Food For Thought: Choori

Dive into the cultural, political, and personal significance of food

Person in thinking pose with a thought bubble overhead featuring a photo of choori
A sweet walk down memory lane. Illustration: Alyssa Umbal / The Peak

By: Ira Rishi, SFU Student

As someone who hates vegetables, growing up in a vegetarian household was very difficult for me. I was extremely picky about the dishes I ate. Needless to say, I gave my family a tough time. While sometimes my mother would use her power card to ensure I was eating a full meal, other times she’d accommodate my pickiness and make something special. Her go-to dish was simple and nostalgic — choori. 

While there is no formal knowledge about this dish’s history, choori is commonly eaten in many desi households. 

Choori is an extremely effortless dish made by crushing up piping hot and fresh-off-the-stove chapatis and adding in ghee and sugar. Chapatis are a type of Indian flatbread cooked on the stove. 

The first step of making choori is to make chapatis. In the typical Indian style, you need a 2:1 ratio of whole wheat dough and water. The water is added to the dough in intervals, as adding all of it will only make a mess (you don’t want the dough to be drowning in water). 

When you start kneading the dough, it might be a little dry at first, so you can add more water as needed. The dough should be kneaded using knuckles — because that’s what helps soften the dough — and it should be kneaded until the dough is soft, yet firm enough to hold its shape. Then, the dough is divided into small balls, just a little bit smaller than the palm of your hand, and rolled out using a rolling pin. 

To cook the rolled-out chapatis, they’re placed on a hot circular griddle, commonly called a tawa in India, and cooked on both sides. You’ll know your chapati is cooked properly if it puffs up like a balloon — that is when it is taken off the tawa and torn into smaller pieces. 

After crushing the chapatis, a spoonful of ghee and two spoonfuls of sugar are added. It is important for the chapatis to be fresh and hot as the ghee and sugar will melt, making the warm, cozy mess that is choori. 

I’ve always loved choori, but it’s a rare treat for me now. When I first moved to Canada, it dawned on me that I hadn’t had choori in years and it was now only a distant memory from my childhood. Even when I tried to find the ingredients and assemble them myself, choori was not the same. It was upon being separated from this dish that I realized there’s more to food than just sustaining life. Choori allows me to stop and take a moment to relive my childhood. 

If you’re interested in making choori, you can check out Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s online recipe. While I grew up on a different recipe, Chef Kapoor’s certainly provides you with some ideas about how this dish can be customized to your liking.

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