Monday, April 7, 2014

Baati & Dal - A Sunday brunch special with the colors of Rajasthan

Hope everyone had a great weekend and getting back to the routine of the week days. School is out for a Spring break week which officially stamps the change of seasons. Winter is on its way out and Spring is showing its colors, the color burst looks gorgeous all around. We had some rains last week during the day and there was a bright, big rainbow across the sky, had never seen anything like that before, it was simply breathtaking. We stopped and got out of the car multiple times on the way just to enjoy the sight and breathe in the smell of the first rains. Without the dry, parched soil it doesn't smell like the Indian summer rains I remember but it was very calming and joyous all the same.

A few of months back, we had a group of BH's colleagues home for dinner and as everyone was enjoying the food, I was talking to one of the guys who is from Udaipur in Rajasthan. He loved my preparations and extended an invitation to come visit his family in Udaipur. The conversation turned towards Rajasthani delicacies and I told him we enjoyed dal-baati very much which apparently is a staple food in Rajasthan. While I mentioned how I baked them in the oven, he said that his mom first steams them and then bakes them to make them lighter and softer. Until then I thought baatis were hard baked bread. One day, as I was flipping through the pages of my '660 curries' by Raghavan Iyer, I came across the recipe for Baati and was pleasantly surprised to find him say baatis were steamed and then baked in the oven, it was sort of a validation. Most recipes found online ask you to bake them directly in the oven and this is how it is generally made. But steaming before baking not only gives them a wonderful shine on the outside but also makes them flakier and lighter with the same amount of oil/ghee. I have some pictures to show you the texture difference between the two methods and you have to take my word on the taste difference :-). These baatis when dunked in hot dal do not miss the ghee at all.
The first time I made baati and dal at home, I served dal on the side and kept the baati in the center of the plate. BH looked quizzically at me as if to ask how he was supposed to eat it. We broke the baatis, dipped them in the dal and took a bite, it was good but not magical or exotic like dal-baatis are made out to be, it felt like eating a really thick roti piece with dal :-). BH went ahead and poured dal all over the baati pieces to soak them further and ate them like idli-sambar :-). When I was searching the blogosphere, I found this link where they serve a jazzed up version of dal-baati. The chat lover that I am, it helped me fall in love with this every day food from Rajasthan and there was no looking back after that. We ended up spooning generous amounts of dal on top of baati pieces, garnishing the mixture with some chopped onions and cilantro on top. That is exactly how we eat this delicious combination every time I make them at home now. This might make traditional foodies from Rajasthan cringe a bit but as the saying goes in Kannada "Oota tanniche, nota pararicche (~ eating preferences should be to please your own self, ..), we continue to eat the hearty dal-baati served as a chat.
Traditionally, baati is served with panchmel dal (a lentil stew made with 5 dals) and the type of lentils and proportions vary vastly from region to region. Here is how I make it, though may not get a stamp of authenticity, it can hold very well on the taste with any authentic dal preparation. I go very light on the dry masala powders but give a vibrant color and flavor with the final tadka (seasoning) which knocks you out of this world especially if you are serving this as a chat.

I made a delicious dal-baati combination for brunch today and we enjoyed this healthy, nutritious and very filling meal on a lazy Sunday.
I have never been to Rajasthan, have only read about this great desert land nestled in the west of India. Like many of us, I have a bucket list of things to do and places to visit before my time is up :-). Visiting Rajasthan's desert definitely tops my list. If you are like me and have not yet visited Rajasthan, I recommend you watch this beautiful movie called 'Lamhe'. From the very first scenes of Waheeda Rehman ordering a very young looking Anil Kapoor to 'Matha Theko (prostrate and get blessings from the land)' to the final scene where the gorgeous Sridevi stands in a moonlit palace and tells a prem kahani (love story) to a group of village folks, the movie drips (just like the ghee from the baati) of the essence of Rajasthan for me. It has remained one of my favorite movies to date, I wonder why it was not well received :-(. Here is a beautiful Sridevi dancing gracefully to a folk inspired tune in Lamhe, enjoy the song while eating a bowl of baati-dal and if you like it, go ahead and get the full movie to watch. It is a visual treat!

I had a bunch of freshly picked and cleaned fenugreek leaves, I chopped some up and added it to the baati dough which made it very flavorful. You can add dry fenigreek leaves (kasoori methi) or other flavoring agents (see notes) or make baatis plain.
Baati in the foreground is baked directly, one in the background is steamed and then baked
What do you need to make Baati? 
Makes 12-14 baatis
2 cups wheat flour
1/4 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp salt
2 green chilies minced
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh fenugreek leaves (optional but recommended)
1/4 Tsp crushed ajwain
1/4 cup Tbsp yogurt
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp water

How do you make Baati?
  • Sieve wheat flour, soda and salt together to remove any lumps.
  • Add oil, minced chilies, crushed ajwain, chopped fenugreek and mix it to crumbles. 
  • Add yogurt and bring the dough together. 
  • Add water slowly to make a stiff dough, keep kneading as you mix and stop at a hard dough consistency. 
  • Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350F. 
  • After the resting period, knead the dough for a couple of minutes to give it a smooth surface, break off golf sized pieces from the dough.
  • Roll them into smooth balls. 
  • I have a steamer container in my rice cooker which has holes all over so the steam from the hot water below steams the baatis on top. You can use any steamer you have or steam it in pressure cooker (without the weight) like you do for idlis. 
  • Set the balls with an inch of space in between and steam them for 10 minutes. 
  • Move the steamed baatis to the pre heated oven in the center rack (use a pizza stone if you have or a baking sheet). 
  • Bake them for a total of 18-20 minutes, turning each baati over after 10 minutes until they turn light brown. 

What do you need to make Panchmel Dal for the Baati?
1/4 cup toor dal
1/4 cup husked moong dal (dhuli hui-yellow colored)
1/4 cup green split moong dal or masoor dal
1/4 cup chana dal
1 Tsp urad dal
1 inch piece of ginger - peeled and julienned into thin strips
1 bay leaf
1 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp turmeric powder
1/2 Tsp garam masala powder
1/4 Tsp coriander powder
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/4 Tsp red chili powder
1/4 Tsp asafoetida
1/2 Tsp cumin seeds
2.5 Tbsp oil - divided use
1/2 Tsp ghee
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

How do you make Panchmel Dal? 
  • Wash and soak dals for 30-45 mins, this will help cook it faster and better. 
  • Rinse and drain the water.
  • Take it to the pressure cooker along with ginger and bay leaf.
  • Add 1.5 cups of water, 1/2 Tsp salt and pressure cook for 2 whistles or until dals are soft and mushy. Let it cool.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a pan, add cumin and let sizzle.
  • Add the minced onion and fry for 2-3 minutes on medium heat until onion becomes soft.
  • Add the pureed tomato and turmeric powder and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes. Tomato loses the raw flavor and oil starts to show up on the sides of the pan.
  • Add garam masala and coriander powder, mix it well.
  • Add the cooked dal, adjust water to the desired consistency. Make it pouring consistency for use with baatis. 
  • Let it come to a good boil (4-6 minutes).
  • Add chopped cilantro and lemon juice and switch off.
  • Heat a pan with remaining oil and ghee on low heat.
  • Add asafoetida, red chili powder and heat it through, do not let it burn.
  • Pour this over the dal, cover and let it sit for 5 minutes so the flavor is infused before serving.

Serving Baati-Dal: 
  • Break hot baatis into bite sized pieces in a bowl.
  • Drizzle a couple of drops of ghee on top if you desire. 
  • Pour dal all over the baati pieces.
  • Garnish with finely chopped onions and cilantro. 
  • Eat while it is hot. 
  • Baati flavors - minced ginger, crushed saunf, kasoori methi etc
  • Some recipes call for adding 1 Tbsp of chick pea flour or sooji per cup of whole wheat flour for flavor and texture, I do not do this but if you want to try, go ahead. 
  • Traditionally, baati is taken out of the oven and dunked in a pot of melted ghee. Once it soaks up the ghee, it is served with dal. I have just reduced the number of calories in my recipe a little bit (or by a huge margin :-))


Priya Suresh said...

Daal Baati and churma is quite enough for me to start my lazy sunday brunch.. Love baati with loads of ghee topped with dal,am drooling here.

Anonymous said...

Mouth watering.. Great post dear blogger The pics are worth the million bucks. Reference to the is added bonus :) Keep em coming

NamsVeni Pothas said...

wow. very delisious and healthy dish. colorful pictures added a beautiful flavour to the recipe.nice post