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RECIPE | East African chapatis

These light and flaky flatbreads are the perfect accompaniment to stews, dips, soups and more, says Jane Nshuti of Tamu by Jane

27 June 2021 - 00:00 By Jane Nshuti
Jane Nshuti's East African chapatis are available via Tamu By Jane.
Jane Nshuti's East African chapatis are available via Tamu By Jane.
Image: Supplied

“Chapati is a pan-fried unleavened flatbread eaten in countries such as Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya,” says self-taught vegan chef Jane Nshuti.

“They are a very big part of East African cuisine because they serve as a food carrier. In many cases they are used as bases to support other dishes, and add a balance to every meal. This means they accompany stews, dips, sauces, soups and other side dishes.”

Needless to say, chapatis are one the highlights of the plant-based Sunday lunch menus offered by Nshuti’s food delivery service Tamu By Jane, which is based in Cape Town.

Nshuti says the East African chapati is different from the Indian chapati because it is made with white bread flour and is coiled and brushed with oil.

“The purpose of the coil is to create layers within the chapati and help it become light and flaky. While you pan fry them you lightly brush the outer layer with a little oil, giving them a crispy edge.”


Makes: 10 - 15 chapatis


360g (3 cups) bread flour not cake flour plus extra for kneading and dusting

5ml (1 tsp) salt

125ml (½ cup) vegetable oil, plus extra for frying

375ml (1 ½ cups) of hot water, not so hot that it burns your hands


  1. Place the flour in a bowl. Add the salt, 60ml (4 tbsp) oil and 250ml (1 cup) hot water.
  2. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding flour and water if needed.  
  3. Transfer the dough onto a flat surface and continue kneading for 10 minutes, adding extra flour as needed to make the dough more pliable but not hard.
  4. Place the dough in a bowl, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 10 to 15 equal parts, making ball-like shapes.
  6. Place the dough balls on a flat surface dusted with flour, cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Take a dough ball and, using a rolling pin, roll it into a circular shape. Brush the top with some of the remaining oil, then roll it up into a rope-like shape. Coil the rope up as if you were making a cinnamon roll, then flatten it with the palm of your hand. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
  8. Just before frying, use a rolling pin to roll the flattened coils of dough into circular shapes. 
  9. Place a chapati in a preheated pan, brush with oil and fry over a medium heat until golden brown on both sides. Repeat with the remaining chapatis, keeping the cooked ones warm by covering them with a clean cloth.


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