Day 11 of Panchakarma – a quick chapati lesson

Day 11 of Panchakarma has also been treatment-free. A rest day, but rest I did not. Free to crack on with a few things, I did just that throughout the morning. Around mid-day I buzzed off to town to buy more vegetables. I also swung by Dr A’s clinic. If you’re not into cooking much, or not fond of chapatis, look away now. Today’s wee update is all about the chapati…..

Dr A had finished her session with my Panchakarma comrade and was enjoying her first break since 6am. She remarked about how good I looked – I think she said something about glowing. But I’d just cycled 12 minutes in the noon sunshine. Nevertheless she checked my pulses and seemed to confirm, for herself, that the glow was the right kind. I then shared my joy about my beetroot chapati success.

Having told me last week that she would show me how to make chapatis, she trotted off to her kitchen and came back holding a bowl with wheat flour in one hand and a pinch of salt between the fingers of her other. One of her helpers followed with a cup of water and a jar of ghee. Dr A went about showing me her method by first dropping the salt into the flour then poured a small amount of water in and mixed. When the flour and water where sticking to one another she added ghee and got stuck into kneading. And so it went until the dough was firm, well-mixed and not sticking to the sides of the bowl or her hand. Exactly and precisely as I’d read about yesterday, but done with a fluid, graceful kneading action. Dr A’s hands look as though they know how to massage anything. 

After the kneading I followed her into her kitchen where she demonstrated the fine art of rolling a chapati. What I had failed to do was to oil, or ghee, the chapati as I rolled. She tore off a bit of dough, dipped it into a bowl of flour and put it on the rolling surface. She rolled the dough out into a circle, placed a dab of ghee in the middle, folded the circle in half and half again. The dough was now a triangle which she rolled, turned, rolled and turned. She did all that without the ladles of flour I’d used. The neat part was how she got the darn thing off the rolling surface. Using her fingers at first, she eased off an edge and got her fingers under, then placed her other hand opposite and proceeded to flip the dough back and forth between her hands all the while gently teasing the flattened dough up and away and then straight onto the hot tawa. Expert. Her graceful handling of the dough from start to finish had been beautiful to watch. Both intimidating and inspiring. Wish I’d videoed her doing it. The two chapatis were delicious. Light. Tasty. Flaky on the outside but with a soft, steamy middle layer because of the folding and ghee during the rolling process. A marvellous treat for all of me: mental – I’d learned the specifics of chapati-making; physical – I got to eat the finished product; emotional – chapati is comfort food and I felt taken care of.

All that said, I’m having a break from chapatis. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have another go.

In whatever form you have your culinary pleasures today – make them mindful.