Dal Bati (Spicy Lentil with Baked Wheat Balls)

Dal Bati

NOTE: Gluten-Free recipe for Bati included. You have to try this recipe
Whenever I used to visit my grand parents at their village in India, I always used to look forward to eating some awesome home cooked meals cooked with fresh picked vegetables from their farm. The vegetables were picked once they were ready – be it fresh tomatoes, corn, mangoes etc. The fresh picked produce has so much flavor compared to the ones available in the supermarkets that travel long distances and has to be picked when it is not completely ready. The food always tastes better when it is ripened on the vine or plant or tree. I am really enjoying the fresh farm produce that I get every week from the food choice box that includes local Washington grown produce.

Anyway, my grandma used to prepare a traditional north-west dish from the state of Rajasthan, India. They had a wood fired stove that was made of clay called Chulha. They would gather the wood and fire it up using some paper and blow some air through a pipe. Once the fire got going, a clay pot with lentils and water was placed on the clay stove in order to cook the lentils. I loved the sound of food being cooked in a clay pot. While the lentils were cooking, the next step was to prepare the flour in order to make the Bati. A bati is made my combining wheat and semolina flour along with some ghee, ajwain (caraway or carom seeds), cumin seeds, salt and water to form a stiff dough. There was also a veggie to go along with the main dish. Once the lentils were cooked, it was fried with various spices and the result was a very spicy dish. As the fire subsided, the dough were made into balls and placed with the hot wood. Once they were ready, the ash was dusted off the cooked dough and cleaned with a towel.

Dal Bati

In order to put everything together, we just smashed the dough balls with our hands, put in a few tablespoons of ghee, top it off with dal and eat it with the cooked veggie on the side. It was eaten with spicy Indian mango pickles as condiment.

Dal Bati

The Indian pickles are very different from the pickles used in western cooking. The way mango pickle is made is a fascinating process. The mango pickle is usually made with raw green mango. The tarter the mango, the better it is. I would go with my grandpa to shop for mangoes at the market. We would take a few large cloth bags to hold nearly 20 pounds of mangoes. Once we reached the market, there would be lots of varieties of mangoes from small juicy mangoes to large ones, from green mangoes (for pickles) to ripe ones to cook various other dishes. Once we found the vendor and tasted the mango for tartness, the bargaining would start. You have to bargain at the Indian vegetable market. I sucked at it and would pay the price the vendor asked for. So my parents would always accompany me when we had to grocery shop. But I digress. Once we got the mangoes home, they were washed and dried with cloth towels. Then they were cut into 6-8 pieces using a giant cutting knife made for cutting raw mangoes!

Dal Bati

Once the mangoes were cut into pieces, they were salted. While the mangoes were getting readied, a few of my aunts would be preparing the spices. There were an amazing number of spices used, that were prepared in huge plates and mixed with hands! Sme of the spices I remember being in there are red chilli powder, coarsely powdered mustard seeds and lots of other spices. Then the mango pieces were combined and stored in nearly 10 or more ceramic jars. This whole effort was a joint effort to prepare the pickles for several families. Then the jars were stored to let the spices work their magic for a week or so. Then finally the pickles were ready to be eaten!

See the picture below of the way to eat Dal Bati. The red condiment you see on the plate is mango pickle. Unfortunately it is not home made but store bought. Whenever I visit India, I make sure to get a big jar of mango pickle. It is a bit too strong for western taste buds. Indians are raised eating pickles after a certain age. So try it at your own risk!

Dal Bati

Dal Bati (Baked Wheat Balls) – Gluten-free Recipe for Bati Included Below

After baking, the wheat balls will be hard on the outside and soft on the inside. To serve, crush the wheat balls roughly with your hands. Add ghee and then the spicy lentil on top. Spicy lentil recipe below

Ingredients:
2 cups white wheat flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
2 tablespoons ghee
(buy ghee from here – www.pureindianfoods.com)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ajwain (carom or caraway seeds)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water

Directions:
Set the oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients and knead it into a slightly stiff dough. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes or so. Then shape them into 2 inch balls.

Place them on a cookie sheet and cook for 20 minutes.

Enough for 4 people

Dal Bati – Gluten-free Recipe of Bati

Since my daughter cannot eat wheat, I tried the gluten-free version of the wheat balls. It came out tasting excellent! After baking, the balls will be hard on the outside and soft on the inside. To serve, crush the balls roughly with your hands. Add ghee and then the spicy lentil on top. Spicy lentil recipe below

Ingredients:
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free baking flour
2 tablespoons ghee
(For one of the best tasting and pure ghee – www.pureindianfoods.com)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ajwain (carom or caraway seeds)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water

Directions:
Set the oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients and knead it into a slightly stiff dough. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes or so. Then shape them into 2 inch balls.

Place them on a cookie sheet and cook for 20 minutes.

Enough for 4 people. Makes around 8-10 balls

Spicy Dal (Lentil)

This is a dal (lentil) recipe that is eaten with the dough balls above.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup urad dal
1/4 cup moong dal
1/4 cup chana dal
3 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons serrano green chillis, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
2 medium tomatoes, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons ginger, finely grated
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
salt to taste

Directions:
Rinse all the lentils together few times with water. Soak them in a medium bowl for 1/2 hour. Then add them to a medium pot with 4 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat so it cooks on simmer (low to medium heat) for 30 minutes or so till the lentils are cooked and soft. Occasionally remove the scum that forms on top.

In another pan, heat ghee on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let it fry for 10 seconds or so. Add the serrano chillis, coriander powder and red chilli powder and fry for 20 seconds or so. Add the tomatoes, turmeric powder and grated ginger. Let the mixture cook for 10 – 15 minutes till the tomatoes are cooked well. Add the cooked lentils and stir well. Add salt and cilantro.

Enough for 4 people. Makes around 8-10 balls

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