Do you find yourself getting stuck in debates at the dinner table over which flour should be used for what? Particularly when it’s between two things that sound like they could work similarly. Like coconut flour and chapati flour. While we know the second is a popular ingredient in Indian breads, coconut is also a popular ingredient in South Asian food, so surely it would be just as complementary?
We’ll be taking a close look at these two popular flours and comparing their nutritional value, health benefits, and uses. So, if you have been wondering what exactly sets them apart – look no further.
Comparing coconut flour vs chapati flour
|Chapati flour||Coconut flour||All-purpose flour|
|Allergens||Wheat, gluten||Coconut (tree nuts)||Wheat, gluten|
|Liquid absorbency||Medium – high||High||Medium|
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)||6-8 months||Up to 2 years||6-8 months|
|Best for baking||Unleavened flatbreads, roti, paratha, chapati and any recipes that call for whole wheat flour||Most desserts – especially cakes, cookies, and pie crusts, muffins.||Non-yeast recipes such as cookies, biscuits, and some breads|
Chapati flour, better known as atta flour, is a type of whole-meal flour made with the whole wheat kernel and bran. It differs from the wholemeal flour we might know, as it is milled differently and sometimes contains other kinds of grains or flour mixed in to create different flavors.
When milling atta flour, it is ground aggressively in disc mills called chakkis, which damages the starch in the grain and therefore changes its properties compared to how we mill wheat flour. The damaged starch content in atta (14-18 %) is higher than in wheat flour (8-10%). The grinding also produces heat, which triggers the grain to have a roasted smell and adds sweetness.
This means it absorbs more water too, creating the lovely soft chapati bread, but makes it unsuitable for classic western bread loaves.
Differences between chapati flour and coconut flour
The flavor notes of chapati flour and coconut flour have some similarities. They both have a little sweetness and nuttiness to them. Chapati flour is the more neutral of the two, making it better suited to breads, while the coconut flavor in coconut flour is perfect for sweet baked goods.
Coconut is the healthier of the two, and is also gluten-free, paleo, and keto friendly for the most part, and comes with various benefits, uses and recipes.
Baking with coconut flour vs chapati flour
Baking with coconut flour and chapati flour are two totally different experiences! Coconut flour can be used to produce dense, moist treats, while chapati flour is excellent for making puffy, airy breads.
Some techniques that work well with coconut flour, such as whisking or folding, may yield different results when applied to chapati flour recipes. On the flip side, kneading the dough is necessary for chapati flour but not recommended for coconut flour-based recipes.
Liquid absorption is another factor. While chapati flour is almost on par with whole wheat flour when substituting, it does tend to absorb a bit more liquid, so swapping chapati for all-purpose directly isn’t suggested. Instead, mix about 50% of your chapati flour in with your all-purpose.
That being said, if you want to make chapati or another kind of flatbread with gluten-free flour, coconut would be my number one choice. Usually mixed with a little psyllium husk to hold it together, it really complements Indian and South Asian style food.
If you want to use chapati flour to make a loaf of bread, just don’t. You will end up with a weird, gummy, crumbly mess. Stick to using it for flatbreads.
Ingredients in chapati flour vs coconut flour
You can usually find chapati flour/atta flour in Indian supermarkets and grocery stores. In India, people sometimes take the unmilled grains to the local mill to have them ground freshly, which is probably why it tastes extra amazing over there.
You can find regular atta flour, or you can find medium atta flour. The latter is a mix of white chapati flour and wholemeal flour. The ingredients of regular chapati flour should be 100% stone-ground whole wheat. Coconut flour should be 100% dried and ground coconut flakes or meat. And if all those details feel a little overwhelming – which they are – just know that we’ve got your back and have already identified the best coconut flour you can buy.
Chapati flour + coconut flour nutritional facts
|Per ¼ Cup Serving||Chapati flour||Coconut flour||All-purpose flour|
|Glycemic index score||62||45||85|
Chapati flour vs coconut flour storage
When it comes to flour, the first thing that comes to mind is storing it properly to make sure it remains as fresh and delicious as possible. Chapati flour (atta) and coconut flour must be stored correctly for the most extended shelf life, so they don’t go rancid.
For chapati flour, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Coconut flour should also be stored in an airtight container away from heat and light, but it does much better with some refrigeration.
Both will stay better for longer if you keep them closed off from the air after opening the pack.
Chapati flour vs coconut flour: The ultimate verdict
Okay, so having had both these flours made into flatbreads, I think the texture of chapati flour in a flatbread is better, but coconut flour is great! The sweetness of the coconut really compliments the dishes I usually eat flatbread with, soaking up all the flavors. So I’m actually sticking with coconut on this one for that reason. After all, if it’s the healthier alternative and it tastes great with the dish, why not?
You can use a mix of wholemeal four and white flour, or you can use white wholewheat flour….or branch out and try a coconut flour flatbread!
While chapati flour is a whole wheat flour, they are different as they behave differently due to the way they are processed. Atta flour is finer, absorbs more water, and tends to be higher in gluten, all of which affect how it bakes.
While chapati flour isn’t the most nutritious of all the flours available, it is usually better than all-purpose as it is made with the whole grain and not the refined grain.