I’ve known Charles and David Howell of Offley Mill for some years and was most intrigued that a traditional watermill in Shropshire should specialise in chapatti flour rather than the more typical mix of flours. The Howell family has been milling since 1740 at one time owning several mills. Now at Offley Mill, in 1998 they decided to specialise in serving the Asian community in the Midlands with chapatti flour. Delivered directly to customers’ kitchens in 25kg sacks, this has kept them busy for almost 20 years.

We’ve wanted to be able to offer a British chapatti flour for some time and at last we have one. With a little help from my daughter’s artistic skills, David is now able to offer Offley Mill Chapatti flour in conveniently-sized bags. We’re very proud to have their artisan flour available through BakeryBits and hope you enjoy it.

Each bag has an easy to follow chapatti recipe on the back. This is another topic that Vanessa knows a lot about so here are her thoughts on them and a serving suggestion.

When I was about eleven, my mother who is an Italian chef decided to do a Guajarati vegetarian cooking class in Leicester. It was the early 80s at a time when my friends were all eating Smash, fish fingers, toad in the hole and arctic roll. Not me. I was subjected to Gujarati kadhi, dal and shrikhand (a simple and soothing Gujarati dessert made with curd). Dhokla, made of fermented rice and split chickpeas often served with green chutney or meethi chutney made from khajoor (Dates) and aamli (tamarind) often fried with mustard, cumin seeds, and curry leaves.

I lived in perpetual fear of my mother serving curry to my mates. I remember my friends pointedly refusing to eat in my house because my mum served weird food, and it smelled strange. I wasn’t thrilled, but my mother’s adventurous forays into Indian food influenced me for life. By the time I chose which degree to study, I decided which university based on the fact that there were more curry houses in Leicester than anywhere else in the UK. For three years I lived and breathed curry, living at the back of a Bengali restaurant, and hanging out with lots of Gujarati friends, eating curry for breakfast lunch and supper. So, as you can imagine I am totally thrilled that we now have a British chapatti flour range.

As it happened, yesterday my research assistant Amrita was with me, and when I mentioned that I was testing the flour her eyes lit up. She is from Bangalore, where I spent some time last year in bakeries, and before I knew it she was knocking up batches for lunch, with the chapatti rolling pin and boards I brought back from her hometown. It was so much fun.

Mixing Chapatti Flour Rolling Chapattis
Baking Chapattis on a baking stone Baking Chapattis on a gas flame

So we simply followed the instructions on the packet, and I took some videos and photos as a visual guide to how to roll them out. In India chapatti dough is made in the morning using wholegrain freshly milled stoneground flour. As the ambient temperature is often 30 – 35C there is a degree of natural fermentation through the day and by the time the dough is ready to be rolled out it has developed some lovely flavour. Of course in the UK we rarely get these temperatures, so if you would like a truly authentic flavour, then adding a tablespoon of recently refreshed starter (within 2 days) to your dough you will find that this has the same effect of flavouring the dough, making it more digestible and enabling more bioavailability of the micronutrients to you. Don’t worry if not, just remember to try and make the dough early in the morning or the night before with water about 33C and it will develop nicely.

Keep your chapatti dough to one side until you are ready to serve. They take just moments to bake so always make them just before you are going to eat. Bake on a very hot Welsh Baking Stone or if feeling brave, do as they do in India directly on a gas flame – with care! Serve them immediately brushed with butter.

Here is my vegan dal recipe, which will go perfectly with these chapattis, from Food for Thought.

Recipe: Vegan Dal


This dal recipe is the very first Indian dish I made when I went to university. I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I was determined to find out how to make dal, so I cycled to Shiva Shakti, a grocery store in on Belgrave Road in Leicester. Raj, the shop owner translated as an elderly customer delighted in talking me through the principles of dal and vegetarian curry. She was in her eighties and was a well-known and respected Guajarati cook. She put various ingredients in my basket, none of which had a word of English on them and I cycled home and made dal. I was so proud and I have been making it ever since. I have since been shown by Apar, a family friend from Nepal, how to use coconut oil and lemon in this recipe instead of ghee which makes it a vegan dish. It’s really simple to make, and makes a wonderful fragrant and filling vegan meal.


Melt the coconut oil in a large heavy pan then add the onions, sauté until lightly golden. Add the garam masala and zest, stir and cook for another minute. Add the lentils and the water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and cover, simmer until they are soft, checking for consistency and stirring to make sure they do not dry out (about 20 – 25 minutes). In the meantime, melt the coconut oil in a heavy pan and add the fennel, coriander and cumin seeds, and cook for about 2 minutes until the oil is fragrant. Set to one side. Once the dal is cooked, add the sugar and stir, then serve with the spiced coconut oil poured over the top, scattered with fresh coriander.

3–4 tbsp coconut oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp garam masala
Zest of one lime
Zest of one lemon
250g red lentils
750g water
1 tsp of sea salt
1 tbsp jagerty or dark brown sugar

1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds

A handful of fresh coriander

Vanessa Kimbell runs the Sourdough School, Northampton


featured products

Welsh Baking Stone | £34.80

Welsh Baking Stone made from steel for baking, griddling and barbecues. Use it to bake pizzas and bread in your oven, or crumpets on your hob, or seer steaks on your barbecue.

Wholemeal Chapatti flour | £2.10

Wholemeal Chapatti Flour, stoneground at Offley Mill by CD Howell & Son in Staffordshire using water-power.

Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

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