008

Grilled Chapati

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A few months ago, I abandoned the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and started getting the New York Times every day. I was sorry to give up the Star-Tribune, which, as a small-town girl coming to the big city of St. Paul for college, lo these many years ago, seemed like a sophisticated newspaper to me. As many of its best reporters and columnists fell victim to budget slashes, it pretty much stopped covering national and international news--except for condensed versions of stories from the Times. Now I love getting the NYTimes every morning, especially on Tuesday (the Science section, which you can read even if you know nothing about science) and on Wednesday, when they have the food section.
I always go to Mark Bittman's The Minimalist column first, and when I saw his recipe for grilled chapati, I knew that would be my weekly bread. First, I love Indian bread, and second, it was going to be hot this weekend, so a no-yeast, no-rise, no-oven bread sounded pretty good.
Then, next door to Bittman's column on page D3 was Melissa Clark's recipe for grilled sausages and summer beans with herbs, tomatoes and caramelized onions. Maybe Mark and Melissa didn't plan it that way, but their recipes sounded like they belonged together.
Jim offered to cook today, but I was so in love with the idea of chapati, sausages, beans, herbs, etc. that I turned him down.
I caramelized the onions and was going to start mixing up the chapati dough (which is simplicity itself: 2 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 cup AP flour, 1 t. salt, and 1 cup water, mixed in a food processor)when I realized that my food processor was suddenly not working.
I was irritated, but not panicked. After all, hadn't Indian women been making chapati for hundreds of years without a food processor? I just transferred the flours to my KitchenAid--which is much more primitive--and mixed everything up. While the dough rested, I stirred the beans now and then and got the sausages ready for the grill.

As much as I like Mark Bittman, he does have a way of making everything sound easier than it really is: "When you're ready to grill, just tear off walnut- to golf-ball-size pieces, roll them out with a little flour and toss onto the grill." The word "toss" makes everything sound so cavalier and devil-may-care. I don't know about Mark Bittman's kitchen arrangements, but my grill is outside and my counter, where I roll out dough, is in the kitchen. And we eat on the back porch. So, although the "tossing" part is not so hard, the running back and forth from grill to stove to counter to porch is a workout.

But I love to bake unleavened bread that puffs up as it cooks--it always seems like a miracle to me. And that's what happens to chapati. After you toss it on the grill, you watch it puff up, then you turn it over, hoping that it hasn't burned, and brown it on the other side.

The sausages were a combination of pork sausage with fennel pollen, pork sausage with pesto, and bratwurst.

My favorite was the fennel pollen, but it might just be because it sounds so much more exotic than bratwurst.
The grilled chapati and sausages were excellent, but the star of the show was really the beans.

Picking up the subtle sweetness of the caramelized onions and the yellow cherry tomatoes, and the zing of the herbs, the beans were so delicious they could have almost passed for dessert. I can hardly believe I just wrote that sentence, but these beans were seriously good.


jini said...

everything looks delicious marie! i think i need to try these recipes, for sure!! i'm wondering if you used clancy's sausages? they sound like their yummy creations.
sadly i agree with you on the demise of the ain't what it used to be!! i always read the ny times on line, but that could change. thanks for the inspiration!! again.

Melinda said...

I love it that you get excited to have sausages and beans! They do look excellent.
I get the Telegraph paper. They feel the need to put elitist food in the food section mostly. They are things that don't sound good or that I will want to run out and get the irritating ingredients for. Todays offering was a soup called Three Greens Soup. It has spinach, sorrel, and chard. It makes up into a sludge brown colour.
No, I can't get excited about that. Or the usual offal, tripe or pig trotters recipes. I would be thrilled to see a recipe for yummy beans, but it is way too pedestrian for the Telegraph to print.
I love chapati bread. And I think it sounds a perfect food for the BBQ sausages and beans.

breadbasketcase said...

Yes, I used Clancy's wonderful sausages. I would have put a link to their web site, but they don't have a web site. What's up with that?

I get way too excited about food, I'm afraid. I like spinach, sorrel and chard--but sludge brown? Not too appetizing. But speaking of appetizing, I haven't seen the rum cream pie on anyone's blog yet? I'm trying to figure out when to make it so I won't be tempted to eat the whole thing.

Doughadear said...

The chapati look like a lot of fun to make. I'm going to have to whip up a batch myself. I haven't made grilled bread yet although I keep wanting to try grilled pizza but never get around to it. Your dinner really looks delicious! Carmelize onions add so much flavour how can this bean recipe not be fabulous!

Ethan said...

I read the NY Times online and I ended up making the chapatis that night. I didn't go all out with the whole NY Times menu. Served it with grilled chicken, hummus, and a greek salad. I put a bit of garlic and cumin in the chapatis. Quite good, in fact, so good I didn't even get around to photographing them, which is a shame because the looked better than my other grilled bread lately. I'm definitely going to try the beans now. Thanks for the review!

breadbasketcase said...

Grilled pizza is on my list of things to try too. It always seems like there's such a multitude of things that could go wrong--especially the whole thing collapsing and falling into the fire.

I think your grilled bread looks terrific! I was planning to add a little onion to the chapati dough, but I got sidetracked when my food processor didn't work. I thought about cumin too, but thought it might compete with the other strong flavors. It sounds like it worked for you.

Marty said...

Everything looks great. Couple of questions. Any problem with the dough sticking to the grill? Do you think this would work with an indoor cast iron grill pan, oil or not? Thanks, Marty

breadbasketcase said...

I was a little concerned about a possible sticking problem, but they didn't stick at all. The next night, I used the other half of the dough and added chopped onion to it. I brushed the tops with oil and sprinkled with sea salt. The second batch also wasn't as thin. Still no problem with sticking, even though this version tasted quite a bit different.
I would think a cast iron grill pan would work well too, but it would have to be pretty hot, I would think.

pinknest said...

oh i'm so glad you made this! i love chapati, and when i saw the recipe in bittman's column, i also wanted to make it. haven't gotten around to it yet, though. yours looks yummy!

breadbasketcase said...

I wish you could have tested it for authenticity--can't wait to see photos on your blog when you make it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marie,

Once again, I am so glad to check in with your blog. Sometimes I am not in the mood to think about cooking or baking (that does happen, from time to time) and yet your stories are always worth it. Your writing often sounds like what a good friend would say when she tells you about her day...the days just always include food, lol. You must be a great friend or, even better, neighbor (this is better because you seem to like to share the fresh-baked bread).

Hope you are well!

Laura :-)

PS: I have never been to MN but I am originally from need fresh bread to get through the winters.

breadbasketcase said...

Well, thank you very much. When I'm talking to my friends, I can tell when I'm boring them because they start yawning or they change the subject. Writing into the blogosphere, it's harder to know how (or if) people are reacting.
If you remember Wisconsin, it's almost exactly like Minnesota, except there are more bars in Wisconsin. Because you not only need fresh bread to get through the winters, you can also use a drink or two.

Matin said...

The bean salad looks great:-)

breadbasketcase said...


Anonymous said...

I hope they have sausages like that in heaven! And bread. On earth, I would eat the beans, but who needs fiber in heaven, right?

Looks delicious,

breadbasketcase said...

Even in heaven you'd want to eat these beans. (I'll admit I like the idea of not having to pay attention to fiber content in heaven--or fat or salt either, right?)

Anonymous said...

I love beans cooked similarly so I'm sure I would really like these too.

I printed off the NYTimes Chipati recipe and showed it to my Indian friend. He told me that the wheat flour/white flour ratio in the recipe is a good substitute, but that Indians use Chapati flour. He says that it makes a slightly different flavor that's better. In my case, I would have to travel 100 miles to the nearest Indian market. He also said that if they don't puff, they aren't edible and that the margin of error with the water content is very small. So with that, I think you did a fabulous job getting them to turn out on the first try! He's not much of a baker, though he cooks well, so that could be part of his problem. Anyway, I want to try them this week. Anna

breadbasketcase said...

I'm SO glad I didn't know what touchy little things these things are--I would have been much more apprehensive about making them!
Let me know how yours turn out.