Monday, March 23, 2009
Luchi - Chholar Dal
Sundays are fun days at our home. Meaning we try to do minimum work and spend maximum time lolling around. It also means having a special breakfast and lunch, of which we cook a large quantity so it can double up as dinner too. Less work, see!
So Sunny had been harping since time immemorial about having a traditional Bengali breakfast of Luchi (Maida Puris / refined flour flatbreads fried in oil) and Torkari (vegetable curry). I'd planned on making them this weekend but as luck would have it, I had to work both on Saturday and Sunday, and we had a nice simple lunch of rice, dal and vegetables which Sunny had prepared while I was in office. We ate up all of it, and when we got back home after a little evening stroll, I was too tired to prepare anything elaborate for dinner. Sunny piped in his suggestion of Luchi with Chholar Dal (Curried Bengal Gram), and while I was apprehensive about its being an onerous task to undertake, it surprised me by taking just an hour - from start to finish - to be ready. And was delicious to boot!
An authentic bengali meal that can be prepared in a jiffy - what can be better than that?! Here's how I went about it-
Maida (Refined / All-purpose white flour) - 2 cups
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Sooji (fine grain semolina) - 1-1/2 tablespoons
Vegetable oil - 2 teaspoons + more for deep frying
Yogurt - 1/2 cup, whisked lightly to thin out
Water - as required, for kneading
For Chholar Dal
Chhola / Chaney ki dal (Split Bengal Gram) - 200 gms.
Fresh coconut - 2 tablespoons small dice
Raisins - 1 tablespoon
Whole dried red chillies - 2, broken into half
Cinnamon - 1" stick
Green Cardamoms - 5
Cloves - 8
Bay leaves - 2 small
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Green chillies - 4
Ginger - 3/4th teaspoon, grated
Mustard oil - 1 tablespoon
Sugar - 1-1/4th tablespoon
Turmeric - 1/4th teaspoon
Salt - to taste
Water - 4 cups
Pure ghee (clarified butter) - 1 teaspoon, optional
1. Wash the dal till the water runs clear and soak it for a minimum 10 mins.
2. Wash and dry the whole spices. Chop the green chillies. Wash and soak the raisins.
3. In a pressure-cooker/large pot/skillet heat the mustard oil on medium-high until smoking. Immediatedly add the cumin, red chillies, bay leaves, cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves and stir till the cumin stops spluttering.
4. Add the chopped chillies and grated ginger. Stir for about 5-6 secs. or until fragrant. Do not let the ginger burn.
5. Immediately add in the soaked dal (minus the water), diced coconut and raisins and stir to mix in the spices. Let fry for about 2 mins.
6. Add the salt, sugar and turmeric and mix thoroughly.
7. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Remove the scum that rises to the surface.
8. If using a pressure cooker put on the lid and the vent and cook until 3 whistles on high. Remove from the heat and let cool.
9. Alternatively, if using a pot/skillet (like I did yesterday), after the dal comes to a boil lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer till the water reduces and the dal is cooked yet al-dente with a thick gravy consistency.(About 40-45 mins.)
10. While the dal is cooking, prepare the dough for the luchis. In a large bowl/platter mix together the maida, sooji, salt and 2 teaspoons oil.
11. Add in the yogurt, and working with your fingers mix it in the flour till the mixture acquires the texture of breadcrumbs.
12. Add water and form it into a ball. It will be slightly wet at this stage.
13. Transfer to a floured surface / sprinkle liberally with dry flour and knead till the dough becomes soft and elastic.
14. Set aside if using later (the dough will rise and aquire a slight tang - perfect for Bhatooraas!)
15. For immediate use, break small balls (about 1" diameter) off the dough and roll out into thin round luchis (approx. 3" diameter) with a rolling pin on a floured surface.
16. Heat sufficient oil in a wok for deep frying. Let your husband fry them in pairs till nicely puffed-up and amber, while you roll out around 20-25 of these cuties.
17. The dal will have cooked by now. Remove from heat, taste and adjust the seasonings, and mix in a teaspoon of Ghee, if using.
18. Lightly mash the dal with the back of a ladle.
19. Serve in individual bowls with the cute hot luchis.