We love chapatis, but eating with chapatis can be a daunting task if you have not grown up eating with them and it took me a bit of time to get used to it. I remember when I met Hubby and started learning more about Indian food, I had no clue about what to do with the accompanying Indian bread that comes with the meal. The bread served with an Indian meal, either naan (yeast risen bread) or chapatis (whole wheat flat breads), are actually used as utensils and a spoon is sometimes only used once the bread has run out.
I used to eat an Indian meal as if I was having soup with a side of bread – eating spoonfuls of the main dish and taking separate bites of the chapati. After watching Hubby eat, I bravely attempted the real way but squeezed all the food out of the chapati by pressing too hard and ended up not getting any kind of a decent bite. The most entertaining was when I wrapped up the food in the chapati and tried to eat it like a burrito.
After a lot of trial and error I finally learned how to eat properly with chapatis. I remember back in college Hubby took me to an Indian Students Association banquet and when I sat down and began eating my meal, one of the Indian girls turned to me and said “you’re the first American we’ve seen eat Indian food with such finesse”, referring to how I knew to eat correctly with my chapatis.
I thought a lesson might be welcome on how to eat with your chapatis. Using only one hand, Hubby can tear his chapati, fold it into a scoop and take a good sized bite without ever getting his fingers dirty. I’m not quite at this level yet, but I do know how to eat with my hands.
So let’s learn how to use the Indian bread as a utensil, rather than an accompaniment. I’m going to use chapatis as an example since this is what we have on a daily basis, but this applies to any type of Indian bread you have with your meal.
There are two methods to chapati use. The dry food method and the wet food method.
For dry foods: If the food is dry or more solid
First, tear off a bite size of the chapati.
Now just pinch up a bite size of the food. With practice you will learn how to get a good grip and how to keep your fingers cleaner. But in the beginning, make a mess, it’s fine. Especially if you’re making your chaptis at home and not in a restaurant (as I hope you are attempting) then it’s a bit safer to make a mess.
For wet food with a curry or soupy daals, you need to scoop up the food as trying to pinch it will not work.
I usually tear of a double bite size for scooping because the folding makes it smaller.
Fold a corner down using your index finger and pinch up the sides of the piece with your thumb and middle finger. Hold your thumb, index and middle finger tight, pinching the chapati to form a triangle-scoop.
…and scoop up the meal.
Simple right? Well, you’ll get the hang of it with practice and you will surely impress all your friends by your chapati eating know-how.
Learn to make your own chapatis at home: Chapatis – Indian whole wheat flat breads.