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Whole Grain Phulka

Cooking at Home: Whole Grain Phulkas

I’ve been craving carbs lately (see previous post); in my latest attempt to alleviate my cravings for all things floury, I tried my hand at making some Indian flatbreads.

I decided to try making phulkas, which are unleavened flatbreads made with only flour and water (no oil). When the phulkas are cooked, no oil is used; the flatbreads are thrown on a hot cast iron griddle, flipped, then finished over an open flame. I’ve recently become a fan of Manjula (her blog is full of wonderful traditional Indian recipes and videos accompanying them; she makes everything look so easy and effortless; I highly recommend it). Her blog post on roti served as my inspiration.

Cooking at Home: Whole Grain Phulkas

As I didn’t have any of the Indian flours in my pantry (I must make a trip to a local Indian grocer!), I found myself trying various combinations of flours (all whole-wheat, half cornmeal/white flour, 1/4 besan (chickpea flour), 1/4 cornmeal, 1/2 white flour, half oat flour and half white flour), I found that the cornmeal versions dried out too quickly and became frisbees after a few hours; the ones made with half oat flour and half white flour stayed soft and had a pleasant nutty flavor (and much healthier than ones made with all white flour!). More importantly, making sure that the dough was kneaded until completely smooth and resting it for at least a half an hour ensured that the phulka puffed up over the open flame.

The recipe I have below is more of a guideline; factors such as the flour you use, humidity, and temperature of the water will determine whether you achieve phulka success or not. Even if they don’t puff up, they’ll still be tasty nonetheless.

Cooking at Home: Whole Grain Phulkas

Whole-Grain Phulkas
What you’ll need:

  • 30g oat flour
  • 30g all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • warm water

Useful tools to have: a silicon baking mat to knead the dough, a cast-iron griddle, small french-style rolling pin, tongs.

The procedure:

Mix the flours together with your hands, make a well in the center. Pour warm water slowly into the flour mixture while mixing with one hand until a rough dough is achieved. Keep kneading (adding water as necessary) until you get a smooth, soft ball of dough.

Lightly oil a piece of plastic wrap, wrap the dough in it and allow to rest for at least 30 mins.

Divide the dough into three walnut-sized balls. Dip each ball into some flour to keep it from sticking to the mat when you’re rolling them out. Roll out each phulka into a 6″ circle.

Heat a griddle over medium-high heat (too hot or too cool of a skillet will result in a dry phulka). Test to see if it’s hot enough by flicking a few drops of water on it; if it sizzles, it’s ready. Turn on another burner on medium heat (for finishing the phulka). Throw a phulka on the griddle, watch until it turns color (should turn a paler color); about 45 secs to 1 minute. Flip the phulka over and cook for another 30 seconds.

Using the tongs, carefully pick up the phulka and place it over the open flame, allowing it to puff up (should take about 5 seconds) and char in some spots. Flip over for another 5 seconds, then wrap in a kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out while making the other ones.

These should really be eaten immediately as they tend to dry out due to the lack of fat or oil. However, if you find yourself with extra, keep them in the kitchen towel and place in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator. I find that steaming them the next day refreshes them to a more pliable state.

Enjoy! Some suggestions for serving: a nice chutney, yogurt, curry, or as a wrap for scrambled tofu, salad, etc. The possibilities are endless, really.

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