Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Recipe of the month: Bhatura


I have a culinary confession to make. Actually, it is something I wasn't privy to until a few days ago. For all the cooking I've done in my life - I have never once made bhatura in my kitchen! I find that astounding considering how many times I have savoured this Indian street-food staple. 

Growing up, Channa Bhatura/Chole Bhature is something I would frequently order at restaurants/canteens/food joints. Me and my siblings never got to eat this at home since my mom would make whole wheat pooris instead to go with channa/chole. In addition to the kind of flour used, the bhatura recipe is quite different than the standard poori recipe in that the dough is made with a leavening agents such as baking powder, yoghurt and yeast or cooking soda.

Bhatura is more common to North Indian (particularly Punjabi) households where it is served for breakfast or brunch. But the popularity of this dish has extended across India and overseas as well making it well recognized by Indians and Indian food-lovers alike.

Bhatura evokes a deep sense of nostalgia for me. Catching sight on the balloon-sized piping hot puffy bhatura and inhaling the intoxicating aroma of the chickpea curry is enough to send my taste buds into a frenzy and stimulate the salivary glands. It is the combination of the tender flaky flatbread and the exotic spice-infused chickpea side dish which is hard to resist. This dish is delicious, moreish and will lull you into a deep slumber after you are done with it! If you have never tasted channa bhatura before, you are truly missing out.


Bhatura is made from refined flour and involves deep-frying so obviously, it has to taste fabulous right?! But on the flip side, packed with calories and saturated fats, this Punjabi bad boy has the potential to take your bad cholesterol to an all-time high. It could also cause you acidity, bloating and heartburn. But that doesn't stop people from getting their bhatura-fix. I'd say the reason is usually deep-rooted in one's childhood. See the thing is, when you are a skinny little Indian kid and crave bhatura with all your heart, your mom is unlikely to tell you about its artery clogging potential. Especially if it only a once in a while indulgence. 'You like it? You eat it' used to be the simple mantra back in the day. And c'mon, who doesn't like channa bhatura right? You would have to be mad not to 😝

So, keeping all the above in mind, I have decided to not deprive my kids of the chance to try this lip-smacking universal favourite. Moreover, considering how homemade is infinitely better than eating at questionable street vendors or seedy dhabas, I don't think it is such big a deal. Of course, in keeping with modern times where people are more conscious of what they eat and developing good eating habits from an early age is important, I will be sure to let my kids know when to keep certain guilty pleasures to a minimum and channa bhatura will definitely be one of them. Probably making it for them twice or thrice a year should be acceptable 😁


What I would say to anyone who wants to make this dish at home is - use good and fresh ingredients, fresh oil, avoid getting the oil to point that it is smoking (but remember it should still be hot), use paper towels to absorb the excess oil from the bhatura and please, do not reuse that oil after you are done. Also, it would be a good idea to make bhatura for breakfast or brunch so you have the rest of the day to at least attempt to burn off the unspeakable amount of calories! 😆

Bhatura and channa/chole are made for each other so that is your best bet for a side dish. With the chole, it is always preferable to use dried chickpeas and soak + cook them yourself compared to using canned chickpeas. Freshly cooked chickpeas are richer, fuller and meatier than their canned cousins with a texture that is infinitely creamier. In addition, they are BPA-free, more cost effective, and contain less sodium. It is worth putting in the effort to cook the chickpeas from scratch for the chole since it is the star of the show (although I admittedly take the short cut and go the canned route many times!). I have a fabulous recipe for Punjabi Chole on the blog which you can find here and if you minimize the amount of oil that you use, it can actually work out to be a delicious and protein-packed side dish.

Serve the bhatura with sliced red onions, lime wedges, pickle and cooling yoghurt for a gastronomic experience that is nothing short of sheer bliss!

Oh and you're welcome  😊

Bhatura

Preparation time: 2hr 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Serves: 4
Recipe category: Main Course/North Indian
Recipe level: Easy

Ingredients:
1 cup = 250 ml

3 cups maida/plain flour
1.5 tbsp fine rava/chiroti rava
1.5 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cooking soda
Salt to taste
3 tsp oil
1.5 cup curd/yogurt

Other ingredients:
1 small bowl maida/plain flour for dusting
Vegetable oil for deep frying

Recipe for Punjabi Chole here

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl take maida.

2. To that add chiroti rava, sugar, salt, baking powder and cooking soda. Mix well.

3. Add oil rub into the flour.


4. Add the yoghurt and start to knead dough for at least 5 minutes. 

5. Grease the dough with a few more drops of oil.


6. Cover with moist cloth and rest in a warm place for at least 2 hours.



7. Dust your hands with flour and pinch the dough into lime sized balls. Roll the ball well between your palms dusting with flour when necessary.

8. Roll the ball uniformly into a circle using a rolling pin. It should neither be too thin nor too thick.


9. Heat oil in a kadai. When the oil is sufficiently hot (but not smoking), add one bhatura into the oil, press gently so it is immersed into the oil and once the bhatura begins to puff, splash oil over it until it puffs up completely.


10. Flip over and fry the bhatura till lightly brown all over.


11. Drain the bhatura onto tissue paper to remove excess oil. Continue to fry all the bhaturas the same way.

12. Serve the bhatura immediately with punjabi chole garnished with onion rings and lime wedges on the side.



Notes:
  • Knead the bhatura dough well
  • You will need to let the dough rest for best results
  • If the dough is sticky when you are making a ball and trying to roll it, generously dust with flour
  • Let the oil be sufficiently hot before you start deep-frying but don't get it to a point that it is smoking
  • Try to dust off as much as flour as possible before you put the rolled out dough into the oil as it turns the oil black


Cheers,
Megha


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