Bajra Blitz / Traditional delicacies with Pearl Millet

Remember the grimaces and frowns over health food that mother served us when we were small.. silently resolving all the time, that we will never make dull rustic food like this ever in our lives, and the irony of it is, we do!

We make it. Coz we are older, umm… wiser and usually because our ‘been there done that’ taste buds have come back home 🙂 We somehow find warmth, joy and taste in that bowl of porridge. I never thought I would. But now I eat my own words, savor the austere roti and lick that delicious hot bowl of goodness too.

Pearl Millet - broken

Pearl Millet – broken

Bajra or pearl millet is one of the oldest and most popular kind of millet. It is a gluten free grain with phenomenal nutritional benefits. Eating bajra provides us with disease fighting phytochemicals that lower cholesterol, antioxidants, plenty of fibre, folate, magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamins-E and B-complex, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. It is particularly noted for its high iron content.
Being rich in fiber, it maintains your glucose levels hence excellent for diabetics.

The clincher for me
This whole grain supports weight loss as the high fiber content leads to a feeling of fullness for a prolonged period of time. 😉

I have two very traditional North Indian delicacies made from pearl millet. A humble bowl of porridge ideal for breakfast or brunches and the very bucolic slightly thick nutty rotis made with its flour.

Khichri / Kheech / Thuli / Dalia

Khichri / Kheech / Thuli / Dalia

Bajra Roti / Flatbread

Bajra Roti / Flatbread

I have used the broken version of pearl millet, easily available in Indian stores. Bajra is typical winter food, generally/mostly extensively consumed when the weather is cold. According to Ayurveda, bajra when eaten with jaggery and ghee becomes more enriched with calcium and iron. Wow, isn’t it.

A closer view

A closer view

PEARL MILLET KHICHRI/DALIA/PORRIDGE

Ghaat, khichri, thuli, dalia, kheech are the various names for porridge in India. Multiple communities, multiple names! 🙂 But the aroma, one. The taste, one. Method? a tad different here and there… but the soul, the essence is the same.

Bajre ka dalia

Bajre ka dalia

To make 4 bowls of porridge –

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of broken pearl millet
  • 1 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 1/2 cup of split green mung dal, with skin Chilke wali mung dal
  • salt to taste
  • 5-6 cups of water

Method

Wash and soak the split green mung dal for at least 30 minutes.

chilke wali mung dal or green split mung dal with skin

chilke wali mung dal or green split mung dal with skin

In a deep heavy pot or pressure cooker, heat the ghee, dry roast broken pearl millet for 3-4 minutes. Then throw in the dal without the water. Roast the dal and bajra for another 2 minutes. To this, add 5-6 cups of boiling water. Season with salt. Keep mixing, else you will find knots and lumps in the final product. Keep stirring till you get a homogenous mix. Now at this stage pressure cook the contents for 7-8 whistles. Once done, cool. Remove. Give a good final stir.

Enjoy the porridge with ghee or curds or milk or kadhi.

Best with pure desi ghee

Best with pure desi ghee

My fav combination - with milk!

My fav combination – with milk!

BAJRE KI ROTI

To make this wonderful rustic flatbread you need pearl millet flour. Although absolutely simple to make, these rotis are delicious! I love to eat them with fresh white butter and jaggery!

Gud and makkhan take this humble roti to another level!

Gud and makkhan take this humble roti to another level!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pearl millet flour
  • hot water to make the dough
  • salt, optional

Method

Using hot water, bind the dough to a soft texture. Knead well for 2-3 minutes. As is the case with all millet rotis, you need not wait to make the flatbread. The dough should be used immediately to make the rotis. Grabbing a handful of the dough, roll out into a thin roti. Generously dust the rotis with dry bajra flour or wheat flour to make the rolling easier. Cook the rotis on a hot tava (griddle) till both sides are light brown in colour.
Brush one side of the roti with melted ghee and serve hot.

These delicious rotis can be served with any curry, some onions and green chilies. A simple wholesome meal for thousands of people in India.

Simple, tasty and highly nutritious meal

Simple, tasty and highly nutritious meal

I find my 6-year-old cringing or making faces when porridge is served and I do not fret. Having been in her shoes, lived the part of a fussy persnickety child… I simply cajole her, sometimes bribe, sometimes bargain and just sometimes let it go. As I know she will come back.  In Sometime.

Rajasthani Gourmet Delight – Dal Baati, my Skinny Version!

Rajasthani Special - Daal Baati,  Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

Rajasthani Special – Daal Baati, Spring Onion Stir fry and Garlic Red chili Mint chutney

Rajasthan literally means “Land of kings”. The largest state of India, boasts of the great Indian desert in the midst of it. Culturally rich, folk music, dance and of course food holds a special place in the heart of every Rajasthani.

Rajasthani cooking was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. Scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. But now with technology nothing is scarce any more and you get everything everywhere at any time. So although you will find excessive use of lentils and pulses in their food, fresh vegetables has found its way into their thalis too.

Now Rajasthan’s signature dish is Dal Baati.
Baati is a hard, unleavened bread prized for its long shelf life and high nutritional content and for the minimal quantity of water required for its preparation. Baati is usually mostly eaten with dal/lentil stew. Traditionally, this dish is served with loads and loads of ghee/clarified buttter. But now since no one is happy eating that much ghee, we literally make it sans the fat.

Basket of Baked bites

Basket of Baked bites

Where I have been brought up on Dal makhani, tandoori roti, Chole Bhature, Rajma chawal, the husband was served Dal Baati. I had never tasted it before my marriage, and truthfully, I didn’t care for it much after that too. But after 10 years of togetherness, we start to like each other’s favorite food. Thats what marriage does to you. Now he doesn’t wince when Chinese is mentioned and I volunteer to make Dal baati! Now thats huge on my part.. 😉

Baati

Baked to perfection

Baked to perfection

There are many ways to make the baati. The easiest is to deep fry the shaped dough in ghee till they turn golden brown and crisp. But that is also a sure shot way of clogging all your arteries and sending you to God a wee bit faster than desired.
So, we have all taken to baking them. Lot of people bake with out a traditional oven, by slow roasting on the gas using a metal sieve or a gas tandoor till the baatis have browned.

I use my regular oven and what I have learnt after many years of making horrendous mistakes is to make them small, literally bite size, so that they bake quickly and uniformly . Although shaping of the dough is actually a big pain in itself.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour/atta
  • 1/4 cup semolina/rava/sooji
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp oil or ghee or cream/malai
  • Luke warm water to bind

Method

To the flour, add semolina, salt and the softener(ghee or oil or cream). Rub well with your palms. Now add warm water and bind into a semi hard dough. This will take some time, as you want your dough to be a bit stiff. Knead well. Keep aside covered for 30 minutes.

The smaller the better

The smaller the better

Now to make the rounds, pinch small portions out of the dough and shape into a ball, making sure that no creases or cracks are on the surface. To achieve this, you have to keep massaging the small round between your palms and shaping-reshaping them into perfect smooth round balls. Mind you this requires some time and patience, so my advice would be grab that bowl of dough, switch on the fan and put on some music, SIT and then start to make the rounds. Just makes it a little pleasant, that’s all.

Preheat your oven. Once the rounds are made, using a sharp knife, make light incisions making sure they do not go all the way to the base. This is done to ensure they are baked evenly and the insides do not remain raw. Place the rounds on a greased tray and bake for at least 30 minutes at 170C, till they brown and are cooked evenly. You can keep turning and checking on them while they are baking.

Once done, remove and keep them covered.

Serving Suggestion: While serving, coarsely crush the baati between a clean kitchen napkin using your palms. Ideally the crushed bits are topped with spoonfuls of ghee and served with dal and other sides.

Soak these beauties in a big bowl of daal

Soak these beauties in a big bowl of daal

Panchmeli Daal

This lentil stew is absolutely divine. Made with a mixture of 5 different lentils, tempered with garlic and onions, this makes for a perfect accompaniment for the royal baatis!

Panch meli Daal

Panch meli Daal

I usually eyeball the quantity of the daals/lentils and this dal is best made in ghee.

Ingredients

  • 2 fistfuls green split mung dal, chilke wali mung dal
  • 1 fistful yellow mung dal
  • 1 fistful toor/arhar dal
  • 1/2 a fistful urad dal
  • 1/2 a fisful channa dal
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 piece of ginger, julienned
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 big tomato, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • red chili powder – according to taste
  • salt
  • Ghee or butter – 2 tbsp
  • To garnish: 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Method

Mix all the lentils, wash and soak for at least 30 minutes.
In a pressure cooker or a pan, boil all the lentils along with turmeric powder, bay leaf, salt, julienned ginger and 2 crushed cloves of garlic.

Garlic and bay leaf lend a tantalizing aroma to the lentil mix. Once done, keep aside.

In a deep pot, heat ghee, crackle the cumin, fry minced garlic, slit green chilies and onions till they turn pink. Now add tomatoes, along with red chili powder. Cook till the fat leaves the sides and the tomato is fully mashed. This will take about 5-6 minutes. Now add the boiled dal. Mix well. Boil for a couple of more minutes till the consistency is one. Lastly, switch the flame off, stir in garam masala and chopped coriander leaves.

Serving Suggestions: You can make an added tempering of ghee, one dried whole red chili, some cumin seeds and 1/2 tsp red chili powder. Pour it over the dal, serve hot.

Spring Onion Saute

Spring Onion Saute

Spring Onion Saute

This has to be one of the easiest and tastiest saute ever.
In a wok, heat little oil, crackle cumin, fry slit green chilies, throw in the chopped spring onions, along with salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, red chili powder and 1/2 tsp coriander powder. Saute on high till the onions are rightly cooked, that is, not too mushy and still retaining a bite. That’s it. Serve.

Garlic Red chili Mint Chutney

Garlic Red Chili and mint Chutney

Garlic Red Chili and mint Chutney

Now this is one killer chutney! Best when made in a mortar pestle or over a stone. But a mixer would work fine as well.
Take: 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves , 1/4 cup mint leaves, 6/7 soaked dried kashmiri red chilies, 1 huge clove of garlic and some salt. Grind into a coarse paste. Mix in juice of 1/2 a lime. Serve.

Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch

This recipe is my entry to Vardhini’s Bake Fest #25.