Makes 20 Flatbreads
This Indian flatbread, similar to puran poori, is stuffed with a spicy filling of yellow split peas. It is delicious all by itself, but it can accompany any Indian vegetable or meat dish. Bipin Patel, who taught me this recipe, learned how to make it from his Gujarati mother and grandmother. Bipin likes to use atta flour for the dough, but you can use a mixture of whole wheat flour and unbleached all-purpose flour. Most of the spices in this recipe are available in well-stocked supermarkets, and they can also be ordered by mail (see Sources, page 341 of the book). Ghee, Indian clarified butter, is used in the filling and to fry the shaped kachauri.
Begin this the night before, as the split peas need a good long soak in water to soften them.
To make the filling, pick over the split peas and remove any rock or dirt fragments. Put the peas in a medium bowl, add 4 cups water, and let stand at room temperature overnight.
The next day, drain the split peas and put them into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, to a thick, smooth puree. Stop to scrape the sides of the work bowl as necessary.
Melt the ghee in a medium heavy skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds and asafetida and stir with a wooden spoon for a few seconds. Watch carefully so that the cumin doesn't burn. Add the fennel, turmeric, salt, grated ginger, and jalapeño and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the ground split peas and sugar and stir for about 1 minute. The peas may stick to the bottom of the pan in spots—that's okay. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the water. The mixture will not form a cohesive mass, but when you place about a tablespoon of the seasoned split peas in your hand and press it firmly, it should hold together and not fall apart. Add water by the teaspoonful if the mixture is too dry. Let cool completely. (The filling can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before using.)
To make the dough, put the flour and salt into a medium bowl and add the oil. Stir with a fork to disperse the oil, then work the mixture with your fingertips to coat the flour with the oil. Add 1/2 cup of the water and stir until the flour forms many largeish lumps. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons water and stir well. The dough may not gather into a cohesive mass. To test if it is moist enough, press the dough with your hands. It should stick together, feel firm, and not be sticky. Work in more water by the teaspoonful if needed, but don't add so much that the dough becomes wet or sticky.
Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
To shape the kachauri, divide the filling into 20 portions, and shape each into a ball; press firmly so that they hold their shape. Set the balls of filling on a sheet of plastic wrap and cover loosely with another sheet of plastic wrap. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each into a 10-inch-long log. Cut the logs into 1-inch pieces and roll them into balls. Set them on your work surface and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Put a ball of dough on your unfloured work surface and pat it into a 4-inch circle. If the dough feels tacky, dust it lightly with flour. Put a portion of filling onto the center of the dough and bring up the edges of the dough to cover the filling completely; pleating the dough as you bring it up and over the filling makes this step go by quickly. Pinch the edges firmly to seal in the filling. Turn the kachauri seam side down onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out gently to a 4-inch circle a scant 1/4 inch thick. Set the shaped bread onto a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Line two baking sheets with several thicknesses of paper towels. Melt half the ghee in a large, heavy, straight-sided skillet (cast iron is ideal, but any heavy large skillet will work) or rimmed griddle over medium heat. When the ghee is hot, put 4 to 6 kachauri in the pan, leaving a little space between them. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the dough is golden brown on the bottom, with a few darker spots. The breads may puff up during cooking. Turn the kachauri over with a large metal spatula and cook on the second side for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked breads to a lined pan. If they puffed during cooking, they'll flatten out during cooling. Continue cooking the remaining kachauri the same way, adding more ghee to the pan as necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature. Kachauri are best fresh.
This page created March 2008
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