Saturday, January 12, 2013

Daily Dinner (15): Rajasthani Thali

There were times when my mom categorically, adamantly, insisted that her children never inherited any form of "Rajasthani-ness" from her.  When she was really mad, she'd use her limited vocabulary of the Haryanvi dialect to announce that we were all born Haryanvis (there is that subtle underlying disdain in my soft-spoken, Rajasthani part of the family for my loud and boisterous paternal family.......). That is when dad would point out "pointedly" that she technically herself was a true-blood Haryanvi; and that her Rajasthani-ness was just an effect of her being transplanted there as a baby. And all of this drama, because we three criticized her most cherished meal of Rajasthani Baatis as...well...dirty....

But let me back track a little bit here.  So the way baatis were cooked in my grandma's home in Rajasthan was in a chulha - a little area on the kitchen floor outlined on 3 sides by a clay wall about 6 inches high. Naani used pieces of wood in here to create a cooking stove.  More often than not, the high temperature required for the first spark of flame to burst out of wood was achieved using uplay underneath the wood.  These little sun-dried cakes of sawdust and (please ignore the grossness that follows) cow dung smolder, rather than flame, and reach temperatures high enough to light up the kitchen fires for a long time.  And baatis were buried deep underneath inside the chulha to cook. You just brought them out, dusted them off, and ate them with the inevitable daal, churma and ladles of ghee.  Us city dwellers, instead,  turned our noses up at Naani and her "dirty" baatis, and opted for rotis instead.

My mom, in Delhi, did away with the uplay bit. But she still buried her baatis under the smoldering coal on the floor of an angeethi. And even after you dusted off the ash, there was this smokiness to the baatis that we kids never liked; and my germ-phobic dad never even tried.  Hence....the Rajasthan vs. Haryana conflict......

Now, the me vs. Baati part- obviously, I never really learnt to eat, forget cook, baatis.  So when when a very good friend with roots in Rajasthan (remember her from the Badam Halwa incident?) offered to make a daal-baati lunch during our visit with her; I had absolutely no heart to break the news of my dislike to her. Which is good news, because thanks to her, not only did I learn how to make baatis  the "clean way" in an oven, but also have enjoyed seeing A (and myself) fall in love with this very traditional Rajasthani Thali.

A Traditional Rajasthani Meal

Daal: I am used to a Urad-chane ki daal. Maybe there is another one that goes, but this was the one we always had in our home with Baati.
Split Urad daal 1 measure
Chana daal 1 measure
Water 3 measures
Salt and red chilli powder to taste
Chopped tomato 1 medium sized (optional)

Oil 1 Tbsp
Cumin seeds/ Jeera 1tsp
Hing/ Asafoetidia 1 pinch

To serve: A squeeze of lemon juice.

  1. Thoroughly pick and clean the lentils.Wash them a few times in cold water. 
  2. I use a pressure cooker to cook them - Add the everything together in the cooker and let it cook for about 15 min. of medium-high.
  3. Heat oil in another pan, splutter the cumin, add hing and quickly pour it into the daal.
  4. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice on top.
Baati: Think of them as unrolled rotis, baked at high temperatures to get a hard, yet crispy, lump of dough.
Atta/ Whole wheat flour 1 cup
Salt a pinch
Oil 2 generous Tbsp; plus more to brush the baatis.
Baking powder 1tsp
Ajwain/carom seeds 1 generous tsp
Water as needed
  1.   Mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Make a well in the center, pour in the oil, the mix in the flour to get a dough resembling small crumbs.
  3. Use water as needed to get a soft dough. Let rest for 10 min.
  4. Break off small pieces the size of a golf ball, flatten them between your palms. Brush generously with oil.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 500F till golden brown and done.
  6. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.
To serve: Break open a baati in two; dollop a generous amount of ghee on them, and serve with Daal.

Churma: Rotis, sugar and ghee is all that's needed. Crush them all together in a food processor, again with generous amounts of ghee. Sugar is to taste. And you dessert on the side is ready.

My two cents: I've always loved this churma. My mom made it at the drop of the hat, whenever we kids asked for it. She used her hands to crush and crumble everything together.  This definitely is the quicker version - the more traditional one uses baatis deep-fried in ghee to make it. But somehow, I liked this one better. Daal as I've made here, was a staple in my house. And finally Baati- one I got rid of  my childish moron-ness and actually tried it, I loved it. Now A and my girls eat them too. So mommy, I'm finally reclaiming my Rajasthani-ness....

Linked to Walk through the memory Lane at Gaythri's
                Bake Fest # 15 at Sumee's, announced by Vardhini