East African Chapati Recipe

One of the best things on visits to East Africa (besides the people) is the chapati. It’s delicious, and you can find it everywhere. If you ask a local how to make it, they’ll tell you, but it will sound something like this…

Mix some flour with water and a little salt until it feels right. If it doesn’t feel right, then add more flour or water. Then let it rest until it feels right and then cook it in the pan.

Every time you ask how much flour or water or salt, you get a blank look, because everyone just knows how to make it like it’s a part of their DNA. It’s awesome. We did manage to ask a friend in Kenya who asked someone who makes it professionally to give a detailed synopsis, so we could share with all of you.


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Using your hands or mixer, mix until everything comes together.
  2. Add water in bits with one hand as the other hand continuously combines it with the flour mixture. Continue until most of the dough is sticky and then stop.
  3. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10-15 minutes until the dough is firm. If the dough is sticky, alternate between sprinkling flour and applying the oil to your hands. The oil will help the dough from sticking. Continue until the dough is smooth and you can knead it without it sticking to your hands or the surface. (Tip: To see if the dough is ready, put your finger all the way through the dough until you touch the bottom and take it out. If it comes out clean or with very minimal dough on your finger, then it’s ready.)
  4. Place the dough in a bowl. Cover it, and let it rest for one hour.
  5. After an hour, cut dough into equal balls and place on a floured surface.
  6. Roll out the dough until you achieve a diameter of about 16 cm. Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil and spread in pan. Cook chapati in pan until lightly browned on both sides.

This is a great thing to make with the kids! Cook these and serve them up with some chicken and veggies or look up an East African meal to make at home!

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