Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chapatti-nomics



I am an expert at making chapattis. And my husband loves to tuck in freshly made hot chapattis with curry by the dozen. It is however, a lot of hard work to produce the version that our in-house-aficionado devours – one that virtually melts in your mouth.

It starts with choosing the right flour, the right proportion of water, at the right temperature and a fair amount of time spent kneading the dough. Then making the dough balls is easy, but rolling the pin to flatten the bread and baking it to get the balloon-effect requires some skill.

Overtime, my husband and I have developed a neat division-of-labour arrangement when it comes to chapatti production. I would choose the flour, oversee the mixing, he would then make a mini-workout of the whole kneading process and finally I would come back to roll the pin and make it hot.

By way of what I call the muscular-arm and skillful-hand partnership, all was well in our tiny bakery. Okay, that was only until our little one popped-out. With lesser time on hand and frequent interruptions, we were now using Smera’s sleep-time to carry on our family tradition.

One evening when we were both tired, hungry and on the ritual, Saju asked a very profound question. “What is the economic cost of making chapattis yourself?”  Before I could utter a word, he sputtered out an impressive mathematical equation.

I do not remember the exact numbers but it included the cost of the flour, water, salt, wear and tear of the rolling pin and kilo watts of electricity used. He then paused for a bit and asked me for an estimate of the most valuable ingredient, our time.

While I was trying to make sense on where the whole conversation is headed, he said “Let’s use the time cost of our part-time help” After a moment of what appeared to be an exercise in mental mathematics, he came up with a number of two-dirham and fifty-fills.

“Two-dirham and fifty-fills, that’s how much each of our chapattis cost” he said with a stoic-face. Faced with the prospect of heavy-duty-math standing between me and my dinner, I said that it made sense hoping he’ll forget about it after a good nights rest.

Alas, we were soon researching our in-house chapatti replacement options. Those who made it to the short-list were the ones from the open-food counter at Lulu, the wafer thin kind from Saravana, heat-and-eat version from Chiotrams and the tawa-parata from Bombay Tadka.

Of all the options, Tawa-parata from Bombay Tadka (BT) stood out for couple of reasons. It was made of whole wheat flour (atta) and it was at least twice as big as what we would normally make. It costed us three dirhams a piece and it was right next to the place where we would do our weekly grocery shopping.

Now, even I can figure out that is a good deal. And thus we started another family tradition – weekly shopping of chapattis by the dozen. It straight goes into our freezer and gets a microwave treatment just before dinner. It sure doesn’t taste nearly as good as our in-house version but all things considered, it is a steal.

The reason why I started writing this post is because of a recent development in our chapatti strategy. Last weekend when we called BT to place our regular take-away order, no one answered the call. Thinking they must be super busy serving the hungry, we walked in there, only to find out that they have shut the shop.

Looks like someone got their math wrong.

78 comments:

  1. LOL..me and the husband were a fan of one such Indian restaurant here, they made yumm fish curry for $9 a bowl which could be eaten by 4 people...after a few months it was shut down...no wonder...and we also get these kawan frozen chapttis, coz we feel like they cost less than buying atta n making it at home...but they're not really tasty..figures!

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    1. Nice one, Rads - Sounds like chapattinomics is a global phenomenon !!

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  2. LOL... I love chapatti and would eat as many as i can when my mum makes it.but getting from outside and the one's ur loved ones make are completely different :D

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    1. I agree Gopinath, nothing to beat mum-made. The ones from outside will never be a match for the mum's as they will miss the most important ingredient....love :)

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  3. A brief History on ChapathiNOMICS :D:P
    Tastes good :D

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  4. lol! Awesome post :D. Made me hungry ;).
    I'm gonna go ask my mom to make me Chapathi :D.

    BTW, what will you do now jhi? The shop is closed. Will you start making Chapathi's again? :D

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    1. That's a million dollar question, P.P. Currently trending high on our dinner table conversations. For now, I went and bought some Dosa-batter as emergency relief....

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  5. I don't like chapatis (:P) but this was phenomenal! :)

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  6. lol...I guess your husband is a mathematician... :P

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    1. Thanks Cynosure...Among a numerous other things,he is also good at maths :)

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  7. what a good writer you are.. "Little one popped out" :D :D

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    1. Thanks,Raja - Super thrilled by your compliment !

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  8. The blog reminds me of the strategy we work out at home. My wife does the kneading, and I help her with the rolling, she does the cooking. But many times I'm not able to do my part and she takes it over without any complaint. Great economics, I think.

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    1. Great economics indeed, Matheikal. I think chapatti making is a wonderful team-sport ....:)

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  9. Haha.. Guess someone has to go back to the home tradition!

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    1. Exactly, Prerna. I am so looking forward to it....not ! :)

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  10. Hope they open up soon for your convenience. It is hard life with a baby and chapati making.

    Wonderful post, simple and sweet.

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    1. Thanks Vetrimagal. I hope so too... and that this time they hire a better economist :)

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  11. It is a funny post which progresses to a downbeat moment. The art and maths of chappati production have been well captured. Sudden closures of favourite food outlets are disappopintingly bitter, especially when they leave you optionless. Time to return the tawa, indeed!

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    1. I love your summary and the usage 'art and maths of chapatti production' ...Thanks for stopping by, Umashankar

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  12. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post :-) Even for me, The Chappathi comes in all weird shapes!

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    1. Thank you so much, Ashwini. Thankfully with practise I have moved from amoebic shapes to more geometric shapes like a circle, square and triangles..:)

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  13. I enjoyed reading this post...but still I think that home-made rotis are more fresh and healthy ...

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    1. You bet they are more healthy, Seema. Also making them can be a great exercise routine too - very healthy then ! :)

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  14. LOL! That was awesomely Chapattinomical!!! :) Reminds me how mom ,dad and me used to buy take aways of kuboos!! :) We were one family going gaga over it in Kuwait and now in Qatar lol! :)

    Now that the shop is closed,back to chapatti making? Develop a new strategy ;)

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    1. Thanks Jen. We should form a Gulf Chappatinomical and Kuboosinomics Society (GCKS) !

      On the strategy bit, it is high on our dinner table agenda. As a stop-gap, I went and bought some Dosa-batter as emergency relief....

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  15. lol..its global phenomenon..my hubby tried to convince me to tke this path of forzen chapattis... But I have managed to hold my fort and make fresh chappatis everyday...(I do stored Kawan's Chapptis in freezer for emergency times)

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    1. Well done, Akshaya in resisting the temptation to go the easy route - nothing taste like freshly made ones...

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  16. liked the post but i still believe nothing beat the home made chappathis and its economics!!!

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    1. Absolutely, Rahul. You can't beat home made chapattis or chapattinomics as my regular store realised...albeit a bit late..

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  17. Oops so the math took a beating now, what's the next plan? Back to home made chapattis or Lulu?

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    1. For now, I have secured some dosa-batter but Lulu is definitely an option.. Thanks, Arnab

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  18. I loved chapatis before but not now ..after a long tour of north india i stopped eating chapathi ... :((.Bad experience

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    1. Anything taken in excess could have a similar effect ... for me rice does the same ...

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  19. That was some economics around chapati:) A nice read!

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  20. he he. lovely post. we carry on the tradition thou, with the kid and all, can't fathom the bought ones :)

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    1. Your right !! The little one has just started enjoying eating chapatti .. today was palak chapatti :D

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  21. chapatti "production"" - heheh it sure is! and girl, the kneading bit is the most critical/difficult one and that is done by your husband. wow! lucky you! my lazy one only comes in for frying the last ball :D

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    1. Sujatha - I am still thanking my stars to have found the perfect Mr. Muscle

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  22. Hey Nice post

    It took me so many years of cooking to kind of getting close to mastering the art of chapathi making :) Being a South Indian its not a daily affair and hence lesser practice in making it perfect. Anyways I have reached a state when its not so bad after all!! When I was in the US as a single we used to buy chapathis from a Gujarati lady who used to sell from home. Our doubt was that she had a secret machine like the tortilla making machines in mexican eateries....Coz irrespective of the size of the order she used to meet it with minimal notice!!! :)

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    1. Thanks Jaish .. but for now it's back to the tawa .. wonder if that Gujarati lady stays in Dubai though ??

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  23. he he he I like the picture nice and round ..
    Mine come in any shape but round...

    i doubt if i will ever get it made, thank god for ASDA or other superstores where i can get perfect round chapattis :)

    Bikram's

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    1. Bikramjit - the credit goes to my hubby who is genius .. Thanks for stopping by .. :D

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  24. First time here..! Was hoping through your posts. You have a nice blog.

    We have moved to take out chapatti's since my pregnancy period.

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    1. Thanks Priya - we did the same too !! but now my little is almost 16 months and loves to sit in the kitchen and look at me cooking .. thank god for that ..

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  25. Hehe..but any day, home cooked food is the best, don't you think? :)

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    1. Absolutely !! especially when amma makes it :D

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  26. LOL... I think you can safely exclude the wear and tear of rolling pin. One hilarious take, loved loved loved it...:)

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    1. Thank you Saru .. I couldn't stop laughing reading your comment on wear and tear cost .. :)

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  27. chapattis..being the lazy me..always find them way too hard to make!!

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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    1. Sushmita - I would feel lazy to make them in summers which are just coming real soon ...

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  28. Aww, so sad that it closed down. Just when you thought you'd made the perfect strategy. Even I thought that was a wonderful way of decision-making, looking at the cost of each chapatti. :) Nice post, good read!

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  30. Hilarious! What a unique take, enjoyed reading it! And I am glad that someone got their math wrong so that now you guys are back yo 'your' tawa!! :)

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    1. Arti - yeah I am left with no choice .. with a heavy heart i return to the tawa!!

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  31. Haha... totally enjoyed reading this post... A very different read... u've kneaded the joy of home food and the ease of a take-out into one consistent dough here ;)

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    1. Pranita - your comment just made my day ...

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  32. LOL, it was fun to read it, and irrespective of the quality and cost of stuff one gets in shops, home cooked is the best :-)

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    1. Absolutely Santosh!! I had a quick peek at your blog ... wonderful pictures ..

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  33. excellent post
    its great that you share it

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  34. Very neat,stylish but simple blog.Amazing work Sangeetha.

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    1. Speak Ur Mind - thank you very much ... i had quick peek at your blog loved the post on - Some people are born to make a difference !!

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  35. An Award for one of my favorite Blogger http://sweetsomethingz.blogspot.in/2012/03/versatile-blogger.html :D :).

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  36. Nice post...I really enjoyed it!! :)

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  37. heh heh...like your chappatinomics!

    Wear and tear of rolling pin....hah hah

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    1. Thanks Varsha. Your comment made me smile and I am glad it made you laugh as well :)

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  38. Nice post sangeeta.....I have something for you on the given link. http://seewhatashishsays.blogspot.in

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  39. Good strategy adopted to avoid kneading the dough, but didn't last long. Loved your post.

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  40. Just stumbled upon your post…. nice read.. light and witty… couldn’t stop to leave a note when I realized you stay in Greens...we moved in to Greens recently and coming from Burdubai I keep looking for some malayali face in the mallu starved community. Hope to bump into you sometime

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