Saturday, 4 January 2014

Disasters, Large and Small

I suppose my little run of bad luck began when I attempted to make masala crackers by relying on my visual memory.  The number 200 stood out for the oven temperature, but my analytical side failed to wonder whether that was 200 C or 200 F. 

The result was beautifully flavoured bits of leathery cardboard.  Oh well, I’ve since sorted how to transfer those flavours into flakey, buttery morsels of goodness by making them again, at the right temperature, with an improved strategy.

But for months I’d been dreaming of making the absolute, perfect chapatti, made possible by a portable induction cooker.  Apparently their temperature settings can be fine tuned, so when I came across one for a great price, I convinced Husband Person to make it my Christmas present.

On Christmas day I noted the manual's advice:  practice for several hours by boiling water at various settings.  Um, I needed it immediately to fry Brussel sprouts in ghee, onion and red pepper, and it worked just fine for that.  I skimmed the manual, and left the study of the finer points to Husband Person.  Since candles come with a full page of directions, and a new electric kettle comes with a multi-paged brochure, I’ve become cynical.  I asked him if the manual disclosed anything tricky. He shrugged.  I pitched it into the recycling.  
portable induction cooktop
Scorched the pan too!

Finally the day came for chapattis.  These flat breads require steady, medium high heat.  The first few scorched black in three seconds.  I cranked the temperature down.  It galloped from 400 down to 300, but they scorched black again in as many seconds.  I cranked the temp down further.  They sat like pale disks, unmoved by heat.  The readout suddenly said E7. I hit the internet. 

My model has since been disowned by its maker.  There’s no mention it ever existed at the company’s website.  However, Amazon has a review that also explains how the machine works, or fails to.  E7 is a bad, bad message, but I remained hopeful because I learned about adjusting the wattage before adjusting the temperature. (Same icon, different steps.)  Going back to the machine with a better understanding of its extremely tricky procedures, I started again, only to scorch a few more chapattis then watch as the next disks sat lamely warming on the pan, the readout glumly reporting E7, even though I had greatly reduced the wattage. 
This needed scraping, scouring with steel wool, and re-seasoning.

Underbaking chapattis for prolonged lengths of time creates tree decorations that not even the magpies or squirrels tolerate.  They may be there for months to come, till the rains melt them away.

Have I ever mentioned the time the neighbor kids curried my dogs?  They fed them serving after serving of the hottest curry their parents had asked me to make for adult guests at the party.  The dogs reported to the family room where they curried the rug every day for at least a week.  Do you know how hard it is to get turmeric out of beige broadloom?  At least the chapattis can’t do any harm…

The machine has since been returned to the store, and I’m hunting for one that works. Advice anyone?

But will they hold up when the rains begin?


  1. The issue is not only with your machine but also with the Tawa. The griddle you are using isn't conducive for making chapattis as its not smooth and is a little groovy. I had purchased the same Tawa as its quite cheap on amazon on the notion that its cast iron. Even if you have a gas stove this Tawa will not be able to make any kind of chapati that will turn out the way you want it to.

    My suggestion is get a different tawa. Non Stick perhaps as it will be easier. And make sure that the tawa will work with the cooker you buy as different cookers have different compatibilities.

    But all in all you will never make a chapati turn out good on this tawa.

  2. Bhagwant, thank you for your advice. You're right, it doesn't have a smooth surface, but I think that's because it's still not seasoned properly. It has rough spots, but no grooves, actually. I have a non-stick tawa, and use an electric stove. Alas, I have never made a perfect chapati on that either. My definition of perfect is round, and puffing up like a poori, while it's cooking. Soft and tasty too. I can get soft and tasty, round too, but never the right kind of puffing.

    Thank you again for your comments.