Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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As ghee pervades all milk,
So does the Lord pervade the creation.
Many the talkers,
many the listeners to this theme;
But few are those who act
and churn the body
To get the all-pervading Lord.
Indian Skillet Bread
Churning butter, detail from 10th/16th century Persian dictionary. Click for larger image.
Total time: 3-3-½ hours
Dough preparation: ½ hour
Rising: 2 hours
Cooking: 1-1-½ hours
6 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour
  or ½/½ whole wheat /all purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1-¾cups warm water,
  plus more as needed
1 cup, melted ghee or clarified butter

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Sprinkle in the oil and rub it into the flour with your hands. Make a well in the center of the flour, pour in the water, and mix together by hand until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 15 minutes. Clean out the mixing bowl, butter it lightly, and return the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel and let the dough rest for 2 hours.

Divide the dough into 36 pieces, then work with only 3 pieces at a time — the chapatis should not dry out before cooking. With lightly floured hands, roll each piece into a ball, flatten slightly, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into evenly flat 6" rounds. Roll out two more chapatis, then begin to cook.

Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat, then place a chapati on the griddle. Cook for 30 seconds, then flip it over, cook for another 30 seconds and flip again. The chapati should puff up and become freckled. When this occurs, remove it from the griddle to a towel-lined basket, brush lightly with ghee or clarified butter, and cover to keep warm. Stack the breads on top of each other. When the first three are done, reduce the heat under the griddle and roll out the next 3 chapatis; then turn up the heat and cook them. Continue rolling and cooking, rolling and cooking, until the dough is gone.

If possible, allow two people for chapati making — one to roll and one to cook the chapatis. They should be the last thing prepared for an Indian meal so that they can be served hot. Makes 24-36 breads.