I’ve been having a curious desire to return from machine made to handmade. It all started from a realization with chapati dough. I had learned to make chapati dough by hand, using a traditional Indian dough pan. When the day came to make a new batch of dough, I dreaded it. The job was time consuming and tedious, mainly because the large pan was so shallow I wasn’t able to mix easily. Eventually I switched to the food processor and soon progressed to the electric mixer, complete with dough hook attachment.  These convenience machines made the once daunting task quick and easy, with hardly any effort on my part; until it came time for cleanup.  They may knead dough in record time, but every crevice and attachment had to be scrubbed.

I’ve since reverted back to making dough by hand and rather than using my Indian pan, I use my favorite large yellow mixing bowl. The bowl’s large, deep size allows me to mix quickly without flinging flour all over the sink and counter. Now, I can make a batch of dough in half the time it took the machine and that even includes clean up time. So if doing it myself is so much faster, what’s the draw towards using the machine? It’s the ‘no effort’ aspect which is so appealing, but was we’ve found out, rather deceptive.

To test whether or not making dough by hand was indeed faster than my machine, I pulled out my machine and my bowl and set the clock. I made a batch of dough using the mixer and immediately made another batch by hand. Which approach was faster? The results were surprising.

Using the machine was not only slower, it actually took more physical effort than mixing by hand. The dough would climb up the dough hook, so I had to keep watch and stop the machine to untangle the dough and turn it so it would knead evenly. I still had to stand over the mixer to add water. Once it was done I had to clean the bowl, the dough hook and the bits of the machine that got wet dough on it. All in all, it took ten frustrating minutes.

When I made dough by hand, I was done in three minutes and all I had to clean was a simple mixing bowl and my hands.

This revelation that technology doesn’t necessarily mean efficiency got me thinking,

Is it possible our technology actually gets in the way of getting things done faster?

Would washing and drying dishes by hand actually be more efficient than a dishwasher? Should cookie dough be stirred with a wooden spoon rather than my Kitchen Aid? Should I bother to find out?


Dear Reader,

Just this morning our microwave broke, so I had to reheat my chai and lunch on the stove.  I was forced to simplify some of the daily routines I take for granted.

Do you ever think of simplifying things in your daily life?  Perhaps removing some of the technology you use on a daily basis such as the dishwasher, microwave…even the computer…and seeing how you do?


Chapatis By Hand

Time needed: 5 minutes (including cleanup!)
This recipe makes enough for 12-15 chapatis (depending on the size).  If you need less it’s easy to divide the recipe, just be sensitive with how much water you use.  The dough should be soft, but not so soft and sticky that you cannot easily turn and knead the dough.


2 cups chapati flour (found at the Indian store) or whole wheat flour.
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons oil (or you can use ghee)


A large mixing bowl
An air-tight food container


In a large mixing bowl, slowly add the water to the flour, mixing continuously until you have a cohesive ball of dough.


Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the dough, coating it all over with oil and knead for a minute. The kneading will help make the dough easier to roll out later.


Lightly coat the dough with the remaining tablespoon of oil, coat only the surface of the dough to keep the wet dough from sticking, do not work the oil into the dough.  Transfer the dough to an air-tight food container and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Read my original post on how to make chapatis and for fun, how to eat with chapatis.

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