How to make Chapatis the Tanzanian way

Selous Safari Company
September 30, 2020

Every traveller to Tanzania will most probably fall in love with the taste of Chapati. This deliciously soft flat-bread is a staple food in Tanzania and in many other East African countries.

This versatile dish can be paired with a variety of savoury or sweet fillings, but on Fanjove Island we enjoy serving them to our guests with a traditional East African curry.

Below is our Fanjove Island Chef, Issa’s, famous Chapati recipe.

The following recipe will make between 8 and 12 Chapatis.


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or oil
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water

Instructions :

  • In a large bowl add flour and make a well. Add the sugar and salt, followed by water, ghee or oil
  • Knead to form a soft and sticky dough.
  • Place dough on a heavily floured board and knead for about 8 to 14 minutes. Continue to flour dough as needed to facilitate kneading. Be careful not to overdo it. The dough should be soft, elastic and smooth.
  • Divide the dough into 6 or 8 pieces according to preference and let it rest. The resting of the dough helps to relax the gluten and make it not only easier to work with but also produces tender chapati.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll out dough into a circle. They don’t need to be perfect circles.
  • At this stage you may proceed to cooking them.

However, if you want chapatis with layers you need to do the next steps.

  • Lightly oil chapati dough with ghee. Be gentle with the oil.
  • Then place dough on a heavily floured plate and press the dough down.
  • Turn dough over and press down. Lightly shake off excess flour.
  • Shape dough like you would shape a paper fan - starting at one end, all the way to the opposite end.
  • Then coil it up like a pinwheel.
  • When all the dough has been coiled up, cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  • Gently flatten out coiled dough and roll out. Begin rolling out the dough from the center working outwards.
  • Rotate the dough out each time you roll it. This helps to make a perfect circle. Make sure they are not rolled out too thin. Chapatis are not meant to be too thin - 1/4 inch dough thickness is good.
  • Oil pan. Then place dough in the pan.
  • Heavily oil the other side of the dough making sure you oil the edges too.
  • Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, rotating as needed until golden brown.
  • Serve warm.

You can follow Fanjove Island Chef, Issa along in the video below as he shows us how to make Chapatis the Tanzanian way.

latest posts
In this part of the world we don’t really talk about seasons. Instead of distinct Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn seasonality, game viewing in the south of Tanzania revolves around rainfall.
Continue reading
Snakes are often not high up on our guest’ list of animals they would like to encounter on safari. The reality is snakes are often misunderstood and therefore unappreciated. Unfortunately many snake species have become threatened and while snakes may not be the most popular reptile in the world, have you ever wondered why they play a critical role in the ecosystem?
Continue reading
A brand new safari season has arrived and we are thrilled to announce our bush camps Siwandu and Jongomero are open. After the long rains in Tanzania, the bush looks spectacularly lush and green. Our lakes and rivers are filled to the brim, the wildlife are all looking well-fed and healthy.
Continue reading