The culturally rich and colorful Rajasthan, the largest state in India has many distinctive attributes to its credit. The land well known for its forts, intricately carved temples, decorated ‘havelis’ (private mansions) also boasts a remarkable cuisine of its own.
Being largely covered by the harsh ‘Thar Desert‘, as also due to the war-like lifestyles of its residents, the lack of green leafy vegetables, the scarcity of water, the need for food that could last for several days without having to be heated, have all had their influence on the cooking in this arid region.
‘Rajasthan’, the name literally means ‘the land of great kings’ or ‘land of great kingdoms’. This surely defines the richness seen in the cuisine.
We as a team of bloggers with our oncoming blog-hop are hoping to explore the intriguing culture and tradition of Rajasthan via the food.
One such, extensively loved traditional complete meal is a set of three dishes called ‘Dal (lentils) – Baati (a form of bread) – Churma (sweet/dessert)’. What follows is my attempt towards recreating these dishes with a slightly healthier touch, with all due respect to the traditional approach.
These recipes are adapted from Tarla Dalal’s recipes.
(As Sarah Arrow says here, it is always credible to mention the source, however well known or less known the original author happens to be)
Panchmel Dal | Panchmel Daal :
In any Indian meal, lentils form a main source of protein, therefore boasting a prominent place. A variety of lentils are incorporated in the everyday cooking. One can note variations in the cuisine and manner of cooking of lentils, every few miles in India.
This preparation is named ‘Panchmel Dal’ which literally means the blend of five different lentils. ‘Panch’ meaning ‘five’, ‘mel’ pronounced with emphasis on the ‘e’, meaning ‘blend’.
tuvar dal – 1/3 cup (split pigeon peas)
chana dal – 1/3 cup (split yellow peas/bengal gram)
mung dal – 1/3 cup (split de-husked gram gram)
urad dal – 1 tbsp (split de-husked black gram)
mung bean – 1 tbsp (whole green gram)
ghee – 2 tbsp (or oil)
cloves – 3
bay leaves – 2
cumin – 1 tsp
green chili – 2 slit
asafoetida – 1 pinch
red chili powder – 1-3 tsp (as per taste)
turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
coriander powder – 1 tsp
amchoor powder – 2tsp (dried mango powder)
garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
tamarind puree – 2 tsp
water – 4 cups for the dal; and 3 tbsp for mixing with spice powders
salt to taste
- tuvar dal - ⅓ cup (split pigeon peas)
- chana dal - ⅓ cup (split yellow peas/bengal gram)
- mung dal - ⅓ cup (split de-husked gram gram)
- urad dal - 1 tbsp (split de-husked black gram)
- mung bean - 1 tbsp (whole green gram)
- ghee - 2 tbsp (or oil)
- cloves - 3
- bay leaves - 2
- cumin - 1 tsp
- green chili - 2 slit
- asafoetida - 1 pinch
- spice powders>>
- red chili powder - 1-3 tsp (as per taste)
- turmeric powder - ¼ tsp
- coriander powder - 1 tsp
- amchoor powder - 2tsp (dried mango powder)
- garam masala powder - ½ tsp
- tamarind puree - 2 tsp
- water - 4 cups for the dal; and 3 tbsp for mixing with spice powders
- salt to taste
- firstly, wash all the lentils with water twice and drain. adding 3 cups of water cook this in the pressure cooker. at the first whistle simmer for 10-15 minutes. turn off the heat and allow it to cool naturally. I prefer using the pressure cooker to cook the lentils always as this ensures not just quicker cooking but also less chances of nutrient loss.
- now prepare the spice powder mix, by mixing 3 tbsp of water to the spice powders taken in a bowl. mix well to remove lumps.
- one the lentils are cooked and ready, in a pan, heat 2 tbsp of ghee (or oil). add cumin seeds, cloves, bay leaves, green chilies and asafoetida. stir.
- once the cumin crackles or turns a darker shade and the green chili appears roasted on the surface, add in the spice powder solution which has been prepared. stir for 1-2 minutes.
- now add in the cooked lentils, salt, tamarind puree, adding additional 1 cup of water (or more as per the consistency desired) and bring it to a boil. simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes while stirring on and off to avoid burning.
- serve hot with Baati and Churma for a traditional complete meal OR serve with any flat bread or rice.
do not forget to stir on and off while the dal is cooking.
traditional dishes make use of ghee, which is clarified butter adding a wonderful aroma to the dish. for a vegan version, use oil.
some prefer to add amchoor powder (dry mango powder) at the very end once the heat is turned off. I prepared the solution with all the spice powders added together.
Baked Masala Baati:
The next component of this wonderful spread is the ‘baati’. To put this in context, one can view this as the ‘bread’ aspect of this meal, while the ‘dal’ makes the ‘soup’.
In itself , the baati can be served as a snack, other than of course along with Dal and Churma. Traditionally this is deep fried until golden. where as here, it is a baked version. This renders it low fat as also enabling the entire batch to be cooked in a single go.
The basic dough for the baati involves whole wheat flour, ghee and water. One can also add in crushed spices, to add to the flavor. This recipe is a stuffed baati, the filling being that of cooked, mashed peas roasted with a few spices, with no added spices in the dough.
for the dough>>
whole wheat flour – 1 cup
semolina – 1/2 cup
ghee – 2 tbsp
curds – 1 tbsp (plain yogurt – optional)
baking powder – 1/2 tsp (optional)
water – about 1/4 cup (or as needed)
salt to taste
for the filling>>
peas – 1/3 cup. if using frozen peas, defrost it and coarsely crush using a mixer/grinder. if fresh, cook and crush
oil – 1 tsp
cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
ginger-green chili paste – 1/2 tsp or grated fresh ginger 1/4 tsp with half a green chili chopped fine
coriander powder – 1 tsp
salt to taste
- to make the dough, add wheat flour to a bowl. add in semolina, salt to taste, baking powder, mix well
- now, add 2 tbsp of melted ghee (clarified butter), curds. mix this in using clean hands to form a crumbly mixture.
- adding small amounts of water (or milk) at a time, make a firm dough (not too soft, nor too hard). cover this with damp paper towel and keep aside for 20 minutes.
- now, to prepare the filling, heat the oil in a pan. crackle cumin seeds, add asafoetida, ginger-green chili paste. saute for few seconds.
- add the coarsely crushed peas, salt to taste, coriander powder. cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly.
- the, keep this aside, allow it to cool.
- after 20 min of dough resting, make 10 portions of the dough. keep it covered with the damp paper towel to stop it from drying up.
- make 10 portions of the filling too. keep this ready.
- pre-heat the oven to 250 deg C
- take one portion of the dough, roll it between your palms to make it smooth. place it on a rolling surface. roll to 1 & 1/2 inch diameter using a rolling pin. don’t worry if the edges crack slightly.
- now place one portion of the filling over this. bring up the dough from all around to cover it, not leaving any gaps. using your thumb, make an indentation in the middle. place this again under the damp towel.
- continue the same with the rest of the dough and filling.
- place all the prepared baatis on the baking tray. bake for 18 – 22 min or until well baked and golden all over. turn each baati every 5 min.
- also bear in mind to keep an eye on them towards the end of the time period. if they appear to be browning up too much in some areas, you may need to reduce the oven temperature and cook for a few minutes until done.
- serve with dal and churma. ghee can be brushed over each of the baatis to provide flavor and a shine.
The sweet component on the platter is referred to as ‘Churma’. This is prepared using whole wheat flour, semolina, which is coarsely ground after being cooked using ghee. Sugar then is added along with nuts and flavored with cardamom powder.
Traditionally, a dough prepared using wheat flour, semolina, ghee and milk is then divided into small portions, by pressing down each portion held over the palm and pressed over using fingers making indentations in the process. These portions of dough are then deep fried in ghee and served, again drizzled with ghee.
With a view to cut down on the calories consumed, I have used baking as a means to cook the dough, inspired by a video I had viewed on youtube.
whole wheat flour – 1 cup
semolina – 1/4 cup
ghee – 4 tbsp
milk to make the dough – 1/4 cup or as needed (I used skimmed milk)
pistachios – 4-6
almonds – 4-6
cashews – 4-6
cardamom pods – 3, the seeds ground into a powder (or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder)
powdered sugar – 3 tbsp (I used demerera sugar)
- in a bowl, mix wheat flour, semolina.
- add ghee, mix to make a crumbly mixture.
- now, adding milk a little at a time, make a firm dough – not too soft, nor too hard.
- cover this and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- while the dough is resting, chop the nuts and powder the cardamom, pre-heat the oven to 250 deg C.
- then, divide this dough into 2 portions.
- make a ball with each portion and roll using a rolling pin as shown in the picture. smoothen out cracks as they occur. but a few here and there do not matter.
- now these need to be baked. Since I prepared the entire meal together, I baked this churma dough along with the baatis as you see in the picture.
- place them on the baking tray, and bake at 250 deg C for 15 minutes. turn them over every 5 minutes. do note that this takes lesser amount of time to bake, as opposed to the baatis. keep an eye. do not allow them to burn.
- once baked. allow to cool.
- then break them into small pieces (they will have a biscuit like texture) and powder coarsely using a mixre grinder or food processor.
- them mix in powdered sugar, chopped nuts, cardamom and serve. garnish with additional chopped nuts.
For vegan version, use almond butter or coconut oil instead of ghee. Instead of cow’s milk, use almond milk.
To manage my time appropriately while cooking all 3 dishes together, I first placed the dals to cook in the pressure cooker, then began making the dough for the baatis and churma. While they were resting, I prepared the filling for baatis, powdered nuts, sugar, cardamom and copped additional nuts for the churma, while pre-heating the oven. Then prepared the baatis, churma for the oven. Once they were out and cooling, I prepared the dal. Again once churma dough cooled, I powdered it and completed the preparation.
Instead of demerera sugar, regular sugar can also be used.
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