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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Methi Missi Roti & Aloo Tamatar

We will move to the land of parathas and paneer today - the north Indian state of Punjab. The word "Punjab" literally means the five rivers. The rivers referred here are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas (Byas/Vyas) that happen to be the tributaries of the Indus river. Punjab has a long history dating to prehistoric times. One of the four earliest known civilizations of the world, the Harappan was located in the Punjab region (which happens to be a part of Pakistan now). The epic battle of Mahabharata was fought in historic Punjab or modern day Haryana. I got to visit Punjab and Haryana last summer when I visited India and even saw the tree where Lord Krishna supposedly gave geethopadesh to Arjuna in Kurukshetra. I did not have the energy to look for the pictures or could have uploaded some of them today. May be I will do on a later date.

Thanks to dabhas and Indian restaurants worldwide, Punjabi cuisine has become synonymous to the north Indian cuisine. It is another thing that fat laden restaurants' menu doesn't represent true Punjabi home style cooking. Some of the popular dishes of the region are
* The combo of makki di roti (unleavened corn flour flat breads) and sarson da saag (mustard greens gravy)
* Tandoori oven based kulchas/ naans
* Rotis and parathas with various stuffings
* Paneer based curries
* Rajma (kidney beans gravy curry) - Chawal combo
* Chole (chickpea curry) - Bhature
* Dal makhni (Creamy, buttery curry made with kidney beans and blackgram)
* Kadhi pakora (chickpeaflour fritters in spicy yogurt gravy)
* Samosas
* Sweets like gajar ka halwa (sweet carrot pudding) and phirni 
I always associated the word "dabha" to the road side eateries in the rustic and basic settings until my recent visit to Punjab. I was surprised to notice that even the beautiful and spacious restaurants (located along the highways) with elegant settings that serve yummy food for a fortune are attached with the suffix "dhaba". Our friends' daughter was mentioning that they add the word "dhaba" more out of a habit and to make it catchy. The one food that my kids and I enjoyed most was the Amritsari kulchas that we ate in a small restaurant in Amritsar and we literally hated the sweet lassi though I love the sweet nannari lassi, it is an acquired taste I guess.

I wanted to try Amritsari kulchas for this marathon but was not sure whether I could create the same magic in my kitchen and gave up the idea. Instead went with these methi missi rotis found in Sanjeev Kapoor's website. I always thought that besan was used in a small proportion but instead it turns out that these rotis are basically made with besan and a small portion of wheat flour is used. Add water little by little while preparing the dough or else would end up with a sticky dough. If one is preparing rotis for the first time, then these are not the perfect candidates for the trial, in my humble opinion. These are kind of homely, rustic rotis and it is hard to achieve the smooth edges as the regular wheat rotis because of the besan used in the recipe.   
Ingredients: (About 10 rotis)
2 cups besan / chickpea flour
1/2 cup wheat flour + extra for dusting
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 cups roughly minced fresh fenugreek leaves / methi leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp anardana / dried pomegranate seeds
8 - 10 peppercorns
Oil & butter for cooking
Chaat masala

* Dry roast coriander seeds, anardana and peppercorns in pan. Let them cool and grind them fine.
* Combine the flours, turmeric , salt and the ground masala in a mixing bowl. Next add methi, onion and chillies to the bowl. Knead into a dough using water as needed. Just make a note that very little water is needed for this besan based roti. A little extra would make the dough sticky. I added a tbsp of oil as well.

* Divide the dough into equal portions and roll them into small lime sized balls. (Probably you will have around 8 - 10 balls.)
* Dust each ball with flour and roll into a thin disc.
* Mean while, heat a tawa / shallow pan on medium flame. Place the disc on the hot tawa and cook. When little bubbles start to appear, flip and apply 1/2 tsp of butter / oil around the edges. Flip again and cook while turning sides, until evenly golden on both sides of the roti. Transfer the roti onto a serving plate and sprinkle some chaat masala on it. I skipped this step. 
* Repeat the steps of rolling and frying with the remaining dough.
* Serve the rotis hot with a vegetable side dish of your choice or some pickle and yogurt.
I served these rotis with chole and a Punjabi style aloo tamatar curry. I found the aloo-tamatar in a cookbook  and surprisingly the recipe didn't contain the mandatory stuff found in the most north Indian curries - onion, garlic, ginger or garam masala and that is the reason I tried it. The recipe mentions one potato and 4 tomatoes which is a disaster in my opinion. I eat tomatoes but that quantity of tomatoes gave the curry an intense flavor which we really hated and I had to fix it by adding more veggies. I just used the ingredients mentioned but went with the quantity that worked for us.

Heat 1 tbsp mustard oil in a pan and add 2 dry red chillies, 1 tsp coriander seeds and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir fry for a minute and then add 2 chopped tomatoes, 1/8 tsp turmeric and cook until they turn mushy. Add potato cubes cut from 2 potatoes, 2 green chillies, sliced lengthwise, chili powder to taste, salt and about 1 cup of water. Cook until the potatoes are soft and the sauce is thick. Garnish with coriander leaves.


Tahemeem said...

Love the colors and clicks.. yumm!!!

The Pumpkin Farm said...

beautiful combination, i love missi roti personally.

Priya Suresh said...

Very beautiful platter there, methi missi roti and aloo tamatar both looks terrific, cant stop drooling myself here.

Unknown said...

It has come out well ! Just a small tip, Missi rotis are usually made thicker than the usual rotis. Since its harder to roll them, its usually tapped between the palms.. just like you do with thali peeth etc. But nevertheless, they look lovely :)

Varada's Kitchen said...

So true, Dhabas are everywhere. There is one on the Texas-New Mexico border!

The missi roti has turned out great with smooth edges. Addition of methi is interesting.

Some dishes just don't work out unless modified to our tastes.

Suma Gandlur said...

Thanks for the tip, Nupur. I guessed that going by the images at Mr.Kapoor's website. I was just not sure whether my people would prefer thick rotis and so rolled out thin.

Unknown said...

that is so flavorful... love the color combo of yellow and methi.. so beautiful...

Harini R said...

Same pinch, Suma. I tried the version from my punjabi friend's kitchen and my kids were happy. The pictures look lovely.

Srivalli said...

I love missi rotis and with methis it looks amazing...and the side dishes are so inviting..yea Dhabbas are found even in cities here..:)

Pavani said...

Love the addition of methi to missi roti. The whole plate looks very inviting.

Usha said...

Love the addition of methi to missi roti. Roties are very inviting and love the color of the roti. Aloo tamatar, chole and yogurt along with the roti looks quite filling. Although you had to fix the alo tamatar curry, that bowl looks very inviting.

Nalini's Kitchen said...

Flavorful missi roti,addition of methi makes it much more delicious and flavorful,perfect with the aloo tamatar curry..

Chef Mireille said...

roti looks so colorful and can enjoy this whole platter

Padmajha said...

The roti has come out very well Suma.And the whole platter is mighty tempting :)

Archana said...

I love missi roti. The addition of methi makes it so very delicious and aloo tamatar! Wow!

jayanthi said...

nice combo of dishes. missi roti has been on my to-do list for a long time now..

vaishali sabnani said...

The platter looks great and the missi roti is actually a star in Punjabi food..we simply love this and methi adds a super special touch to it.