Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Daal Baati Party!

Daal-baati is a staple food item in Rajasthani cuisine. You can also find it featuring in various restaurants and homes in the 'Malwa' region of Madhya Pradesh.

Baatis are small balls of wonder soaked in enormous amount of ghee (clarified butter). If you don't like ghee, baati is not for you! Baati is largely made of wheat flour with addition of another flour in a smaller amount. I have seen them being made with makai (maize) and besan (chickpea) flour. Baatis are normally eaten with daal, where daal preparations vary in every household. Some people make it with panchkuti daal (a mix of 5 lentils), some with a mix of split urad (split black gram) and chana daal (split Bengal gram), some with a mix of tuar (split pigeon pea) and chana daal and many times, with just tuar daal. Similarly, the seasoning varies from a plain tadka (tempering) of ghee, heeng (asafoetida), jeera (cumin) and red chilli powder to a more complex one of the former plus onions, green chillies, tomatoes, garlic, ginger etc.

Accompanying daal baati is normally a dry side. Again numerous possibilities here. But in the various places I have eaten daal-baati, the vegetables used are either potatoes or eggplants or a combination of both. Most common in the marwari households in Indore is sookhe aaloo (potato chunks seasoned with dry spices). Then comes baingan ka bharta (made with fire roasted eggplants). another common side is aloo-baingan ki sabzi (potatoes and eggplants cooked with tomatoes and other spices). A new side that I tried very recently is aloo ka bharta (Indian mashed potatoes if I may).

And then there has to be a platter of pickles and chutneys. Most common being mango or green chilli pickles. Chutneys are normally green chutneys made with cilantro and raw mangoes or lemon juice. The other variety is the fiery garlic and red chillies chutney.

The right way to eat daal baati is using your hands. You are supposed to mash the baati, pour daal over it, add a stream of warm ghee, mix it all and eat with some chutney/pickle and the side sabzi in every morsel.

Now comes my experiences with daal-baati :) We never made it at home! It would be a popular picnic item when cooking was done at the picnic spot. Either a cook who accompanied us or a handful of ladies (and some gentlemen) who were baati experts would be busy preparing the lunch treat. I have clear memories of one such picnic on a field in a small village close to Bhopal. I was a kid at that time and wouldn't have cared less what was for lunch, leave alone how they were making it! So I don't know how they did it without any conveniences of a cozy kitchen!

The next time I had baati after many years was at my dearest friend N's house. Her mom made amazing daal baati, which was always served with oodles of ghee and tons of love. And all the while I was in Indore, she would call me every time she made it :) Those were the days!

And then someone told my dad about a restaurant located in the Cloth Market in Indore. It was called Prithvilok. Now let me tell you what Cloth Market looked like. Cloth market (or Kapda Bazaar) was located in the heart of Indore, a city that was once known for its cloth mills. So it is not hard to imagine the huge trading community in Cloth Market, especially whole-sale. Cloth Market is *always* full of people. To accommodate the cloth merchants who come from all over the country to buy and sell cloth, there were a number of dharamshalas/lodges/hotels in close vicinity. One such lodge was Prithvilok and no marks for guessing that they served food too. The first time we went there was on Sunday afternoon (Cloth Market shops used to be closed on Sunday). We met with a plain facade of a lodge and a long flight of stairs. As we walked up the stairs we saw dormitory like rooms with a good number of beds and people sitting there chatting or lying down. As we went up to the next floor we saw a little lobby leading to the restaurant. And there were rooms at the other end of the lobby. Probably enough to drive people away! But the fact that we were brought there by my father's colleague Mr. A and his insistence on the good quality of the food kept us going. Once we entered the restaurant we were in for a surprise! The restaurant looked nice and new and clean and actually tastefully decorated. Mr. A informed us that it has been renovated over the years. Good :) Now coming to the food, the treat would start with a glass of aam ka panna ( a sweet and tangy raw mango drink) or chach (salted buttermilk) and then followed up with a huge metal thali that a stream of servers would fill even before you could say Thali! There was daal, kadhi, 3-4 vegetables, papads, chutneys, pickles, salads... the usual Indian thali fare. But the fun started when they started bringing in these heavy weight baatis saturated with ghee. These people could continue feeding you forever and ever if you didn't say no! We would always come back with Prithvilok full enough to be sick! :) But it was one amazing place! I don't know if I will even get a chance to visit again. I could still go on about it and this post is already getting way out of limits and I still haven't talked about our own daal-baati party!

So with all those baati experiences it’s not hard to crave for this delicious treat. The first time I had baati in the US was when N visited me in Texas and made her mom proud by making baati for me :) And she did make her mom proud, practically mummy ka naam roshan kiya :) The baatis were so so good, thank you sweetie-pie :)

And then another time was when our marwari friend B treated us to this most amazing daal baati ever! Her recipe was so different, the baatis had a stuffing and the daal was made with split urad. We did not need any sides or any chutneys to go with it! It was just so good!

Several times we have talked about making daal-baati with our friend V (who also happens to be my ex class-mate from Indore). So one Sunday morning (after several failed plans to meet up and make daal-baati), V called his mom in India to get baati recipe. An hour or so later he arrived, armed with the recipe, 2 big eggplants for baingan ka bharta and a jar of ghee :) We set out to make, baatis, daal, baingan ka and aloo ka bharta.

THE BAATIS
Ingredients (for about 15 baatis)-
1. 3 cups whole wheat flour.
2. 1.5 cup chickpea flour (besan).
3. 8 tbsp or so of clarified butter (ghee).
4. Salt to taste.
5. 1.5 tsp baking soda.
6. water to knead.

Method -
Sieve everything except ghee together. Add ghee to the flour gradually, rubbing with your hand. Once all the ghee is mixed, gradually add water and knead as you would do for rotis. The dough has to be firmer than that of roti, more like parathas I would say. The ghee measurement I have given here is approximate. The point is to have enough ghee (yes you have to be a braveheart!) to make a smooth dough. Set the dough aside for 15-30 minutes and then form small golf sized balls with it. Sweet R did this for us, every baati was exactly the same size! :) This being our first attempt at baati, we did not dare try bigger baatis. We were worried they might stay uncooked at the core.

Now preheat your oven to 300 deg F. Grease a baking sheet and place the baatis over it. Bake for about 10-15 minutes (again approximate) I didn't look for the time as I was busy doing other things meanwhile. Sorry! When they start looking cooked, turn them over and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Keep checking back (since I was stupid enough to not note the baking time!) :D
Our baatis cracked on the top! I don't know why, may be my dough did not have enough water! But they tasted great anyways so we didn't mind. When the baatis are done, heat ghee in a sauce pan and dip each baati in it. I remember B had deep fried the baatis in hot ghee before serving.

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DAAL
Daal this time for us was made with an interesting mix. R had some mixed urad-tuar left over from dinner last night and I had some tuar daal in my freezer. So here's what we did.

1. Heat ghee, add mustard and cumin seeds followed by heeng and curry leaves.
2. Add grated ginger and chopped onions. Sauté till onions are soft.
3. Add chopped tomatoes and slit green chillies and cook till tomatoes are soft and blend with the onions.
4. Now add red chilli powder and turmeric.
5. Add R's (already very tasty) and my thawed tuar daal. Add salt if needed and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Add fresh cilantro when done.

You can use any combination of daals with this tadka. Most common combos are chana and tuar and chana-urad-tuar.

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BAINGAN KA BHARTA
Ingredients (serves 4):
1. 2 large eggplants (the roasting variety)
2. 1 cup chopped onions.
3. 1 cup chopped tomatoes.
4. 2 chopped green chillies.
5. Oil to cook
6. salt and red chilli powder to taste.

Method:
1. Roast the eggplants. You can do this in your oven or on the stove top. I placed a perforated grill plate on the stove (at medium heat) and placed the eggplants over it. As the skin begins to char, keep rotating the eggplants to cook uniformly. This will take about 20 minutes (more in the oven, but oven is less messy and roasting is more uniform. Make sure all doors and windows are open or your home will smell like a roasted eggplant for 3 days! Lighting a candle helps :)
2. When eggplants are thoroughly cooked (insert a knife and make sure it goes all the way in easily), immerse them in cold water.
3. Ad they cool down, remove the skin with your hands and give a quick wash to the eggplant insides. mash into a pulp.
4. Heat oil (about 1.5 tbsp), add onions and sauté. After 2 minutes or so add tomatoes and green chillies. Again sauté for 2 minutes.
5. Now add the eggplant pulp, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well and suate for 5 minutes.
6. Let the bharta cook till oil separates (my oil never separated! although I did put in a lot of it!)
7. Add chopped spring onions/cilantro or both for garnishing.

You can always add garlic or other spices of your choice. I just did what my mom does :) and I just love her bharta . You can also add green peas with the eggplant pulp. I didn't do it this time, I had a feeling peas will break the smooth texture of the bharta needed to go with the baatis.

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ALOO KA BHARTA
(serves 4)
1. Boil and peel 4 medium potatoes.
2. Add salt to taste and mash.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil, add mustard seeds and 2 finely chopped green chillies.
5. As mustard begins to splutter, add heeng and curry leaves.
6. Turn off the flame, wait for a minute and then add 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder.
7. Add this tempering to the mashed potatoes and mix well. I heated the potatoes while mixing the tempering.
8. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice to taste.
9. Garnish with cilantro and desiccated coconut (R's idea :))

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LAHSUN KI CHUTNEY (Garlic chutney)
1. We used maharashtrian peanut chutney as base for this chutney.
2. Heat oil, add 4-5 roughly chopped cloves of garlic and let them turn golden. Add 2 dry red whole chillies. Mix in the peanut chutney.
3. let cool and grind to a fine paste with salt and a little lime juice.

If you don't have peanut chutney handy, use roasted peanuts, cumin seeds and increase the amount of red chillies.

I think that is it!

We then spread out a table cloth on the floor. We had to eat our baatis right! Where sitting on the floor, cross-legged and eating with our hands is the RIGHT way :)

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This is what my plate looked like (Clockwise - red chilli pickle, baingan bharta, aloo ka bharta, chopped onions, lahsun ki chutney and crushed baati topped with daal). We refrained from adding extra ghee but that would be the right RIGHT way to eat your baatis :)
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25 comments:

Tee said...

mouth watering!!!! i am bookmarking this...have been looking for daal baati recipe for so long :)

bee said...

wow, what a wonderful virutal trip to indore.

for grilling eggplant, cut it in half, put it the two halves cut side down on a greased foil over a baking sheet, and broil for 20 minutes fr a medium-lage one, or 12-15 minutes for a small one (until the skin begins to char).

bindiya said...

Amazing that you made all of this ,lovely recipes, really they look soooo delicious!

Mansi Desai said...

You made all that alone!! wow, that's quite a spread Shweta!! I loved the batis:)

first time here, and nice to know you are in SD..I lives in LA for some time and visited SD often..still have friends there!:)

I'd like to invite you to participate in AFAM-pEach event hosted at my blog...

musical said...

Daal baati with mirchi athana is bliss! And those bhartas are yummy! Send some over, sweetie :).

hugs,
musical.

Padmaja said...

Hey Swetha!!! thats a feast my dear!!!i love dhaal bhati, took the recipe from one of my rajsthani friend and made couple of time but not lately, after looking at your amazing pictures i feel like making again, thanks for inspiring

Rajitha said...

what a spread girl...i looove dal-baati...actually i had it the first time in Indore too...cannot remem the place..it was soo yummy! thnks for the great recipes

Dhana said...

This is not fair...There are days I actually draem if daal bhatti and here you have this amazing post!!!!

TBC said...

Beautiful spread. I like your dal & the color of the potato sabji is beautiful.

Happy cook said...

Wow i don't know which dish is the best as all of them looks super delicioous

Priya said...

have always wanted a dhal - baati recipe..this looks very tasty..

musical said...

Hey Shweta, you just got tagged. Check it out at my kitchen :).

Richa said...

wow! what a parade of yummy food :)
loved all the dishes, now only if someone would make it for me ;)

Asha said...

Beautiful!! Great combination of food girl, excellent!:)

Kumudha said...

Wow! so many wonderful dishes!

Daal baati is new to me. Thanks for the traditional north indian recipes.

Shweta said...

Tee, Thank you! Hope you try it out someday :)

Bee, Thanks Bee! The post took me too down the memory lane :) Thanks for the great tip. Will use it the next time I make bharta.

Bindiya, Thanks :) I had my friend R to help :) And even we were so glad the baatis didnt turn out to be hard!

Mansi, Thank you for dropping by :) I couldn't have made that spread alone! My friend R helped, the sweet sweet girl she is. Oh! we could've been neighbors! Just missed each other didn't we? :) I will try my best to participate in AFAM-Peach!

Ms. Musical, Do you speak gujarati too? Or does 'athana' feature in some other language? Why don't you come over for baatis? And bring along some of your yummy chutneys!! :D I can't get that peach chutney out of my head yet! And thanks for tagging me, you'll see the meme soon :)

Padmaja, Thanks!! I look forward to a daal-baati post on your blog then! I am glad you enjoyed the post :) I am quite sure your recipe is more authentic than mine!

Rajitha, you've been to Indore?? How cool is that! And you've had daal baati there? How ultra cool is that!! :)

Dhana, Thank you for dropping by! I know what that feels like, I go crazy looking at food-blogs especially when I find something I am craving for!! Get together with a friend and make daal bati, it wd be so much fun! :)

TBC, Thanks :) Yea the potato bharta pics came out really nice. I got lucky with the amount of turmeric I used in the tadka :D

Happy Cook, Thank you!! All these dishes compliment each other! I don't know what one would be like without the other! :)

Shweta said...

Richa, Thanks dear. We can make all of it together, now how does that sound? :)

Ashaji, Thanks :) Some combinations are just born to make people happy, this probably is one of those :)

Kumudha, Thank you for your sweet words :) I am happy to introduce you to something new!

Vee said...

The rajasthani feast looks really good and tempting. It's been a long time since I had some some good ol' marwari food. Looks like quite a party!

A kitchen scientist & a white rat hubby!!! said...

Hi there, first time here..nice spread!

musical said...

Shweta,

Hey, how are you doing, dear? Do lemme know.

musical said...

Shweta:

Thanks for writing back! take care, dear!

hugs,
musical.

Parthiv said...

Hey wify honey... no posts since a long time ... i fill my stomach reading your blog at work ... post something new.. I am hungry

Richa said...

hey, how r things your side ???

VegeYum @ A Life (Time) of Cookin said...

What a scrumptious looking meal! It must have been amazing. Thanks for sharing with us.

AMIT said...

Daal Baati is my favourite but i have not eated since long.

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