Gluten Free Chapati

Chapati are Indian flatbreads, essentially wholewheat, Indian counterparts for Mexican tortillas.

They are tasty, slightly chewy, moist, and pliant, and are good for scooping up mouthfuls of curry. They’re also quick and easy to make. If you find they’re too stiff, they’re over cooked and you should raise the cooking temperature a little (so that they get their brown spots before drying out) or shorten the cooking time. I find that as I’m cooking more chapatis, the cast iron pan gets hotter and I have to turn down the heat so I have time to roll out a chapati while the previous one is cooking.

chapati

Quantities to serve 4
1 oz (1/4 cup) teff flour
1 oz (1/4 cup) garfava (or garbanzo bean) flour
2 oz (1/2 cup) tapioca flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
4 fl oz (1/2 cup) water

Preheat a griddle or cast iron frying pan on medium high heat (don’t use oil, these shouldn’t be fried).

Stir all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add the oil and water.

Beat all together with a butter knife until a smooth, soft, moist (but not too sticky) dough is formed. Add a little more water or flour as necessary.

Dust the work-surface with a little more of one of the flours. Take enough dough for one chapati (the size of a large egg or 1/4 of the dough), dust a rolling pin with the flour, and roll out the dough into an even, 8″ round.

Put the uncooked chapati onto the heated pan, and cook until small brown spots appear on the bottom (~2 minutes). Turn the chapati over, and cook on the other side for about a minute until it too has small brown spots on it.

Eat immediately, or place between two pieces of kitchen paper until you’re ready to eat, to prevent them drying out.

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Bean and Quinoa Tortillas and Pita

I think this may be my favorite tortilla recipe to date. It makes tortillas that are soft and chewy, and not too highly flavored. The mixture of flours (including the starch) gives us a protein content above that of wholewheat flour, and a fiber content somewhere between wholewheat and white.

A problem for me with all of the gluten free cooking has been that, in general, the greater the nutritional value of a flour, the greater its flavor, which in some cases is rather intrusive. However, I also think that if you mix your flours, then you can reduce the impact of any one pronounced flavor, and allowing the cooked products to cool also results in a mellower flavor. This is a good thing.

When I first made gluten free tortillas, I did so by kneading the dough by hand. It turns out that the xanthan gum needs to be worked in order to develop its stretch, just like gluten. The worked xanthan gum results in a less ragged edge to the tortilla, as the dough stretches better while being rolled, so if you do it by hand, make sure to work the dough for a minute or two before using, or employ a food processor.

If you happen to have a tortilla press knocking around your kitchen, this device is particularly useful for making both tortillas, and pita breads. I find this recipe requires a slightly thinner dough round than if you were making the corn tortillas (because of the leavening agent), so I leave 4 pieces of cardboard cereal box in my press when I press the dough between the two pieces of parchment paper or freezer bag. For tortillas, the dough ball should be about the size of a regular hen’s egg; for pita bread, the dough ball should be about an inch in diameter.

And finally, a note on cooking: I find that my griddle gets hotter towards the end of the cooking time and turn the temperature down to low when I notice the cooking time speeding up. Don’t get intimidated by all the chit-chat, once you’ve found your own rhythm, these are quick and easy to make.

3 oz (~7/8 cup) quinoa flour
3 oz (~ 1 cup) garbanzo bean flour
3 oz (1/2 cup) potato or tapioca starch
2 tsps xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp Earth Balance margarine or oil
6 fl. oz (3/4 cup) cold water

Combine all of the ingredients except for the water in a small food processor (or by hand in a bowl, using a pastry wire helps if you’re using margarine). Process briefly to incorporate the fat.

Bean and Quinoa Tortillas Cooking

If you make the dough by hand, sprinkle the water over the flours, then bring together with your hands and knead the dough for a minute or two.

Otherwise: With the processor still running, slowly (~10 seconds) add the water.
Process for a minute in order to activate the xanthan gum.
Heat a cast iron pan or griddle to medium heat.
Cut the dough into 6 – 8 equal sized pieces, and in your hands, form into flattened balls.
Sprinkle the work surface with gluten-free flour (I used cheap white rice flour), then roll the dough ball into a round disk about ⅛ inch thick. (Or use the tortilla press as outlined above.)
Cook the tortillas one at a time on the cast iron pan until the top surface bubbles.
Turn over once the first side has some brown flecks on it. The tortilla should still be soft and moist.
Cook the second side until it too has slightly browned – about a minute.
Turn the tortilla out onto a plate covered with a clean kitchen towel (or paper towel); it will become softer and milder in flavor while it waits.
Repeat until all the dough has been used.
I use these wrapped around re-fried beans or salad, or as the bottom layer in Tofu Rancheros. At least, I do if I haven’t eaten them straight off the plate!

I make pita breads pretty much the same way I make tortillas. Use the same recipe for making the dough; roll it out a little thicker than for tortillas, and then use a 2″ cookie cutter to cut shapes out from the rolled dough. The smaller shape encourages the air bubbles that develop inside the pita during cooking to join together and make the traditional pocket.

The pita breads puff up during cooking which makes the traditional pocket. They flatten out again once off the griddle.

Gluten Free Flour Tortillas

Pliant, delicious tortilla

In general, I’m not so keen on citing pre-made mixes in recipes, because companies go out of business, they don’t necessarily sell their product everywhere, and sometimes the nutritional value is questionable. However, I made an exception with this recipe (for now) because these tortillas really are very good, hot or cold. Later I will figure out how to replace the flour mixture with my own mix of flours. Later, later ……

The tortillas are pretty bland (which is a good thing here), and they are easy to cook. Make sure to cook them fairly quickly. If it takes you 10 minutes to cook each one, not only will you be hungry, but they will be stiff. By the time the pan is properly up to temperature, each side will take about 1 minute to cook. Makes 8 small tortillas, or 4 burrito size tortillas (but you do need a big frying pan for large tortillas.)

Since I first wrote this post, it has come to my notice that the tortillas come out better if the dough is blended by machine for a minute rather than by hand in order to develop the xanthan gum.

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
2 tsps xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegan margarine (e.g. Earth Balance) or oil
3/4 cup (6 fl. oz) cold water

By hand:

Preheat a cast iron pan or griddle to medium heat.

Using oil rather than margarine makes this a quicker recipe.
Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or butter knife until a soft dough is produced. Add a little more flour if necessary to stop it from being too sticky. However, a damp dough makes a softer, better, tortilla!
Kneed the dough for a minute to develop the xanthan gum (by hand or with the spoon/knife).
Cut the dough into 8 (or 4) equal sized pieces, and form into flattened balls.
Sprinkle the work surface with gluten-free flour, then roll the dough ball into a round disk about ⅛ inch thick.
Cook the tortillas one at a time on the cast iron pan until the top surface bubbles (about 1 minute once your pan is at the correct temperature).
Turn over once the first side has some brown flecks on it.
Cook the second side until it too has slightly browned.
Turn the tortilla out onto a plate covered with a clean kitchen towel (or paper towel); it will become softer while it waits.
Serve as a wrap, or quesadilla with faux cheez, or burrito covering.

By machine:

Preheat a cast iron pan or griddle to medium heat.

Combine all of the dry ingredients and margarine or oil in a small food processor.
Add the warm water slowly with the processor running, starting with 1/2 cup and then check the consistency.
Continue to add water until a soft, cohesive, slightly sticky dough is formed.
Cut the dough into 8 (or 4) equal sized pieces, and form into flattened balls.
Sprinkle the work surface with gluten-free flour, then roll the dough ball into a round disk about ⅛ inch thick.
Cook the tortillas one at a time on the cast iron pan until the top surface bubbles.

Bubbles forming on 1/2 cooked tortilla.

Turn over once the first side has some brown flecks on it.
Cook the second side until it too has slightly browned – about a minute once the pan is up to temperature.
Turn the tortilla out onto a plate covered with a clean kitchen towel (or paper towel); it will become softer while it waits.
Serve as a wrap, or quesadilla with faux cheez, or burrito covering.

Amaranth Tortillas

Recipe reviewed and updated Jul 8, 2013

This recipe makes a soft workable dough, and the resultant tortilla is soft and pliant, with a mild taste (not very unlike wheat flour), but not bland (like rice flour).
I actually made a variety of mixes before deciding to stick with this one. One of them used amaranth flour in place of all the flours (amaranth, cornflour, tapioca starch) to see if a more simple recipe could be used. The resultant tortillas were fine in their own right, but my husband (who tries to keep me anchored in what constitutes ‘real’ food) pointed out they were too highly flavored to be tortillas. If you decide that you have cause to use tortillas with a nutty hint (and improved nutritional value!!!), then do try these with just amaranth flour.

To shape tortillas, you can either use a tortilla press, or roll them out by hand. In either case, roll a small egg sized amount of dough in your hands to make a smooth, flattened ball, first.

If you roll the tortilla by hand, make sure that you either use plenty of additional gluten free flour to dust the work surface and rolling pin to avoid sticking, or roll the dough ball between the two sides of a freezer bag that has been slit down the sides.

If you use a tortilla press, you need to use a slit freezer bag or a folded piece of parchment paper, and because the mixture contains baking powder (unlike corn tortillas), the tortillas will cook up too thick unless you press them with 2 – 4 layers of cardboard (from a cereal package or similar) inside the press, too. Once pressed, peel one side of the bag off the tortilla, then flip it on to your hand, and peel the other side of the bag off before placing the tortilla on the hot griddle. Note that the tortilla’s taste mellows after it has had a few minutes to sit after coming off the griddle. I store mine on a plate between two pieces of kitchen paper to keep them pliant, while I finish cooking all the tortillas.

1 cup (4 oz) amaranth flour
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) fine ground cornflour (not starch)
1/2 cup (1  3/4 oz) tapioca starch
1 tsps xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp margarine or oil
3/4 cup (6 fl oz) cold water

In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and then rub in the margarine (either by hand or using a pastry wire).

Add the water and stir with a knife, before gathering up with your hands and kneading the dough for a minute to bring it together and develop the xanthan gum.

Divide the dough into 8 – 10 equal sized pieces, and form into balls.

Using a rolling pin or a tortilla press, form the tortillas (see above for directions) which should be about 6-8″ in diameter, and 1/8″ thick.

Pre-heat an un-greased cast iron griddle or shallow, heavy based frying pan over medium heat.

Cook a tortilla on the griddle until brown spots start to appear on the bottom. Flip and cook until the second side also has brown spots. (1-3 minutes each side).

Repeat with all the balls, storing them between 2 sheets of kitchen paper (to keep them moist) until you are done.