Spelt Flour Chapati Recipe


In fitting with today’s delightfully autumnal weather, I decided to cook a hearty vegetarian curry with butternut squash. As is the case for most dishes, Indian curries taste best if eaten with freshly baked breads. I’ve made this spelt flour chapati recipe many times since visiting India in 2007 and it didn’t let me down today. These homemade spelt chapatis are no hassle at all – you’ll be done in just over an hour.

Spelt flour chapatis
Spelt flour chapatis

When visiting Malaysia recently, I picked up a tava (a round flat or slightly concave iron griddle) used in Indian cooking to make flatbreads. I haven’t got the traditional Atta flour handy, so I’m opting for a mix of wholemeal and white spelt flour instead.

Chapatis are…

  • Unleavened flatbreads (i.e. made from a dough containing no yeast or leavening agents)
  • An integral part of the Indian cuisine (also eaten in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia)
  • Traditionally made with Atta flour (stone ground wholemeal flour which has been sifted to remove the coarsest bran), salt and water. You can use a mixture of wholemeal and white flour if you don’t have Atta flour to hand.
  • Cooked on a tava (you can also use a flat bottom non-stick frying pan)

Spelt chapati recipe

Ingredients for 6 chapatis

  • 100g finely ground wholemeal spelt flour
  • 100g white spelt flour plus extra for dusting
  • 125g water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil plus extra for brushing

How to make the spelt flour chapatis

Before you follow the instructions, here is a video for a quick introduction of the process:

  1. Place the spelt flours, water and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Form a soft dough with your hands. Note that firmer dough is easier to handle but makes harder chapatis. If required, just add a little more water until you get the right consistency.
  3. Add a tablespoon of oil and transfer to a clean surface.
  4. Knead for about 10 minutes.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a bowl and cover.
  6. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes.
  7. Divide into 6 equal pieces.
  8. Shape the dough into balls by rolling the pieces between your palms.
  9. Place them on a lightly dusted surface.
  10. Roll out the dough balls (one by one) into a thin round on a lightly floured surface.
  11. Heat up a frying pan over a medium heat and place the chapatis (one at a time) straight on the hot surface.
  12. Keep it there for about 30 seconds until blisters appear and it becomes slightly darker in colour.
  13. Turn and cook the other side in the same way. The steam trapped in the middle will cause the chapati to puff up. Use a clean kitchen towel to gently push down as air pockets form.
  14. Once done, lightly brush the chapati with rapeseed oil (traditionally ghee is used) and cover with a clean dish towel until ready to serve.
Spelt chapatis
Spelt chapatis

Enjoy with dhal or your favourite curry – no cutlery needed!

Wholemeal, Wholewheat, Wholegrain Flour… Confused?


Depending on the recipe you use, where you live and where you shop, flour can be named differently.

In general, wholemeal, wholewheat and wholegrain flour all refer to unrefined flours i.e. flours which are made of the whole grain (including bran, germ and endosperm). Note that wholewheat refers to flour made from wheat, while the terms wholemeal and wholegrain can also refer to other varieties of grain e.g. rye, spelt or buckwheat. Wholewheat could therefore also be described as wholemeal made from 100% wheat.

Refined (white) flours on the other hand only contain the endosperm of the grain (the bran and germ are removed) helping these flours to keep longer. However, by removing bran and germ, the flour also loses valuable nutritional components such as fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Brown flour uses a proportion of the whole grain, but usually not 100%.

There are regulations in place (“The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998” in the UK for example) which specify that four vitamins and minerals must be added to all white and brown flour (not wholemeal) to ensure the population still has an adequate intake of these vitamins and minerals even if they chose not to eat wholemeal. The process is called flour enrichment. The added nutrients are calcium, iron, thiamine and niacin which occur naturally in wholemeal but are lost in white, and to a certain extent brown flour. One key difference remains: refined flours are missing the dietary fibre of wholemeal.

The term wholemeal is more commonly used in the UK, while wholewheat and wholegrain are terms more frequently used in the US.

There are exceptions to this rule of course. I frequently buy Gilchesters Organics wholewheat flour (produced in Northumberland in the UK).

Gilchesters Organics Stoneground Organic 100% Whole Wheat Flour
100% Whole Wheat – Gilchesters Organics Flour

To make things more complicated (in the US in particular), you might come across white wholewheat flour. White wholewheat is made using whole white wheat grains while regular wholewheat is made from red wheat grains. White wheat is a type of wheat which has no major genes for bran color. White wholewheat is a lighter flour with a finer texture and milder flavour compared to regular wholewheat. Nutritionally, the two types of wheat are very similar.

Note that due to the different climate/agronomy, the wheat varieties grown in the UK differ to the wheat types in the US.