In Summary
  • Unlike today's chapatis that are symmetrical and as thin as photocopy paper, the chapatis of my days were thick, heavy and seldom circular in shape.
  • Christmas day was special; chapatis were not just fried using any cooking fat. A certain brand called Cowboy in a yellow tin was the favourite.
  • Chapatis made on Christmas eve would also be stored in the confines of the parents' bedroom until the following day.

Christmas no longer comes once in a year. We make chapatis at home regularly and eat them with either tea or beans.

Your local mama mboga probably also makes chapatis by the roadside and stores them in a big yellow bucket to be retrieved when customers pass by. Even major supermarkets are selling chapatis these days.

But when I was growing up, these were a delicacy only associated with Christmas Day. You would be extremely lucky to come across them any other time of the year.

SHOPS OVERWHELMED

Unlike today's chapatis that are symmetrical and as thin as photocopy paper, the chapatis of my days were thick, heavy and seldom circular in shape.

Advance preparations were always intense; demand for wheat flour would spike in the wake of the Christmas festivities. Sometimes that meant our parents had to walk miles to the nearest shopping centre for adequate supplies.

Shops would be so overwhelmed that they would limit the number of packets per household to just one or two. This was tricky because there would be a whole clan to be fed and you had to factor in the fact that each child was expected to eat no less than five chapatis for the full impact of the festivities.

Christmas day was special; chapatis were not just fried using any cooking fat. A certain brand called Cowboy in a yellow tin was the favourite, and it was believed to make the rounded delicacies so soft that you could could peel off layer after layer from one piece.

To avoid the inconvenience of going without these major ingredients, which would have been unforgivable, households stocked them well in advance. Luckily for us, the end of year tea farmers' bonus was paid just a month before Christmas. Parents would take advantage of this monetary boom to stock supplies.

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