south indian

Bobbatlu – Pooranpoli – Lentil Stuffed Sweet Roti

Diwali is the festival of lights , an occasion to celebrate the triumph of the good over evil. It is an auspicious day when one would try and please ….well pray to the goddess of wealth ‘Laxmi Devi’ .  Traders and businessmen celebrate Diwali by having  huge prayers at their place of work, give bonuses to the employees and distribute sweets to everyone you know. They organise parties , exchange gifts, lots of sweets and dry fruits. I remember the day after Diwali , we would be sitting there staring at fruit baskets, sweet boxes and dry fruits in addition to the cooked treats from the neighbours and friends not knowing what to do with all the food. But the women folk always had a plan , fruit salad for breakfast , smoothies and dry fruit laddus and  sweets sometimes have been recycled …oops!! There I go spilling the family secret J  . It was crazy looking at my mom running towards us when you are just about to open a new packet of sweets to stop ..I am actually chuckling while I am writing this ,  but looking back she had a point , what would you do with 20 packets of sweets which  you know won’t last more than a week. But as kids , we always want one sweet from a gift box, another sweet from a different gift box and never finish the whole thing. It’s basically the thrill of unwrapping and opening the gifts. Adding to that , we ourselves end up cooking so much at home, stocking up savoury and sweet meats weeks ahead of Diwali.

On the day though, you ought to cook at least seven different things as an offering to the goddess laxmi. This is where the home chefs want to get creative and strive and plan to cook something that different and unique to impress the friends. We usually did well at this task at ours but there has to be one thing that is to be made repeatedly in the name of tradition and for you to carry forward. We have the pooranpoli or Bobattlu, in our case as a must for Diwali. Now, I am not that keen on deserts and sweets but this is quite different. It is almost like a sweet parata , so the carb element in it does enough for me to keep making it again and again. The pooranpoli and bobbatu are very similar while the former is a north Indian version , the latter is a south Indian version. The cooking method and seasoning does vary from region to region. I personally prefer the south indian version , because its more luxurious and made with plain flour whereas most pooranpolis are made using wheat flour. So , while six of the dishes are cooked , offered to god and enjoyed by afternoon , we have to wait for these bobattlu till evening. Reason being, the dough needs to soak in oil for at least four hours …..yes, immersed in oil until its absorbs some of it. Now, you know why I called it luxurious 🙂 . So , the usuall practice is get out of the house and start on some lightweight fireworks, come back to eat bobabbtlu, sit there with a cranky dog petrified of the loud crackers and bombs. Poor thing , it used be exhausted at the end of the day. The crackers , bombs keep going off till really late. We used to take turns , lock ourselves up in a room and keep ‘Nancy’ (our dog) distracted  in our laps most of the time to calm it down. Fireworks  are fine but , the 1000 wala , 2000 wala 5000 walas , which are literally 1000 small bombs tied together  are just too much …how can one gain pleasure putting the labyrinths through that sort of sound, is beyond my understanding. As they say  there are always some things that can change and this is one of the things that should definitely change with Diwali. Well , along with the green movement ,  cleanliness movement, a lot of awareness towards a responsible Diwali has been promoted both by Ngo’s, private sectors and government and hopefully we will see some change soon.

Staying back home all night , means us chomping on more and more bobattlu . As I said I am not a big fan of sweets , so I used to ask for just the paratha  without the filling or with very little filling. My brother used to love the filling (I think he still does) so he used take away balls of the sweet lentil filling to munch on. Worked out perfectly with no fights and arguments for a change. I started making them for every Diwali in my kitchen as well and again my son just loves the paratha  J …just like me J . They can seem a bit tricky at first but as you make them , you will get used to it as with anything else and you will get the hand of it. Give this recipe a try and enjoy the bobattlu my family style, especially if you have tried the north Indian version of them and let me know what you think of them .

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You will need :

500gms Plain ( Maida)

650gms Yellow split lentils (Chana dal)

200gms Sugar

1 tsp. Cardamom powder

500ml groundnut oil

Pinch of salt

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Bobbatlu – Pooranpoli

Method:

Make a soft dough with the plain flour adding a pinch of salt and one tablespoon sugar.

Soak this dough in a bowl of oil ( Fully immersed ) for at least 4 hrs and keep aside.

Meanwhile boil the lentils in a pressure cooker and make a nice paste of it. Add the remaining sugar, cardamom powder and mix well, try and keep this thick with no added water. You should be able to make balls and handle it to shape the roti’s. Keep aside until you are ready to make the Bobbatlu.

When you are ready, divide the dough and the lentils mix in equal balls . Take a clear plastic sheet, smother some oil on it and flatten the ball of dough with your fingers to form a small roti .

Place a lentil mix ball on top of the dough and seal the lentils mix with the dough from all sides and make a parcel. Now press to make a roti with your fingers.

On a pan cook the roti with more oil if required on both the sides till it’s done. The lentils are already cooked so you don’t need to worry about the inside bits being cooked.

Enjoy hot Bobbatlu with desi ghee …Ah …the aroma is to die for !!

Some pointers :

You can make with whole wheat aswell , equally tasty and this definitely can be made without soaking it in oil , they just won’t be as indulgent.

For a clear sheet , I usually use the liners which in between frozen paratha’s , works perfectly. Or, you can shape the rotis on the back of an oiled plate.

Cardamom is optional, but it does add a lot of flavour !

Serving the bobbatlu with ghee takes the dish to a new level so try not to miss it J

I make cupcakes with the bobabbtlu/pooranpoli flavours and they are quiet good. So if you have some lentils mix left over after making these for Diwali , head over to my pooranpoli Cupcake post and make some delicious fusion cupcakes !!

Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani and a tribute to my Grandpa

If you set the scene back to 90’s and walk into our house in Hyderabad you will find a bunch of kids and adults at the dinning table getting ready to eat. Observe closely and you will see everyone on the table including the adults, are nervous as if they were in a very serious game show. The last person to join the table is an elderly man in his white Kurta pyjama, with a television remote in his hand and a bottle of buttermilk. As he settles at the table, he maintains his stern look but does not make eye contact with anyone. The food is served and everyone is trying hard to focus on their meal, eat quickly and escape whatever is going to happen soon. But, you cannot avoid the inevitable and a deep voice cuts the silence. ‘Who is the current irrigation minister?’ is the first question put to the kids and the vein of questions follow during the course of the meal. The adults are expected to answer, when the kids fail to give the correct answer. That person who terrified us with his voice, looks and questions is my most beloved grandpa.

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A retired air force personnel, grandpa is a hero for us in the family. He enjoyed narrating stories and jokes from his service days. Although most of the times he used to burst into laughter  even before he finished the joke and we used to stand there waiting for the joke to be finished . Meanwhile, my grandmother used to get so annoyed waiting that she used to sulk and walk away. Sometimes, he used to take control of TV for hours which again annoyed my grandma. But there are times he showed how  protective and caring he could be of her that really wowed many of us. He is, just in that matter a typical indian husband who does not express his love for his wife but definitely show it when the time comes. He was very fascinated by the world affairs. He followed the news and read so much about the west that he spoke about the brands and the local brands, habits and people as if he lived there. Tinned sardines and tuna from london were his favourite.

One of the positive side effects of old age is, people get more relaxed and open up as the years pass by. Exactly, the same thing happened with my Grandpa. I was so shocked, when my son, who my grandpa calls ‘Napoleon’ said ‘ I am not afraid of Grandpa the great’ ….I was like what do you mean you are NOT afraid, everyone is scared of Grandpa 🙂 ..But then I realised the bond they had was completely different. Grandpa’s face used to lit up when he saw his great grand son. He starting showing the numerous stamps and coins he collected all his life, which he never let anyone see them, let alone touch them. Napoleaon also admired ‘Grandpa The Great’ (that’s what he calls my Grandpa) and was amaze by the fact that he was in air force. The duo even had a flying lesson via skype.

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I am dreading this years visit to India where I will not get to see grandpa anymore. The last 45 days have been very difficult for me since he passed away. I thought living far away from them and not being a part of the rituals and ceremony’s would be good in a way because I can keep myself busy in my daily routine and forget about everything.But I was wrong, being far away, you don’t get the closure you need, the wound never heals.Making plans to go to India has never been so painful.

Coming back to Grandpa and the things he loved, he had admirable passion towards food. He used to declare his desire to eat a specific dish from a specific place and sometimes at specific time. He loved his food. Fish and chicken especially were his favourites and one of them have to be cooked on sunday. He always made sure coconut rice and potato kurma was prepared on a certain day. He declared himself  Mulslim only to celebrate Ed and eat biriyani. We kid is actually  believed him to some extent. He tried all the biriyani places in Hyderabad and secunderabad. He could even tell from where the biriyani came.

On his 90th birthday today, I am sharing his favourite Hyderabadi chicken Dum Biriyani recipe. Hyderabadi biriyani is the most popular Biriyani’s ever. People from all over the world visit Hyderabad to try the Biriyani. They say it is a blend of flavours from Moughul and telugu kitchen which was invented by the Nizams. The recipe itself  is usually kept very much under covers by most chefs. So, I never got the recipe from the person whose Biriyani I liked. But I offered/pretended to help my friend’s mum in her kitchen 😝 And picked up up some tricks. Later , using the basics , I just tried and tested so may recipes untill I hit the nail (I think I did) last month. This a Kacchi Biriyani where the meat is marinated at least for 5 hours and layered raw with rice which is cooked on ‘Dum’ ie., steam.


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This recipe makes enough biriyani for 10 people.

Ingredients:

For the marinade: 

1.5 kilos Chicken

5 Tbsp Yogurt

3 Tbsp Chilly powder

4 Tsp Cumin powder

4 Tsp Coriander powder

2 Tsp salt

4 Tsp Garam Masala powder

3 Tsp Ginger Garlic Paste

For The Rice  : 

750 Grams Rice

12 Cloves

12 Cardamom

3 Tsp B lack Cumin

6 Bay Leaves

6 Cinnamon sticks

5 Star Anise

5 Mace

For the rest of the method : 

3 Onions

Orange Food Color

Juice of 1 lemon

Few strands of Saffron soaked in 2 Tsps of milk

8 Green Chillies

5 Cloves

5 Cardamon

5 Cinnamon

3 Mace

3 Star Anise

4 Bay Leaves

1 Tsp  Black Cumin

5 TBsp Oil

Oil for frying Onions

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Method : 

Slice the Onions and deep fry them in oil till they turn light brown in color. Keep them aside.

Boil 1Ltr water with all the spices from the ingredients listed  for the rice. Let the spices boil in the water with the lid closed for at least 10-15 minutes. The idea is to extract all the flavours into the water.

Once the water is ready, add another 500 ml of water and the rice.

Add salt and 1 TBsp oil or purified butter.  Let the Rice cook for about 8 minutes or until the rice is half-cooked.

Drain the rice and cool it instantly by running cold water to stop it from any more cooking. keep the rice aside.

In a huge vessel , heat 5 Tbsp oil, add  half of the fried onions, green chillies, spices and saute them for 2 minutes

Add the marinated chicken and saute it again for not more than 2 minutes.

For the next few steps, keep the flame really low.

Remove all the chicken from heat except some to form the first layer.

Place the rice as the second layer, garnish the layer with 1 tsp of lemon juice, few fried onions.

Repeat layering chicken and rice alternatively while garnishing the fried onions and lemon juice.

On the top layer, sprinkle the saffron along with the milk . The color will be absorbed by the food vertically giving it a nice multi coloured rice.

Do the same with the orange food color. Sprinkle it on the top layer.

Now the tricky Bit – DUM

Dum is essentially cooking on trapped pressure or steam. In out kitchens we can use various tools to achieve this.

Keep the flame medium. Place a huge pancake pan and then place the vessel you are the biriyani in. This is moderate the heat and avoid the bottom getting burnt since it’s not direct heat.

Cover the lid and secure it with kitchen foil so the steam does not escape.Place a heavy utensil or a brink on the lid to make sure the steam does not escape.

Let the biriyani cook on dum for 45 mins. Check if the rice and meat has cooked. Pop everything back on if it isn’t and give it another 10 minutes. Serve the biriyani hot with raita. And when you serve make sure you  do not mix the layers . The proper way to serve Biriyani is in its layers.

Enjoy  making this mouth-watering ish from Hyderabad and do share your biriyani pictures. I would love to see how your Biriyani turned out an if you have any other tips to share.

xx