Chapati: Simple East African Flat Bread Recipe

Chapati is an unleavened flat Bread eaten in East Africa Countries like Mozambique, Burundi Uganda, Kenya.

Easy to make with a few simple ingredients and extremely versatile, this side dish staple can easily be paired with almost any dish whether sweet or savory.

The East African Chapati is very similar to the Indian Paratha (one of the most popular unleavened flatbreads in India).

Nevertheless, culture must have played its part in the slight modification in its mode of preparation likened to the Indian variety.

Origin of Chapati

Chapati, also called roti, shabaati, safati, phulka and roshi, is unleavened flat bread originating from the Indian subcontinent and a staple in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, East Africa and the Caribbean.

Though East African Chapati originated from the Indian Chapati through the Indian traders centuries ago, it is slightly different from it.

This has to do with the oil as part of the ingredients and the type of flour used.

The East Africans use plain all-purpose flour, whereas the Indians use whole wheat flour. Chapati is closer to the Indian Paratha in its ingredients and mode of rolling.

It’s fascinating how what looks like the same thing has different names in other countries, like tortilla, pita, and man’ooshe, or shawarma, doner kebab, and gyro.

In Pakistan and India, flatbreads are generally called roti but there are different varieties and ingredients. However, in Thailand, it’s more like crepes or pancakes.

This flatbread is popular and a staple in other regions like Caribbean Bangladesh Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan.

You can eat Chapati with stews for lunches or dinner or with butter for breakfast. It can be made with whole wheat flour, All-purpose flour or mixture of both.

Varieties of Chapati

There are so many ways that you can make this traditional Indian Flat Bread like Paneer Chapati prepared by adding grated Paneer to the Chapati Dough.

Then the Radish or Mullandi Chapati where you add grated Radish and Turmeric Powder to the Chapati Dough to give it that earthy aroma.

Also, the Vegetable Stuffed Chapati where you mush and saute Carrot, Potato, Fenugreek, and Peas into Marsala gravy and then rolled into the Chapati.

Chapatis are a great meal because you can make them and reheat them the next day. You can preserve them by Putting in freezer bags or just any polythene bag to prevent from absorbing water in the freezer. Throw them in the freezer until the time you need them.

How Make East African Chapati


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water


  1. Firstly, in a large bowl add half of the water (about 50ml) and the salt.
  2. Secondly, add the flour to the salted water and use your hands to mix well. Then add the vegetable oil and combine well.
  3. Thirdly, slowly pour the remaining water on flour mixture while mixing until the dough forms a ball and is soft.
  4. Please note: the dough should not stick to your hands at case it dough sticks, add a little more flour or if it is too dry add a bit of water.
  5. Fourthly, transfer the dough on your kitchen counter and quickly knead it for 10 minutes. This is to achieve a smooth, soft and elastic consistency.
  6. Then pour a generous amount of vegetable oil on your hand and divide the dough into 5 small balls. Then cover with a napkin and let them rest for 15 – 20 minutes.
  7. After that, use a rolling pan to flatten the dough balls into a round shape until quite thin. If the dough is sticking to the rolling pan sprinkle with a little bit of flour.
  8. Lastly, heat a non-stick pan on medium-high heat and add the chapatti. Wait for 45 seconds or till you see bubbles over the top, then flip and cook the other side. You can brush the chapattis with vegetable oil on top.

Above all, the cooking time should not exceed 2 minutes. Remove and cook the remaining until done.

Chapati Flat Bread
Chapati Indian Flat Bread


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