When I publicized our post on grilled chapati in George Town, Penang yesterday on Twitter one knowledgeable Indian food lover remarked that "if they tried that in India they'd be deported." (Loose quote.) But this morning on the EatingAsia Facebook page I found another Indian had weighed in: "In north India the chapati is commonly griddled and then grilled on the fire but without this contraption." (By "contraption" I assume he means the metal grill that's placed over the flames.)
This discussion inspired Dave to sift through photographs he made a few years ago in New Delhi, when he stopped over on his way to Malaysia from a photography workshop in Manali. (I, regrettably, did not join Dave on this trip. Judging by the photos here and his images and commentary here, he ate very well.)
What he found was this: proof that in New Delhi at least, chapati can be found grilled, sort of. Here we have a wood-fired portable stove with a small griddle pan on top. The guy on the right rolls out the chapati on a wooden board. They're cooked on the griddle and then removed with tongs and held directly to the flame. No "contraption" involved but, I imagine, the result is a lovely flatbrad infused with plenty of woody smokiness. (Just looking at those thick fresh chapati makes me hungry.)
Seems like the chapati makers in our previous George Town post brought a penchant for grilling flatbreads with them to Penang and adapted their method to a charcoal brazier.
All this talk of chapati has incited an unbearable craving so now, in honor of chapati makers in India, Malaysia and anywhere else, we're jettisoning all hopes of a productive afternoon and heading into George Town for lunch: chapati.