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.