It’s a version of flat-bread that originated in the Indian Subcontinent and was brought to East Africa by trade. The African-ized version of chapatis are special, a treat that’s different from the normal ugali cornmeal staple eaten at most meals. A chapati is often accompanied by beans, cooked green vegetables, or else just wadded up plain with a cup of chai (tea).
Driving through Morogoro, Tanzania, I stopped for a quick break to grab a cup of chai. Mama Chapati was sitting at the base of a pharmacy cooking her chapatis, a giant syringe painted on the wall behind her.
The aroma of the sizzling chapatis on the skillet was irresistible (fresh things like this are meant to be eaten immediately).
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East African chapatis are made with a flour dough that is delicately coiled into a ball. When the chapati is rolled out, the coil makes the chapati flaky from within. It is then fried on a heavy iron pan, roasting slowly over a light bed of charcoal.
When the chapati is nearly finished cooking, a ladle of of oil is sprinkled around the edges of the pan, crispy-fying the outer layer and giving it that truly African touch.
If cooked right, the result of an African chapati is characterized by a flaky moist interior and a crispy browned outer shell.
Mama Chapati made them flawlessly.
Throughout the mid-morning, people came to the pharmacy, not to buy drugs, but to get a famous chapati for takeaway.
I bid farewell, expressed my gratitude for the deliciousness, and returned back to the road heading towards Dar es Salaam.