Sustaining sweet chapatti mix
I blame my father, and his father, my Dhadha-ji, for my sweet tooth. Vivid images of the rare treat of churri are seared in my memory. I sat cross-legged on the rug wearing a thick carpet of hair, wild and unmanageable. Dad sat with a mixing bowl in front of him while his fingers went to work like a blender, shredding fresh hot chapattis, lobbing in chunks of butter and sprinkling sugar from on high with the flourish of a wizard distributing magic dust. His spectacles balanced on the bridge of his nose as he inspected his efforts, eyes fixed as his long fingers laboured slowly and methodically, reducing the flatbread and its buddies to juicy morsels of sweetened dough, like a deconstructed doughnut.
Deliciously naughty as an adult, but innocently addictive as a child, this is a dish I’ve never experienced outside our family walls. For my father, it was another sustaining dish for his return from another food-starved term at boarding school. He was skinny and small for his age so my grandparents fed him with churri to fill his frame. I’m aching for another bowl, but strictly for medicinal purposes, of course!
How To Make Churri
Serves up to 4
- 400g wholemeal flour, more for dusting
- 250ml water
- 200g salted butter, at room temperature
- 4 tbsp sugar
First, make the chapatti flatbread. Mix the flour and water to create a soft dough, adding a little more flour if it’s too sticky. Cover and leave to stand for 30 minutes (overnight is better). Oil your palms and on a flour-dusted surface divide into 8-10 pieces and shape into balls. Flatten with the heel of your palm, then roll them into rounds of 15cm diameter.
Heat a tawa or large heavy frying pan over a high setting and then, when the pan is hot, reduce the heat to medium. One by one, add each chapatti to the pan, cooking for about 20 seconds, using a tea towel to press it lightly until you can feel the heat coming through. Be careful not to press too hard and make it stick to the pan. All you’re doing here is making sure the bread is cooked. It’ll start to puff and, as soon as it does this, flip it over and do the same again. You’re looking for brown, slightly blistered patches. Set aside in a tea towel keeping it hot, and repeat until they’re all made.
Tip the chapattis into a large bowl (resist eating them if you can) and start tearing them into tiny pieces. They should still be nice and warm. Slap in the butter and sugar and, using the tips of your fingers, start mincing the ingredients as if rubbing your thumbs across the tops of your fingers with the bread, butter and sugar in the middle. After a few minutes there should be little evidence of the grainy sugar and you’ll be staring at a flaky mixture. Decant into small serving bowls.
You can eat it with a fork but I prefer using fingers, pinching morsels in compressed bite-sizes.