Papri Chaat

As she poured melted dalda (shortening) through the metal beaker spout over the flour mix, her wrinkly fingers & eyes from behind the glasses worked in unison. She knew how to ration every drop of flowing oil to get the right texture of her papris to a flaky wafer. Half teaspoon more and you overdo it, one teaspoon less and you have missed the ratios for sure.I have always know indian pastry doughs made by badi mummy (grandmom) as something which were either done perfect or not done at all.

I still shy away from measuring cups & spoons when making doughs, its something I do with pure impulse & feeling. The moment I start measuring,I start to doubt my dough handling skills. There is no fun left in it anymore. A sort of nervousness takes over.Doing it for years now, I now have a feel of just how grainy the oil moistened flour should feel & can decipher what a difference half a teaspoon here & there can make. At the same time it intimidates me how foolproof this indian way of cooking is. Imperfect yet classy in its own way.

Las Vegas is quite a sob story when it comes to chaat. The less I talk about what they serve at indian restaurants in here, the better.I made papri chaat last week to salvage our month long cravings.From halal food stalls in Times Square & food trucks in LA to Toofani chaat corners in Allahabad & kathi roll vendors in Delhi, me & P  share an endless love. Creative, delicious, affordable, addictive, filling ..I fall short of adjectives to describe the street food experience. Its pure joy, a soul satisfying, deep fried haven for us. Whenever I make it at home, I choose to overlook healthy options, its like stealing the soul of chaat – I feel strongly about it.

Chaat’ is a generic word used for savory delicacies served at roadside stalls in India.The best part about indian street food is that it can be made to please all tastebuds- you decide how spicy, tangy, salty or hot you want it. Papri or Papdi are deep fried,wafer like salted discs which are served with a “to taste”  assortment of chickpeas or dried peas, hari (green) & imli (tamarind) chutneys,chopped /grated vegetables, powdered spices & yogurt. Its messy, crumbly, tangy, crunchy..oh so good!

Ingredients

Papri/Papdi  (Yields about 40-50 papris)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sooji (semolina)
  • 1/4 cup atta (all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 3/4 tsp fine salt
  • 2-3 tbsp canola/vegetable oil (see method )
  • 1/3 cup+1 tbsp luke warm water (see method)
  • Oil for frying
Note : Ajwain or Carrom Seeds aid in digestion & add a typical aroma & taste to the dough.
You can skip them if you dont have them & still make the papris.
Assembling a Papri Chaat Platter to Serve 2 :-
  • 12-15 papris 
  • 1/4 cup boiled Chickpeas
  • 1 small potatoes, boiled , peeled & cubed
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt whisked with 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp Imli (Tamarind) Chutney
  • 2 tbsp Hari (Green) Chutney
  • Chopped Onion, cilantro (or veggies of choice)
  • 1/4 tsp Kala Namak (black salt, available at indian stores)
  • 1/4 tsp Chaat Masala (available at indian stores)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • Besan Sev (Chickpea flour snack, available at indian stores, optional)

Method

Making Papris

In a bowl, mix together the flours, ajwain & salt. Start with 2 tbsp of oil  and start working it into the mixture. Keep on adding oil a teaspoon at a time & working it into the flour till you are just able to form a firm ball of the flour between your fingers.

Next, slowly add the water (1/4 cup to start with) and start kneading the dough. We are looking for a firm dough here (not soft & pliable).Knead the dough on a hard surface for about 3-4 minutes.Do not over knead.When just kneaded,the dough will appear tight & hard but don’t worry, after resting it will be okay.

Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth & let rest for at least 20 minutes. (do not skip this step)

Divide the rested dough into about 3 equal parts. Take one part and roll it into a thin sheet.The sheet should be rolled as thin as a cotton cloth. Once rolled, if you want you can prick the sheet with a fork to prevent puffing while frying. I prefer papris slightly puffed so I do not prick. Use a round cookie cutter or a jar lid to cut into round shapes. Transfer the rounds to a plate & place covered with damp cloth till you are about to fry. Gather the remaining dough & repeat rolling & cutting till whole of the dough is exhausted.  Repeat the same for all portions of the dough.

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. The quantity of oil used should be enough to cover the papris completely while they fry. To check the temperature of oil, pinch a little dough & tip it into the heating oil. The dough should sizzle to the top slowly without changing color. If it sizzles immediately, reduce the heat & let the oil temperature come down.

Tip in the cut papris into the heated oil, few at a time. Do not overcrowd or stack the papris in the frying pan. Fry the papris on medium-low heat until both sides are golden brown (about 3-5 minites). Papris should be fried at medium- low heat else they will become soft after cooling.

Remove browned papris with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.Fry all the papris in batches.

Cool completely & immediately store in an air tight container for up to 4 weeks.

For assembling chaat  :-

Layer the papris in a plate. You can crush them into bite size pieces if you want or make individual servings. Top with boiled chickpeas & potatoes.Drizzle with yogurt, chutneys & chopped onions. Sprinkle kala namak, chaat masala, roasted cumin powder & red pepper flakes if using. Top up with chopped cilantro & sev. Serve immediately.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by.

Bajri (Millet) Crackers With Chana Dal dip

A sense of rejuvenation entwines me as I hit the publish button.Being out of touch for more than 4 months, a part of me always felt incomplete,unfulfilled. While I was away, I realized the role of blogging in my life – I missed it. Thank you so much for all your kind emails, tweets & messages. I knew I had to be back in action soon. I am doing better than before & hope to update this space often now.

Last few months have been rough, less of ups, lots of down. Keeping health issues aside, my mind was irrational, loud & restless. I had loads to complain & challenge. I denied the things which came my way, I failed to handle them. Sometimes, life takes its own course and no matter how hard you try to tame it, it does not reciprocate. The very fact that I felt a certain way at that point in my life, I had no choice but to understand that this was meant to be.The sooner I did , the easier it got. The more I questioned : “Why me?”, the difficult it became. There was no force within me that could change the situation, no magic wand or a click of fingers to set it all right, all I  got was inner strength to sail me  through. When faith falters & hopes diminish, its best to reach out for that simmering potential inside to navigate, exactly what I want to do right now.

For long, I wanted to bake crackers at home,or let me put it this way-  I wanted to experiment with savory, whole grain flour baking with an indian touch.I tried the cracker recipe below with a mix of whole wheat & fine wheat flour a couple of times, but it left me wanting for more – something more healthy perhaps? and simple,crispy, spicy too at the same time.Not the most fancy looking crackers around- these are spiced similar to deep fried indian snack – mathri and I think I got what I was looking for this time. Bajri or millet is a gluten free, whole grain widely popular in India to make porridge, flatbreads or pancakes. I did not like it much the first time I ate it but now, its an acquired taste for me especially when I want a break from carbs.

The dip to go along is made with chana (split bengal gram) lentils, which is my new found way to eat them. Rated lowest GI (glycemic index) lentils, these score high when it comes to an earthy, nutty taste.Chana dal yields better amongst lentils to dip-making coz they do not turn into a slimy mush if cooked properly. Easily available in indian stores & tasting similar to garbanzo beans, these lentils are something you would want to stock on.

P,did not care much for the crackers but liked this dip.He polished it off with baked potato chips in the name of healthy food.I found myself snacking on these batch after batch. Somehow the combo is addictive – reminds me of the rajasthani meals at Dilli Haat – bajra roti & masala chana dal.

Yield – About 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine bajri atta (millet flour)
  • 1/2 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp water (or as required for kneading the dough)
Method
Combine all the ingredients except water in a big bowl. Rub with fingers till the mixture resembles grains.
Start adding water slowly & mixing with hands so as to form a soft, pliable dough. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel & let rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 3o0 F / 150 C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Knead the rested dough for 2-3 minutes and pinch into equal portions. Thinly roll out the equal portions on a flour dusted surface or between sheets of parchment.
With the help of fork, pick the rolled dough so that it does not fluff while baking. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into desired shape.
 Transfer to the cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until done & crisp. You will need to check midway & flip the crackers to ensure even baking.
Cool the crackers on a rack and store in air tight containers for upto 2 weeks.
Chana Dal Dip (Makes about 1.5 cups)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chana dal (split bengal grams)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic,chopped
  • 1 ” fresh ginger shoot, chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, chopped (remove seeds to adjust heat)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more to drizzle
Method
 

Soak the chana dal in water for atleast 6 hours or overnight. Pressure cook the dal along with turmeric powder & salt in the soaking liquid on high for 2 whistles. Alternatively you can cook the dal in a pot with lid (for about 40-45 minutes) till tender.

Transfer the cooked & cooled dal to the food processor along with garlic, ginger, cilantro chili & lime juice. Pulse 10-12 times slowly adding oil until smooth. You can further adjust the consistency using the reserved cooking liquid. Check the salt & adjust if required.
Drain & reserve the liquid (this liquid can be used as stock or to knead savory doughs).Let the dal cool to room temperature.
Transfer to the serving bowl, drizzle some olive oil, garnish with chopped cilantro & serve along with bajri crackers.(recipe above)
Store refrigerated in air tight container for  4-5 days.

Note : This recipe has a strong garlic flavor. You can reduce or omit garlic quantity as per your liking.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!