To say that Theplas are a favourite snack in Gujarati homes would be an understatement they are a staple. They are so easy to carry along and such favourites that Gujaratis might probably forget their medication at home but not theplas. I probably don’t need to describe them in detail, but for those who are unacquainted with Indian cuisine, Theplas are flatbreads made from a dough consisting of finely chopped or shredded vegetables ( mostly greens like fenugreek or spinach ), whole wheat flour and spices.
Winter is here and so is the craving to eat deep fried, rich and indulgent winter fare. While that is a little tricky balance to achieve, I have slowly started making curries and daals which go with the mood. I have started making curries like Shalgam Matar or Gajar Matar and have been loving more earthier daals like Maah ki Daal (Urad/Black lentils). While it is believed that Urad Daal is more difficult to digest owing to its high protein content, so moms all over the India advise indulging in recipes involving black lentils once the mercury starts to dip. And for good measure, they also add a strong aromatic tempering of ginger and garlic, which along with aiding in the digestion, lend a lovely flavour and aroma to it.
I am pretty sure Dhoklas need no introduction. There are numerous versions of Dhoklas. Khatta Dhokla ( made of rice and Urad Daal ) is easily distinguishable from the Khaman because of the colour and composition. While the Instant Nylon Khaman ( made with Besan/Chickpea flour and eno/cooking soda ) is immensely popular among folks, popular even among folks even outside Gujarat, we South Gujaratis ( especially folks from in and around Surat ), favour the overnight fermented version much more over the instant ones. Vaati Daal Na Khaman is distinct from the Nylon Khaman in the sense that they are made of Chana Daal, that has been soaked, ground and fermented overnight and does not have any soda or citric acid in the batter, at least my version doesn’t. It is dense and crumbly at the same time unlike the soda-induced sponginess of Nylon Khaman. The ground batter is then spiced with ginger chilli paste, turmeric powder, lemon juice and salt. Instant / Nylon Khaman has a slight aftertaste of cooking/baking soda which puts me off personally.
Growing up, Paneer Butter Masala was my favourite thing to order in restaurants. The oily, creamer texture was something never made in homes for obvious reasons, so naturally, that is what I wanted to eat then. Fast forward to the present and I like spicier curries, not necessarily heavy on garam masala, but with more flavours than just cream, tomato and sugar. But Indian restaurants are a funny phenomenon if you ask me: every restaurant will serve a Kadhai Paneer or a Paneer Butter Masala, that is different from the next one in colour or in texture or in taste, or if your luck is particularly worse on that day, all of the above. So, now my bench mark for North Indian gravies is set on on a particularly nondescript place in Hyderabad, rather than what the high-end restaurants serve. For the brief spell of eight months that I stayed in Hyderabad as a newly wed, I had a chance to eat a tiny, 2 room eatery called Delhi 39. It had exactly 4 tables and 16 chairs and nothing else, so I guess I don’t have to explain the ambience. But
For the brief spell of eight months that I stayed in Hyderabad as a newly wed, I had a chance to eat a tiny, 2 room eatery called Delhi 39. It had exactly 4 tables and 16 chairs and nothing else, so I guess I don’t have to explain the ambience. But food was amazing, the fulkas ( sorry, no tandoori bread here ) as soft and round and puffy as home made, the curries tasted like they were from a North Indian friends Lunch box ( Rajma was sublime and paneer curries are the best I have tasted!! ) and the paranthas, simply the best paranthas ever. The curries were priced between 45-65 rupees, ( not kidding!! ) and well, that is what I want now whenever I feel like eating north Indian fare. Sadly we moved to Bangalore then, and even the famed Manjit da Dhaba hasn’t been able to match that.
Muthiyas are a Gujarati snack made from fresh seasonal vegetables and a mix of several flours, that is made into a dough, shaped into logs, steamed and then deep fried or tempered in some oil to give it a crisp texture on the outside and a soft, melt in the mouth center. Mutthi ( મુઠ્ઠી ) translated from Gujarati means a fist, and hence the nomenclature since traditionally, Muthiyas are shaped by shaping the dough into fistfuls. It is not compulsory though, I usually divide the dough into 3-4 portions, each much larger than a fist before steaming them. Once they cool down, I cut them into bite sized chunks and shallow fry them to give them a crisp crust.
Shrikhand is a dessert made from strained curd/yoghurt which is sweetened with powdered sugar, some cardamom and saffron along with other flavourings of choice. It is a pretty easy dessert to make, and the only tough part is to strain the curd removing all the whey to get thick, almost solid hung curd which is called Chakka. I usually set full cream milk to make curd at home, but if not you can use store bought thick curd to make the same.
If you have ever been a part of a wedding in North India, I am pretty sure you know, and you love Moong Daal Halwa. It is a popular Rajasthani dessert/sweetmeat made by roasting soaked and ground moong ( split and skinless green gram ) in ghee until golden and sweetening it with sugar, cooking it until it is of a thick, luscious consistency. Naturally, its high calorific value makes it a little too heavy to be consumed in warm weather, but it is the perfect treat for cold, windy nights when all you crave is something that warms you up right from the inside.