Ask anyone how his holiday was and he would invariably tell you about the food. It is true that many times if the food is sumptuous during our travel to new and exotic places, we rate our holiday as excellent. Our trip to Rajasthan some years ago brings back more vividly memories of the thalis, snacks and sweets that we ate than those of the colorful dance and music shows, its rich palaces and stunning forts. Whether it be fancy restaurants or wayside dhabas, Rajasthani food was simply delightful. Dishes were sometimes sinfully rich with ghee, spicy hot with red chili, crisp and flaky or sweet and syrupy. Any which way we couldn’t keep wanting for more.
As it was for Majama the parrot, dal baati, a dish of cooked lentils and baked bread, caught our imagination. We had this special Rajasthani dish a number of times during our stay there. Of course, every time I asked for the recipe from the waiter, chef, cook or whoever was obliging enough, much to my daughters’ annoyance. They always gave me a look that said “You are never going to make this dish at home.” Well, while it is true that I never did make it at home, I had recipes from the great masters of Rajasthani food. I share with you a recipe from a cook who had kept it a secret thus far.
To make the dal: Pressure cook together one cup of urad dal, one fourth cup each of chana dal and moong dal in three cups of water. Heat two tablespoons of ghee in a pan and add one teaspoon of cumin seeds, a pinch of asafetida, a few cloves, a small piece of cinnamon stick, two or three whole red chili, ½ tsp turmeric powder, two teaspoons of chili powder to the hot ghee; then add cooked dal and salt to taste. Simmer till it thickens.
For the baati: Knead together two cups of wheat flour with one cup of ghee and a sprinkle of water to make stiff dough. Make ping pong-sized balls of the dough. Flatten them slightly and bake at 180oC in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Serve dal and baati with a dribble of ghee on its top.
If you spot Majama, do give her a bite. She will be your friend for life!