I’m not sure if I have mentioned it here before: I LOVE Indian food. So earlier this month I took an Indian vegetarian cookery course at an adult education center nearby. I chose vegetarian because I knew they’d be making fish and lamb dishes at the regular course, and I don’t eat that. Only six out of twelve participants showed up, which meant that everyone had a go at everything.
We made chapati (a type of flatbread), Chola Ni Dal (black eye bean dal), Batata Nu Saak (spiced potatoes), Moong Dal Wada (fried moong bean balls), and Mango Shrikhand for dessert.
As I was quite impressed how easy it is to make chapati, I decided this would be the first thing to try at home. I didn’t feel like elaborate cooking, so I chose these quick pseudo-Indian meatballs as an accompaniment. Pseudo because I just add whatever kind of curry paste I have in the fridge to the mince meat as well as a handful of fine breadcrumbs, roll the meatballs in more breadcrumbs, and fry them in butter. And, of course, you wouldn’t get beef meatballs in India.
For those of you not residing in Europe – we’re currently in the middle of this horse meat scandal, where horse meat was found in ready-made meals like lasagne, ravioli etc. So I was a little reluctant to buy pre-packaged mince meat and went to the butcher to buy some. Here’s to hoping there wasn’t a dead horse in the refrigerated storage behind the counter…
300 g chapati whole grain flour*
pinch of salt
approx. 125 ml warm water
1 tbsp oil
ghee for coating the bread
*I had brown chapati flour (whole grain), which unfortunately turned the dough into a heavy unyielding lump. I started over with plain white flour, and it turned out perfect.
In a deep bowl, mix flour and salt with half the warm water and mix by rubbing between your fingers, then kneading well, forming a firm ball of dough. Add more water as required. [I used up the whole 125 ml. The dough should be smooth and feel springy/elastic to the touch.] Cover dough with a tea towel and let rest for about ½ hour.
Pour 1 tbsp oil into the bowl and knead the dough in there, again forming a ball. Pluck plum-sized pieces off the dough ball and form into small flat balls. Roll out each little ball – not all at once, but one after the other – on a floured surface until it’s very thin. [I rolled two, put one in the pan, rolled out another two...]
Heat a non-stick pan. Before frying the bread, add about 3 tbsp of ghee into a metal container and put the container in the middle of the hot pan, leaving it there until the ghee is liquid. Take out and put aside.
Start frying one piece of dough at a time – dry, not using any fat! The dough will start to blow up in several places and blister. Once the blisters start showing, turn the chapati around, and in the places that do not blister, softly touch with a broad object (I used a pestle) so they start blistering a little in those places, too. Turn around again, leave for a bit and take out. Proceed in the same way with the remaining dough. [It will only take about 1 - 2 minutes of frying on each side per chapati. They will show brown spots, which is exactly how it should be.]
As soon as you take a chapati out of the pan, brush both sides with the melted ghee. Stack the chapati on top of each other, and serve with whatever takes your fancy.