Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bisi Bele Bhaath - here comes an 'awe'thentic dish and recipe

The baby is growing up albeit at its own pace. I haven't had a chance to check if it is in the 90th percentile or not. As a mother, I am completely in awe of my baby, unconditionally in love with it. As mom, I want the best for my baby and at the same time love to hear compliments from others about how well my baby is doing. As always the initial years are hard, it does take a lot of effort from the mom to make the baby presentable day after day, week after week. I am told that as they grow up and become adults the hand holding comes down, though I am not so sure that will happen with this baby of mine. Sometimes we work in perfectly synchronized motion, I write and the baby shows off, people around stop by, put a gentle peck on the baby's cheek, the baby smiles and mom feels elated. But sometimes, there are no people, just the two of us trying to talk, trying to be coherent.
Whether it is presentable or not, bulky or thin, smart or not, social bee or introvert, I am constantly aware of the journey we have taken together so far and extremely proud of my baby. Though the pats and cheers make it seem worth while, I also draw immense personal satisfaction just by being there. Here is wishing a fabulous 5 to my blog baby as she completes the fourth year and steps into the 5th. Why am I calling it a 'her'? no logical reason, I am a she so maybe it is just a complex of familiarity. Anyways, Happy birthday Sattvaa!! and thank you my wonderful family, friends and readers that have stood by me and read all things (interesting or not) I put on this blog. I do recognize that me & my blog have sustained this far only because of all of you.

Hope you had a blast of a 2015, as we start 2016, here comes my warm wishes for a better year, more successful, more peaceful, more joyous New Year to all of you! Happy New Year!! 
A special occasion such as this calls for a super special recipe, don't you agree? Here is a very special and close to the heart dish from nammamma's kitchen. It is not an exaggeration to say that I literally grew up eating this dish since it is so popular and 'world famous' in Mysore that you would have it regularly :-). It is wholesome (has carbs, proteins and nutrient rich veggies), addictively tasty (you can never have one bowl of it and stop, also because it is always made in large quantities and you end up eating it for 3 meals of the day), stays well and gets better as it settles and cools down, made with a couple of vessels making cleaning extremely efficient and on & on & on.. This is a dream come true for moms as they can get a healthy meal on the table for their family and get away cooking only once during the day :-). Even with all these describable features and words, I really can't express what bisi bele bhaath means to me and many, many Kannadiga folks around the world. It is comfort in a bowl that magically teleports you back to home (wherever it is) and sits you among loved ones.
Bisi bele bhaath literally means 'hot lentil rice', for such a non descriptive name it comes with flavors that are mind boggling and uniquely different from anything else you may have tried before. We shortened the name and always called it bibebha or Bcubed or BBB. I used to make this so often a few years back that all my friends and guests have had it atleast once :-), then came a dry period and I didn't make it for over a year. It started a few weeks back with BH asking for Bisi bele bhaath. I kept pushing it off with various (rather very flimsy) excuses. The truth was that I wanted to make the 'real deal' so I could show off on the blog :-). Finally with DD home for holidays, I just didn't have the heart to put off the ask any longer. So before we left for our vacation last weekend, it was a day of BBB along with traditionally delicious ambodes. BH was happy beyond words (yes, he just slept off the rest of the afternoon).
The key to a good BBB is the powder you use, its freshness, ingredients and the balance of the flavors. Rest of it is cooked dal, rice and vegetables. I prefer making fresh powder but sometimes use store bought powder when pressed for time.

There are some dos and don'ts when it comes to BBB, especially the vegetables. At the outset, let me clarify that this is not sambar bhaath or bisi bela which are close yet galaxies away from BBB. I have eaten many versions of BBB but always come back to the version from nammamma's kitchen. Vegetables such as okra, eggplants, radish, pumpkins, onions, garlic, corn are never added to BBB, also there is no ginger or cilantro in this dish. I sometimes add bell peppers but they are skippable unless you love the strong flavor of bell peppers. Nammamma never used cardamom or nutmeg in her BBB powder as the flavor is overpowering and I continue with that tradition. I like cooked peanuts over green peas or lima beans in BBB and hence add them to the dal while cooking.

Kohlrabi due to its bland taste and 'no smell' virtue is a preferred vegetable in BBB. You can use chayote squash in place of or in addition to kohlrabi, but remember chayote squash takes much less cooking time.  If you don't get either, use only beans, carrots and potatoes. I like to cook vegetables separately so they don't become mushy and I add them to the hot water starting with the hardest vegetable first.
BBB is eaten with a side of raita and the most common one you will find in Mysore homes is made of onion & tomato. Though chips and boondi are hailed as perfect crunchy accompaniments for BBB and are pushed by the darshinis in Mysore and Bengaloru, my love has always been and will be ambode. This is a lentil heavy food nirvana that you can't easily come out of any time soon :-). My rice to dal ratio is 1:1.5. I like the consistency of BBB. I have seen some folks use equal proportion or more of rice than dal, it is a personal preference. For a BBB which sets nicely as it cools, use the ratio I have given below.
If this preparation seems daunting, here are a few short cuts for busy lives (that crave for good food). While nothing beats the freshly home made BBB powder, these come close to it and will certainly satisfy your craving.
1. You can use store bought spice powders to save some time. I have used a combination of MTR BBB powder and vangibhath powder to make an utterly delicious BBB. Don't use just the BBB powder as it tends to thicken BBB way too much almost making it dry out like cement as it cools. Use a mixture of the 2 powders - (2 BBB for 1 Vangibhaath powder ratio)
2. If you have a pressure cooker with multiple vessels that go in, use it to cook dal, rice and vegetables at the same time. Cut bigger pieces of vegetables so they don't disintegrate. Bring them together following the rest of the process.
3. Soak dal for an hour to speed up its cooking, add dal, rice, and vegetables along with spice powder, salt and tamarind water into the pressure cooker and let it cook. Once pressure releases, open the lid and adjust any spices, let it come to a boil. Season it and add a Tsp of ghee.
This recipe is hard core Mysorean, too much of nammamma and way too many memories for me to handle. I need to go and sleep now :-). Have a blessed year!

What do you need to make bisi bele Bhaath? 
For BBB powder:
1/2 cup chana dal
1/3 cup urad dal
3/4 cup coriander seeds
20 byadagi red chilies (milder in spice and brighter on color)
10-12 Guntur red chilies (spicier chilies)
10 maratha moggu
8 cloves
4 - 1 inch pieces of cinnamon
1Tsp black pepper
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/2 Tbsp mustard
1 Tsp fenugreek
1/4 Tsp mace/javitri
1 Tbsp gasagase/poppy seeds
1 sprig (8-10) curry leaves
1/2 cup grated dry coconut/kobbari
For Bisi Bele Bhaath: 
1 cup rice
1.5 cups toor dal/arhar dal/split pigeon peas
1 lemon sized tamarind
1 Tbsp salt - divided use (adjust to taste)
2 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized kohl rabi
2 medium sized carrots
15-20 green beans
1/4 cup raw peanuts/green peas/edamame/lima beans
1/2 Tsp turmeric powder
3 Tbsp oil - divided use
1 & 1/4 Tsp ghee/clarified butter

1 Tsp mustard
6-8 curry leaves
2 Tbsp peanuts (use cashew nuts if you like them better)
1-2 pieces broken dry red chilies

How do you make Bisi bele bhaath? 
Making the powder: 
  • Take a heavy bottom pan/kadai and heat it on medium heat. 
  • Add chana dal & urad dal and roast them until they are light pink, keep stirring to avoid burning of dals. Takes about 2.5 - 3 minutes.
  • Add coriander seeds, curry leaves and dry red chilies and roast for another minute until you smell the roasted coriander. 
  • Add dry coconut, poppy seeds to the pan. Mix it a couple of times and take all ingredients onto a wide plate to cool. 
  • Add 1/4 Tsp ghee in to the pan, add all the remaining spices (fenugreek, cumin, pepper, cloves, maratha moggu, cinnamon, mace and mustard) and roast them on medium heat for 1-1.5 minutes until you can smell the spices. 
  • Remove from heat and add it to the plate to cool down. 
  • Once cool, take it in a blender and make a fine powder of all the roasted ingredients. 
  • Keep this in an dry, air tight container until ready to use. 
Bisi Bele Bhaath preparation: 
  • Wash tamarind and soak it in 2 cups of warm water for 20 minutes. Squeeze out the pulp, pith and seeds (if any) and collect the tamarind extract in a bowl.  
  • Wash all vegetables and pat dry them. 
  • String green beans, remove the 2 ends and break/cut into 1.5 inch long pieces
  • Peel carrots, remove ends and cut them into 1 inch long and 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • Peel, remove ends and cut kohlrabi into bite sized pieces
  • Peel and chop potatoes into bite sized pieces. 
  • Wash toor dal in running water, add to a pressure cooker along with 2 drops of oil and 3 cups of water and pressure cook until the dal is soft and mushy (takes about 5-6 whistles or 15 minutes on low after the first whistle). 
  • If you are using raw peanuts, add them along with dal. 
  • Heat a big pot (in which you will bring BBB together), add 2.5-3 cups of water, pinch of turmeric powder and 1/2 Tsp salt. 
  • Add kohl rabi first, let it cook for a couple of minutes before adding carrots and potatoes. Let them cook for a couple of minutes before adding green beans. Let the vegetables cook for a total of 8-10 minutes (depends on the size you have cut them) on medium heat. Switch off and keep it reserved for later use. 
  • If you are using green peas or lima beans, cook them along with vegetables. 
  • Wash rice in 2 changes of water, add 4 cups of water and cook either in a pressure cooker, rice cooker or open vessel. You want to get soft cooked rice. 
  • Chop tomatoes into small pieces. 
  • Chop bell peppers (if using) into strips. 
How to assemble BBB? 
  • Heat a pan with 1 Tbsp oil, add tomatoes and bell pepper and a pinch of salt. Let them soften up a bit. 
  • Use a big pot with a heavy bottom so you can stir the contents easily as you add them. 
  • Add cooked vegetables along with the broth into it. 
  • Mash cooked dal with a spoon and add it in. 
  • Add the tamarind extract, salt and turmeric and let it come to a gentle boil. 
  • Stir in cooked tomatoes and bell peppers. 
  • Add the BBB powder and mix it in. It should be off pouring consistency at this time. Add water to adjust and let it come to a good boil. 
  • Mash cooked rice slightly and add it into the pot and give a good mix so everything is coated with the masala. 
  • Test taste once and adjust BBB powder, tamarind, salt if needed. 
  • Add ghee at this time.
  • Keep stirring frequently so it doesn't get stuck to the bottom and let it cook for 20-30 minutes. 
  • Heat oil in a small pan, add mustard and peanuts. Let them pop. Add curry leaves and dry red chilies. 
  • Pour the seasoning over the BBB, cover and let it rest for atleast 30 minutes before serving. It tastes better as it cools down. 
  • The consistency of BBB when you switch off the stove should be juicy and succulent. It solidifies as it cools. 
  • Maratha moggu is an essential ingredient for the powder, the ones I get here are not very fresh and I compensate by adding a few extra. If you get fresh & aromatic MM, you can reduce the quantity by a couple.  
  • Adding just a spoon of ghee makes BBB taste delicious, try not to skip this. 
  • Adjust red chilies based on their spiciness and your tolerance. I currently have a variety that is extremely hot so I use it sparingly. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pakodi kadhi - My take on a tangy, spicy sauce with (non)fried gram flour dumplings

DD is home and home is well.. a little bit happier and a lot more chirpier sanctuary :-). I didn't even realize I missed her so much not even when I saw her in the airport earlier in the week. Once we reached home, had food and snuggled into the bed, I just sat there listening to the gentle snore and the regular breathing, simply staring at the lovely face that has changed so much over the years yet looks the same as ever. Oh boy, time flies.. Suddenly the house seems to have filled with sound and music as she runs around, Flora finds time to get off of her slumber and go sit next to DD wherever she is. The morning hugs are back in rage as are hugs for no reason all through the day. And 2 days are more than enough time to fill the house with a lot of clutter and move things to their 'so not rightful' places :-). All the order I tried to bring in the last couple of months of her absence has now gone out of the window and I am simply glad to have a books laden dining table, clump of clothes on the floor in bed room and snack plates and juice cups on the bed stand :-). It only goes to prove that I am not certainly the 'Dina Pathak' kind of mommy from 'Khubsoorat' - for those of you that didn't get this reference, get a hold of this golden oldie hindi movie, it is a perfect watch for a cold, wintry afternoon, oh wait until you have made this kadhi so you can enjoy it even more!
As with everything else, our food is going to look different too during the holidays. We have bid a bye-bye for a while to the healthy millets and quinoas. White fluffy rice rules the meals and it is all mostly about DD's favorite things being prepared in the kitchen in the coming couple of weeks while we enjoy the holidays together. I am going to worry about all the extra pounds that I am bound to put on later, there is a new year right around the corner and I need a resolution to kick off the new year, right? Brace yourselves for some exotic and some very simple recipes if I can just find the time to sit and write about them.

The weather outside is nippy and they are predicting a lot of snow (atleast by PNW standards) in the cascade mountains this week. I am a couple of hours away from the mountains but that shouldn't hold me back from celebrating the chilly weather in all its glory, does it? A flavorful pakodi kadhi with some steamed rice sounded like a perfect brunch for the family yesterday as we all got up lazily and didn't feel like separating breakfast and lunch. When I plan for a brunch on weekends, it is both easy to make and quick to finish. How many of you remember one of those super popular Indian advertisements for a healthy oil where the lady of the house is always impeccably dressed, with just a perfect strand of hair out of place to suggest she actually worked hard coming out of the kitchen with a bowl of some deep fried goodies in her hands. The dining table is already set with many other delicious dishes and the entire family including gracefully aging in laws, beautiful yet naughty kids and ofcourse the family dog are sitting around it with angelic smiles on their faces. Today's menu will get you pretty close to that picture, I leave it to you to actually dress up when you come to the dining table, does not happen in our house though, we are mostly in our pajamas and want the food ready to go :-). I had everything including the coveted sour curd at my hand's reach, so I started the preparation at around 8.30 and was done with a full meal on the table within 2 hours. For a focused toil of a couple of hours, a delicious meal to be enjoyed with family, that is the kind of Saturdays I love :-)
Pakodi wali kadhi or yogurt sauce with deep fried gram flour dumplings is a delicacy from the land of Punjab. Like most everything Punjabi, this curry is bold in colors, flavors and texture and makes a full meal. While it is a perfect side dish for both rice and roti, the traditional combination is to eat this with rice and hence kadhi-chawal is a colloquially fused word and always said in a single breath. Though the concept is similar to the Majjige huli from South India, the preparation and ingredients are very regional and bring out their own delicious tastes. Take some sour yogurt, add a thickening agent such as gram flour, sprinkle a liberal dose of spices and freshness of ginger, simmer & cook until the flour is well cooked and the curry is silky, creamy - sounds really simple, right? But I take a bow to the first person that actually came up with this delicious recipe, in my world they get a 100% for creativity.

I had never ventured out to make pakodi kadhi at home until recently though I have tasted it on multiple occasions made by different people. From restaurants to parties, this is a popular item where Indian food is considered. It is one of DD's favorite items to order after palak paneer of course when we go out for a North Indian dinner. I had this on my list of things to be made this holiday season when she is home, and such a success it was, I am sure it will sneak back on the list again before she leaves for college :-)
Traditionally, kadhi has deep fried pakodas and I made them in my usual low calorie way using the paddu pan, this method alleviates my mortal fear of exploding midriff to some extent. If you want, go ahead and deep fry them :-). If you want to skip the pakodas altogether, add one big potato chopped along with onions and let it cook as you simmer the sauce. This tastes great too served with some roasted papads. So the choice is literally yours to make. Nothing beats a naturally sour yogurt in this recipe but I have added my notes to compensate for lack of sour curds at the bottom of this post, check it out.
The list of ingredients and procedure may look a little daunting but with some good planning you can avoid all the sweat. A few simple tips will ensure that you come out of the kitchen smiling and holding a bowl of super delicious kadhi that folks are bound to fall in love with. I recommend starting the kadhi, get the first boil and simmer it down before you start to make the pakodis, this gives you enough time to make the pakodis in peace while also being able to stir the kadhi pot once every few minutes. Once the pakodas are done, you will still have time on your hands to make a simple flavored rice to get your entire meal ready together.
I am so glad that India has all these different regional delicacies and variations that the list of dishes never end if you are an enthusiastic foodie. I came across many, many recordings of authentic Punjabi kadhi on the internet, and like a salad bowl, I put many of the suggestions and recommendations of folks into my bowl, made sure the flavor was perfect for our palates and came out with a really, truly good pakodi kadhi. I won't claim this to be authentic or Punjabi but it definitely is something you don't want to miss out on before the winter passes.

What do you need to make pakodi kadhi? 
Kadhi ingredients
3/4 cup gram flour/besan
2 cups yogurt (sour yogurt)
8 cups water
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion (optional)
5-6 green chilies (adjust to taste)
2 pieces of ginger about 1 inch each
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp red chili powder
1/2 Tsp coriander powder
1/2 Tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tsp fenugreek seeds
2-3 dry red chilies
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
Pakodi ingredients
3/4 cup besan/gram flour
1 medium sized potato
1 small onion
1/2 cup chopped methi (fenugreek) leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp ajwain seeds
1/2 Tsp red chili powder (optional)
1-2 green chilies
1 Tbsp oil for roasting the pakodis
pinch of baking soda

How do you make Pakodi kadhi? 
Pakodi preparation (low calorie prep)
  • Wash and chop potatoes into small pieces 
  • Chop onions into small pieces
  • Chop green chilies into small pieces
  • Bring all ingredients listed under pakodis except for the oil in a bowl and mix it with your fingers. 
  • If needed, add a spoonful of water to bring them into a thick batter. 
  • Heat the paddu(ebleskiever or aebleskiver) pan on medium heat, and add a drop of oil into each of the hole and spread it with a pastry brush. 
  • Take a spoonful of batter in hand, flatten it gently and place it into the hole. 
  • Brush oil on top. 
  • Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the bottom side turns golden brown and crisp. 
  • Lift and flip the pakodis over onto the other side and let it cook for another 2 minutes and remove them onto a plate. 
  • Keep them aside until ready to dip in the kadhi (you may have to tie your hands at the back to resist eating the pakodis as they are very delicious :-))
  • There is always the option to deep fry the pakodis in hot oil but for recipes where they are dunked in a sauce, I find that the paddu pan is just a great, guilt free method. 

Kadhi preparation
  • Whisk yogurt to make it smooth. 
  • Take a deep and wide bowl, add yogurt and sieve the gram flour on top of it. 
  • Using a whisk or hand blender, whisk this to a mixture without any lumps. 
  • Wash green chilies & ginger, peel ginger skin and remove the stalks of chilies. 
  • In a mortar & pestle (or a small blender jar) make a smooth paste of green chilies and ginger without adding any water. 
  • Add salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and the ginger-green chili paste to this mixture and whisk it well. 
  • Dip your finger into this mixture and taste it, it needs to be an explosion of salt, spice and sourness in your mouth. Adjust spices to taste. 
  • Add about 6 cups of water and whisk everything together. 
  • Heat a deep kadai or a heavy bottom sauce pan on medium heat with 2 Tbsp oil. 
  • Once the oil is hot, add mustard, fenugreek and cumin seeds. 
  • As mustard starts to pop, add asafoetida and dry red chilies. Let roast for about 30 seconds
  • Add the thinly sliced onion (if you are not using this, go to the next step)
  • Saute onion for a minute or so until it turns limp. 
  • Reduce the heat to low.
  • Whisk the besan-yogurt mixture once more so there is no collection of besan at the bottom of the bowl and pour it carefully into the sauce pan. 
  • Use the hand whisk and blend it all together, if the consistency of the sauce is thicker than you like, add the remaining 2 cups of water. 
  • Increase the heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a boil, keep stirring with the whisk or a ladle frequently so besan doesn't end up becoming lumps. 
  • Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about an hour and 15 minutes. 
  • I am told that the word 'kadhi' is indicative of the slow simmering and stirring process involved to get the right texture and glistening finish of the sauce. 
  • You will notice that the oil used for seasoning comes to the top as besan cooks and the sauce gets a nice shiny, glowing look. switch off the stove. 
  • If you are serving the kadhi immediately, add the pakodi into it, if not keep them separate and mix when ready to serve. 
  • Yogurt used in kadhi needs to be sour, if you are using store bought sweet yogurt you can use one of the following ingredients to bring about the sourness - 1 Tsp of amchoor (dry mango) powder or 1/2 Tsp tamarind paste or 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Add this to the besan paste and whisk before you start to heat it. 
  • Pakodis in the kadhi can be made according to your taste and using ingredients that you like most - only onions, only potatoes, or any combination of pakodi vegetables. 
  • Adding fresh fenugreek to the pakodis brings about a wonderful flavor to the dish, if you do not have it garnish the kadhi with some kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) as a replacement. 
  • Kadhi tends to thicken as it cooks and also cools, so start with a pretty watery mixture. 
  • Simmering and stirring frequently are the key to a great kadhi, you can get it done with some planning as you set the kadhi on the stove first before starting to make pakodis. If you are really looking for a hands off experience, use a slow cooker or crock pot. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chipotle rotti - an Indo Mexican fusion bread you can't resist

What if I were to tell you that butter is good for you? What if I were to prove that there is indeed good butter in nature? What if I were to say that you can indulge in the buttery richness of this rotti without feeling guilty about how it always ends up sticking to those particular areas around your waist? Well, I am not the first one to profess the goodness of the natural butter found in Avocados (it is rightly called butter fruit in India) nor would I be the last one. Back in India, one of my childhood friends from Karwar (her family was from Karwar - a small town almost on the border of Kerala and Karnataka) who had settled in Mysore first introduced me to this deliciously bland fruit as her grand mom had carried a basket full of them when she came visiting.
The old lady had multiple avacado trees in her backyard and had picked some for her city bred grand children. As kids anywhere would be expected to behave, we got many of those butter fruits, cut them open sitting in the vast backyard and ate them up just scooping out the flesh. It was not a fruit we would find easily in vegetable markets in Mysore, nor did nammamma ever found a recipe that incorporated this fruit into it. So, butter fruit generally remained a somewhat neglected wild fruit of the backyard trees. While some of the fruits were devoured by kids like us, most  just dropped to the ground to become one with mother nature over time. I think the fruit has finally found its way to glory in India and I find many of the upscale super markets carrying this on a regular basis.

When I first tasted guacamole at Chipotle, I knew it was a dish that would stay in my kitchen and our hearts forever :-). Infact DD & I like the buttery avacado so much that once Subway introduced their now popular avacado spread (for an extra 50c on the 6 inch sub) we probably were two of Subway's customers that always asked for avacado in their sandwiches and many times boycotted the locations if they didn't carry the avocado :-). Back to Chipotle, this is one of the few restaurants I tend to relax knowing that my vegetarian cravings are going to be fully satisfied without ever worrying about what I get served. My favorite order has always been the bowl with lots of black beans, vegetables, guacamole, salsa (mild, medium and hot :-)). It is a complete meal even without the rice or the roti.
On the first visit, I thought Chipotle was the ultimate Mexican food until I realized much later it was a very Americanized Mexican food :-) similar to most Indian joints here. So I stopped claiming Chipotle to be my authentic Mexican source especially after accidentally ending up in a 'real authentic' Mexican place in San Diego once. The food tasted quite different from that of Chipotle and going by the natives that were enjoying the food there, I think it was more Mexican than Chipotle would ever be. But I got what I wanted in both the places making me a happy customer.

Whether authentic or semi-authentic, Mexican food is distinguished by the use of beans especially the black beans and the pinto beans. The real re-fried beans can be very heavy and disturbing to the stomach if you are not used to the real deal but you can certainly make a lighter version of them at home. I have been making Avocado rotis for over a decade now ever since a friend in CA shared her tip of making soft rotis by adding ripe avocados to the flour. I keep making variations of the recipe mainly based on how I feel that particular day. In India, there is a practice of adding lentils or dal to the roti dough to make it fortified with proteins, nammamma used to get the whole wheat ground in the mills and she would add about 1/4 of moong dal while she took it to the mill. Her rotis always had this softness and taste I have never been able to replicate yet.
Since I depend on the packaged whole wheat flour, all my additions to boost the nutrient factor are done externally while making the dough. One of the days when I started to make the rotis, I saw 2 ripe avocados on the counter and set them aside to add to the dough. I wanted to try something different and pulled out a can of black beans from the pantry. Some spices, a little sauteing and everything went into the bowl to make a rich, buttery dough that incorporated a good serving of proteins. Thus was born the chipotle rotti that fuses the distinct Mexican beans and avocados with Indian spices and green chilies :-). If you were to be an impassioned observer of the magic that happened in my kitchen on the said night, you may say that this really is a mish-mash of ideas that have been already tried and tasted but I like to think that I had a brilliant brain wave and sorta created a new recipe that burst with the robustness of the beans, silky smoothness of avocado and a slight tang from the lemons :-).

You do not need any oil or ghee for these rotis, they turn out super soft and stay that way for 2-3 days making them a great travel recipe or for sending to your daughter (or son) who has been busily studying for finals away from home :-). I have used very limited and most commonly available spices in the kitchen, you can tailor this to your family's taste buds.
How to select perfectly ripe avocados? 
The skin is not crinkly (which means it has aged beyond what you are looking for), color of the skin is dark green and the fruit is just soft to the touch. Also look for a smooth surfaced fruit that does not have dents or dips on it. If you happen to bring home a slightly firm avocado, keep it outside the refrigerator on a counter top for a couple of days before cutting them up for use.

What do you need to make Chipotle rottis? 
Makes about 10 regular sized rotis
1.5 cups of whole wheat flour + plus a little for dusting
1 can of black beans
1 medium sized ripe avocado
2-3 green chilies (adjust to taste) - finely chopped
1 Tbsp lime/lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp coriander powder (skip if you don't have it)
pinch of turmeric powder
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 Tbsp oil
1/8 Tsp mustard
1/8 Tsp cumin

How do you make Chipotle rotti? 
  • Heat oil in a big pan, add mustard and cumin. 
  • Once the mustard starts to pop, add finely chopped onion and green chilies and saute for a couple of minutes until the onion sweat. 
  • Open the can of beans and wash them thoroughly under running water for 2-3 times until the water runs clear. 
  • Add the beans to the pan followed by salt and the dry spice powders.
  • With the help of a potato masher, mash the beans completely so it becomes a soft blob.
  • Taste and adjust this mush for salt or spices, add chopped cilantro and switch off. Let it cool completely. 
  • Wash and cut the avocado vertically, remove the seed by gently giving it a push with a spoon. 
  • Scoop out the pulp into a wide mixing bowl, mash it gently, add the cooled beans mixture and bring them together with your fingers. 
  • Add whole wheat flour in spoon fulls and keep mixing to make a dough, you are looking for a slightly firmer than regular roti dough. 
  • Gently knead the dough for 1-2 minutes, make a smooth ball, cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Heat a flat griddle on medium heat. 
  • Break lemon sized balls from the dough, smooth them out and dip in dry flour. 
  • Gently roll them out with a rolling pin into a disc of 5 inch diameter and 1/8th inch thickness. Use dry flour to dust as you roll. 
  • Once the griddle is hot (spray a couple of drops of water and if it sizzles immediately you are good to go), transfer the roti onto the griddle. 
  • Let the under side cook for 30-45 seconds or until it develops small red spots before turnign the roti over to the other side. 
  • Cook until both sides have no raw flour surfaces, take it out onto a plate. 
  • Repeat process for all the remaining dough. 
  • If you are packing the rotis for travel, let them cool down before packing or else serve them hot with any chutney or plain yogurt. 
  • Keep the volume ratio of beans+avocado mixture and whole wheat flour same when you make the dough. If the mixture if high on beans and avocado, rotis tend to be very supple and will need gentle handling while rolling and cooking but they taste great. 
  • Mustard is just my South Indian touch:-), you can skip this and add cumin powder instead of whole cumin along with other dry powders. This makes the dough easier to roll out into rotis. 
  • Do not rest the dough for very long (optimal time is 15 minutes). If you want to keep it for longer, wrap in a cling wrap and refrigerate it. The dough turns darker in color as it rests due to the oxidation of avocado and the natural hue of black beans. Do not let that worry you. 
  • Adding lemon/lime juice to the avocado helps retains its color while also adding that touch of sourness to the rotis.