Methi Thepla/Roti

Last week, everything came together to make it a perfect day to make Methi theplas. An unusually cold evening, an empty stomach, and fresh bunches of methi at the local grocery store. Methi thepla is one of my favorite gujarati dishes. Whenever I see fresh methi, I think of methi theplas and methi theplas take me back to immaculate gujarati kitchens with shiny stainless steel containers, round clay pots filled with water, and of course the famous roti and pickles dabba. When the theplas are being made, they fill the kitchen with an aroma that will whet anyone’s appetite. Left over theplas become a great breakfast item the next day. I always  look forward to having them with my morning tea.

This recipe is  blogged especially for my south indian friend Shanta who loves these theplas and had been asking me for the recipe.

2 cups wheat flour
1 table spoon besan (optional)
1 bunch fresh methi/fenugreek leaves  finely chopped (approx. 2 cups)
7-8 small green chilies cut finely (use less if you prefer mild rotis)
4 table spoon oil
1/2 tea spoon turmeric
1/2 tea spoon red chili powder (use less if you prefer mild rotis)
1 table spoon sesame seeds
3/4 tea spoon sugar
1 tea spoon salt
1/4 tea spoon hing/asafoetida (optional)
1 cup water

Method:

Mix wheat flour, besan and salt.
Add oil and mix well into the flours.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients except water
Now sprinkle about 3/4 cup of water all over the flour and knead into a smooth dough. If you are very comfortable with rolling rotis, you can add 1/4 more cup of water and knead it again. Keep the dough aside for about 1/2 hour.

When ready to make the theplas, take a golf-ball size dough and roll into a thin roti. You will need some extra wheat flour on the side to sprinkle on the rotis to roll them and to keep them from sticking to the surface. (Seasoned Indian cooks, please don’t get offended at this. This tip is only for the sweet and innocent beginners!)
Heat the roti on a medium hot tava for about 15-20 seconds. Smear 1/4 tea spoon of oil on roti and flip it. Smear oil again on the other side of the roti and keep on the tava until brown dots appear all over the roti. (another 15-20 seconds or so)

Note: Keep the tava reasonably hot while making rotis. Typically these rotis are not kept for more than a minute on the tava.

This recipe makes about 24 theplas and will stay fresh for at last 2-3 days on counter.

A Simple Gujarati menu Suggestion:
Methi Thepla
Cabbage or eggplant curry
Gujarati Kadhi
Rice
Papad
Sweet pickle

Gujarati Green Chutney Sandwich

Last week was San Jose Sharks game night. Dinner was going to take place in the car on my way to the stadium. It being a busy day, I was thrilled to have thought of making chuntey sandwiches. It’s just the kind of food that works out well for these kinds of outings. This chutney livens up any sandwich with its sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy taste.

Coriander Chutney

For Chutney:

2 medium-size bunches fresh coriander leaves/cilantro
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
12 green chilies (I used the thai variety but if using jalapeno use 3-4 depending on it’s hotness)
1.5 tea spoon cumin seeds
juice from 2 small lemons
2 tea spoon sugar
Approx. 1 tea spoon salt

1. Thoroughly wash coriander leaves.
2. In a blender add all the ingredients except salt and lemon juice. Add 1 table spoon water.
3. Blend until smooth. (You will have to stop the blender and scrape the blender on the sides a few times.)
4. Remove chutney in a bowl and mix in lemon juice and salt.

This chutney makes 10-12 sandwiches.
Variations: You can add 1 table spoon of mint leaves along with coriander leaves.

For Sandwiches:

Any bread of your choice but soft white bread tastes best I think.
1 cucumber, scraped and slices thin
About a half stick of butter, at room temperature

To make a sandwich:
Take 2 slices of bread and remove crust with a knife.
Spread butter and then 1 heaped tea spoon of chutney on a slice of bread.
Arrange 8-10 cucumber slices on bread.
Spread some butter and 1 tea spoon of chutney on the second slice of bread.
Put the second slice of bread on top of the first one.

Go Sharks!

Panchkuti Daal

panchkuti-daalsmall1

I never get tired of talking about the incredible variety that exists in Indian cuisine. So many different ways to cook so many different things. Having been intimately exposed to both Gujarati and South Indian cooking, I really have no excuse for making the same type of food everyday. If I put my mind to it, I can make a different type of daal or sambar each day of the year and at the end of it say that the year wasn’t long enough. And talking about daal, apart from the sweet gujarati daaL, I really like the Panchkuti daal. Nutritious, hearty, brimming with flavors and very tasty. Made with 5 different types of pulses, the unique taste and flavor of this daal comes from the freshly ground spices fried in ghee. I usually make it with onions and use an extra half a cup of water as I don’t like the daal to be too thick. If you don’t want to use onions, you can happily skip them. However you make it, it will bring out the best of roti or rice. If possible, make this daal with ghee and not oil. Ghee gives it a very nice aroma and taste. If you don’t have ghee, butter can be substituted.

Here it is, the famous Panchkuti daal from Gujarat.

2 table spoon chana daal
2 table spoon mung daal
2 table spoon urad daal
1 table spoon toor daal
1 table spoon masoor daal
1 medium sized onion/pyaaz
1 tomato
1 table spoon ghee/butter
1 tea spoon salt, some curry leaves/kadhi patta

Following to be ground into a paste

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tea spoon cumin seeds
¼ tea spoon turmeric
2 whole red chilies
1-inch piece of ginger
3 small green chilies (half, if using jalapeno pepper)
2 Cloves
a small piece of cinnamon
4 Black peppers
1 tea spoon salt

Preparation
1. chop onions.
2. Grind the masala ingredients into a paste by adding 2 table spoon water.
3. Pressure cook the dals in 1.5 cups of water until soft.

I don’t like my daal to have a pasty texture so I don’t mash it after it is cooked. I just add it as is, along with the water in which it was cooked.

When ready to make the daal, fry chopped onions and curry leaves in 1 tablespoon ghee for about 5 minutes. Add the ground masala paste, salt, and the chopped tomato. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the cooked dals and ½ cup of water. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Lapsi

Congratulations Abhinav! I was ecstatic to hear that you won an Olympic Gold for India.  You were representing a country of 1 billion people,  and amidst enormous pressure you delivered a gold. You got for India her first-ever Individual gold medal in Olympics. I am very happy for you today and it’s time to celebrate!

To celebrate an occasion by cooking something sweet is a common Indian tradition and I decided to carry it on by making a Gujarati sweet called Lapsi. There are new-world sweets and old-world sweets. Lapsi certainly belongs to the latter category. I think it was always a must-have item on the wedding menu at one time, but I am not sure if that is the case any more. For me, every cuisine/dish invokes different types of feelings and Lapsi reminds me of the hospitality and good nature of the Gujarati folk.

A big fan of jaggery/goL, I decided to make make Lapsi with brown sugar this time and was quite pleased with it.

Lapsi - An "Old World" sweet made in western parts of India

Lapsi - An "Old World" sweet made in western parts of India

1/2 cup broken wheat

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup ghee

1/4 cup raisins and almond slivers

1/2 tea spoon powdered cardammom

brown sugar, wheat (fada), almond-raisin, ghee

Clockwise: brown sugar, wheat (fada), almond-raisin, ghee

I roasted the wheat in ghee for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. You will see the color of the wheat change from pale brown to a reddish brown. This is a good time to add the raisins and almonds. On the side, boil 2 cups of water and add to the wheat mixture. Stir well and cover the pan with lid. Keep the heat low and cook the mixture for about 10 minutes. Stir the mixture a couple of times in between. After 10 mintues you will see that wheat has soaked up  all the water and looks nice and fluffy. Add the sugar, cardammom powder and mix well.  cook for 5 more minutes.

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