Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Dal Bati: A Modest Attempt


I first saw this semi-brown hard bread served with dal in my college. I neither knew what it was, nor knew how to eat it. And so, the first several times that I found this in the mess, I just skipped it because I couldn't understand at all how we were supposed to eat it (after a few weird attempts of trying to bite it or just dip it in dal and eat it). A friend saw me struggling once, and actually taught me how it is eaten. And, from then one, this has been one of the most satisfying, tasty dishes I have ever had. 

Dal Bati is a delicious Rajasthani dish, most typical in the arid areas of Rajasthan. In fact, it is the dish that the Rajasthani cuisine is most famous for. The popular combination to eat this is dal-bati-churma. The bati is the hard bread that is crushed while eating and is mixed with the tasty and spicy dal, while also accompanied by the semi-sweet churma. I absolutely love this wholesome combination that I got introduced to during my semesters. With the college shut down for a couple of months now, a conversation with a friend about dal bati made me try it out today!

Traditionally, batis are made in the fire and ashes of wood and cow dung- which gives it the authentic smoky flavour. However, in other places and at home, it is usually made in a grilled oven or tandoor. The hard knead dough is made into even-sized smooth, round-ish balls of dough which are then placed in the oven till they are baked inside out! But today, I've tried to make them without an oven, as I don't have one at home, and the recipe for making batis without an oven can be found here! I am not discussing the process of how it is made, so those interested can look up on page that I have linked. 

Considering that doing it on a stove was basically a substitute for oven, which in itself was a substitute for the traditional cow dung fire, I was skeptical as to how it would turn out. But, the pictures speak for themselves! Even if may not be as great as the authentic ones, for a first time it was as good as the my college benchmark. I feel really happy that it turned out well!

While preparing, kneading the dough thoroughly is very important. Simply put: better the keading, better the batis. The secret to batis that taste and smell absolutely delicious seems to be the ajwain/omam (carom seeds). They made them smell wonderful and made them feel like how batis should be. Heavily doused in hot, molten ghee, and with a tasty dal to eat it with, batis are sure to steal your heart! 

I had fun preparing it, and felt really happy eating it! If you are skeptical about trying without an oven, don't be- it turns out just fine!

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