Today’s packed recipe is a combination of East African Chapati with beef stew. This is one of my favorite dinners to make because these elements freeze incredibly well. And, of course, they are loaded with savory flavors! That means you can simply store any leftovers for a future dinner!
About This East African Chapati Recipe
This is a two-part recipe. You can make one or the other first, it doesn’t really matter. I’d recommend making the stew first. Then, you can make the chapati while the stew is cooking.
Chapati is a popular type of flatbread that is known for its tender and soft flaky texture. It is a delicious side dish for stews, soups, and even dipping sauces.
Making this beautiful unleavened flatbread from scratch requires very specific steps and some patience. It’s a lot of work to make but it is super worth it!
Today, I will show you three chapati recipes. They are all the same, but the biggest difference is the liquid you use. We will make plain chapati, chili chapati, and spinach chapati.
Then, when it comes to the beef stew part of the East African chapati recipe, I felt inspired by flavors commonly used in Kenyan cuisine.
This stew is incredibly easy to make and hands-off. There are a couple of steps that help you develop the best meaty flavor. But, if you are feeling lazy, simply toss everything together and allow the beef to cook.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The ingredients for this flaky chapati recipe are quite simple. The best part is that you likely already have most of these staples in your pantry.
- Flour: I used all-purpose flour and wheat flour for this recipe. You can use store-bought chapati flour or even whole wheat flour if you’d like.
- Salt: This adds flavor to the dough and also helps it rise a bit when heated in the skillet.
- Oil: I used olive oil for this recipe, but you can use any oil you prefer.
- Sugar: A bit of sugar helps sweeten the chapati bread. You can use white or brown sugar, whichever you prefer but keep in mind that brown sugar will add a hint of molasses flavor.
- Water: For a more traditional flavor, I used hot water for this recipe. If you prefer, cold water can also be used.If you prefer, cold water can also be used. You can also use buttermilk or milk for softer chapati.
Tips For Making Authentic Chapati
- Don’t add too much water to the dough from the get-go. It could create a sticky mess.
- While kneading the chapati dough, you may need to add more flour to the surface to prevent it from sticking. This simultaneously helps you get a perfect consistency while developing the stretchy gluten you need.
- You have to rest your dough. This helps the gluten strands relax and develop. This step ultimately helps you create a soft flatbread. It is key when making chapati.
- To keep the chapati from drying out while you are working with the others, keep them underneath a slightly damp towel or plastic wrap.
Chapati Recipe Variations
There are many variations to make this best Chapati recipe. Here are a few of them:
- Whole wheat chapatis: Instead of using all-purpose flour, you can use whole wheat flour for a healthier version.
- Add spices: You can add your favorite spices to the dough for extra flavor. Some popular options include cumin, coriander, and cardamom.
- Stuffed chapatis: Stuff the chapatis with cooked vegetables or meats for a filling meal.
- Add herbs: Sprinkle some herbs on top of the chapati before you cook it in order to add more flavor. Parsley, basil, and oregano are all good options.
- Make chapati brown faster: If you want your flaky chapatis to become crispy and brown a bit faster, brush some butter on top before cooking. This will help it cook more quickly. But be careful not to burn it!
- You can also use other types of flour such as rye, spelt, buckwheat, or oat. Experiment and find what works best for this beautiful unleavened flat bread!
Tips For The Kenyan Beef Stew
- All of the seasonings in this East African chapati recipe are adjustable. You can alter its spiciness too.
- There isn’t a set-in-stone cooking time for the beef stew. It will take at least 1 hour to cook and tenderize the beef cubes. However, if you want it to be extremely soft and melt in your mouth, you can leave it for much longer.
Side Dishes to Serve
Apart from the beef stew, you can also serve the Chapati with a variety of different side dishes. I would like to share some of my personal favorites:
- Sauteed vegetables: Add your favorite vegetables to a saute pan and cook until they are tender. Season them with salt, pepper, and herbs for extra flavor.
- Sukuma Wiki: This is a traditional East African dish made from collard greens, onions, and tomatoes.
- Beans or green grams: Cook some beans or green grams in a pot with water and spices until they are soft. If you like bean stew, this is a great dish to serve with Chapatis.
How to Store and Reheat
Room: Once you have cooked your East African Chapati, it’s best eaten fresh. But if you want to consume them for later, wrap them in foil or parchment paper and store them at room temperature. They will stay fresh for up to 2 days this way.
Fridge: The cooked chapati can also be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Make sure they are tightly wrapped in foil or parchment paper first.
Freezer: Freeze the Chapatis for up to a month. Wrap them tightly and place them in an airtight container or freezer bag before putting them inside your freezer.
Reheat: When you are ready to eat, simply reheat in the oven or microwave until it is warmed through. This should only take a few minutes. Or use a skillet and heat the chapati on both sides until it is heated through.
Chapati is a dish that was influenced by Indian immigrants who came to East Africa. It is now considered a staple in East African cuisine but essentially consists of the same ingredients as the Indian Chapati.
Yes, you can use whole wheat flour for this recipe. However, the Chapatis may have a slightly different consistency.
Yes, you can make the Chapati dough ahead of time. Store it in a zip-top bag or an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.
Yes, you can make gluten-free Chapatis. Just use a gluten-free flour blend to make the dough.
East African Chapati With Beef Stew Recipe
For the plain chapati
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, optional
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup warm water
For spinach chapati
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 3/4 cup warm water
For chili chapati
- 3 chopped chillies
- 3/4 cup warm water
For the Kenyan beef stew
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 pounds beef stew (like sirloin steak tips), cubed into bite-sized pieces
- 2 medium onions, cut into large chunks
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded, minced, optional
- 2 tsp curry powder (of your choice)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 4 tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup tomato puree (not paste or sauce)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, picked (leaves only)
- 3-4 cups low-sodium beef stock
- 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 2 cups fresh peas
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Sea salt flakes, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Make the chapati dough
- To start, combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix them well so they are evenly distributed.
- Next, add the olive oil. Mix it in very well using a wooden spoon.
- If you are making a flavored dough, you should blend together the flavoring ingredients now.
- Once they are blended, the flavored liquid substitutes the 1 cup of water in the original plain recipe.
- So, in other words, if you are making plain chapatis, you will add 1 cup of warm water. If you are making spinach chapati, add the blended mixture of baby spinach and 3/4 cup warm water. And, if you are making chili chapati, add the blended mixture of chilies and 3/4 cup of warm water.
- Add the liquids slowly while mixing them into the dry ingredient and oil mixture until it forms a soft and sticky dough.
- Once the dough comes together, remove it from the bowl and knead it on a lightly floured surface. The dough should be elastic and string back when you push it with your finger. The kneading will take roughly 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough between 4-6 pieces. Then, cover it with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Shape the chapati
- Using a rolling pin, roll out one dough ball on a lightly floured surface.
- Then, roll the flat disc into a roll starting from one end.
- This roll can then be slightly flattened. Grab one end of the "log" and start rolling it inwards. Keep twisting it around itself so it ultimately creates another disc-shaped ball. Tuck the outer end piece into the center.
- Finally, roll this ball into a flat round sheet again. Each sheet should only be 1 to 2 millimeters thick. This is a very thin flatbread with many layers.
- Repeat the whole process until all your chapati has been shaped and rolled.
Cook your chapati
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Add one chapati at a time. Do not add butter or oil to the frying pan.
- Leave the chapati to cook for about a minute or two on one side. The chapati will start becoming a beautiful golden brown.
- Flip it over and continue cooking and browning the other side.
- Finally, while the chapati is still warm, add a dollop of butter and brush it over the entire surface.
- Remove the chapati from the heat. Either keep it warm in a low-temperature oven or allow it to cool.
- Repeat the process until all your chapati pieces have been cooked.
Make the Kenyan beef stew
- Heat the olive oil over high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the cubed beef and allow it to brown on all sides. Once browned, remove and set it aside.
- Using the same pot, add more oil if you need to. Then, add the onion chunks and celery stalks. Allow them to saute over medium heat for 2 minutes or until they become translucent.
- Next, add the minced garlic and chili peppers. Let them fry for a minute.
- Then, add the curry powder, smoked paprika, and ground white pepper. Let them fry for 30 seconds while stirring them well.
- Next, add the browned beef back into the pot. Also add the diced tomatoes, tomato puree, thyme, and 3 cups of beef stock.
- Bring the stew to a rolling boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, lower the heat and leave the stew to simmer for roughly 1 hour.
- If your beef is completely cooked, you can add the sliced red bell pepper and peas. Allow them to cook for another 5 minutes.
- When the beef is tender and completely cooked through, stir in the chopped parsley and season the beef stew with salt and pepper.
- You can serve the stew with chapati and more fresh parsley garnishes.