Layers of love

DSC_0613It seems to me that missing things has become a norm in my life. When I first left home to study in Bangalore, I realised how much I miss my city Surat, especially the food. Thankfully, my mum sent my favourite snack items in packets from time to time. My hostel cupboard was never empty. From her handmade ladoos to pani-puri flavoured khakhras. And now, while I live in Gurgaon, she does the same. Whenever my brothers come to visit me, they always complaint about the heavy luggage bags. After completing an year of studies in Bangalore, I came back to Surat. The year was 2010, and I had a goal in mind: to learn Gujarati snack items. And for that, I knocked the doors of none other than Mrs Niranjana Joshi.

I’m yet to find a perfectionist like Niranjana Joshi. She’s incredible. Since my college days, I have enrolled for many ‘Nira’s Cooking Classes’. She is grounded yet sophisticated and competitive. She respects each one who attends her class yet doesn’t encourage gibberish talks in-between the classes. She has own little secrets that does the magic in every dish. I just love to sit in front of her, see her teach a trick or two and have a good laugh with the lady herself. All that said, Niranjana is extremely alert when it comes to her recipes. She likes to handover her recipes only to her students. If you happen to visit Surat, make sure you attend at least one of her classes.

Talk about Gujarati farsan items, and Khandvi or Patodi will top the list, at least for me. Some home cooks, however, find it a hassle to make Khandvis. For me, it’s all about sticking to the technique, trying no short-cuts and being precise. You can’t goof up with recipes, at least, not with Khandvi.

The soft layers of Khandvi makes it a winner of a dish. So, here you go, dear readers. I’m sharing Niranjana’s recipe here. You will, however, have to bribe me to know the little secret that she gave us during the class. Ha-ha.

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Recipe: Khandvi/Patodi or Gram Flour Rolls

Are you ready for some arm muscle exercise? If you can’t stir the kadai for more than 20 times, don’t try this recipe. Once you put all the ingredients in the kadai, you need to keep stirring it hard for a good 10 to 15 minutes. If the gram flour mixture is not steamed well, the stirring can go on for a few more minutes. That’s exactly where people promise not to try this recipe at home, ever again. But here’s why I like it. My mum has taught me this stirring-the-kadai business ever since I was like 12 or 13 of age. I love this farsan. For me, there’s no looking ahead than a Khandvi dish that’s been perfectly steamed and rolled. So, hold on, and believe me, you’ll get there too. Just be precise and give it your best.

Ingredients

For the mixture

1 cup gram flour
2¾ cup butter milk
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp green chilli paste
½ tsp turmeric powder
a pinch of asafoetida
½ tsp garlic paste (optional)
½ tsp ajwain or carom seeds (optional)
salt to taste

For tempering

oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
curry leaves (optional)

For garnish
coriander leaves, chopped
grated coconut (optional; somehow, I never end up using them)
roasted sesame seeds (optional)
a pinch of red chilli powder (optional)

Tools needed

A deep kadai
A big ladle spoon and steel spatula
Steel dinner plates (alternatively, you can also use a clean kitchen counter to roll the steamed gram flour, but I like to do it on my steel dinner plates)

Method

  1. What I like to do is, make a good buttermilk first. And strain it too. If the texture of buttermilk is good, the Khandvi’s texture will be good too. And I like to keep my buttermilk out on the kitchen counter for a few hours, so that it gets a bit sour. Sweet buttermilk is what I tend to avoid.
    2. So take a deep bowl, and add in the gram flour. Add all the ingredients in it, except the buttermilk. Mix it all well.
    3. Slowly, start adding the buttermilk. What happens with me is that I end up using too much of buttermilk and later, it takes me hours to get the perfect consistency. So, make sure you don’t put too much of it. Thin consistency is what we’re looking for. But don’t go overboard with the buttermilk.
    4. Here comes the arm muscle part. You want to heat a strong kadai and once hot, add in the gram mixture. Stir it constantly. You don’t want to let this burn. No you can’t talk or look around or do anything when doing this. Just keep on stirring this mixture on high flame with a big ladle spoon you’re comfortable with. After the right hand, switch it to the left hand. Do it so for five minutes and slow down the flame to medium. Also, you just don’t want to see any lumps. Mash all the lumps and mix the mixture well.
    5. After about eight minutes of more stirring, you want to get a thick consistency. Now is the time to do the consistency test. Take the back of a steel dinner plate. Wipe it clean and grease it lightly. With the help of spoon, take a spoonful of the steamed gram flour on the plate. Spread it with a steel spatula. After two minutes, cut it our into a thin sheet and try rolling it. If you’re successful, your next quick task is to switch the flame to slow and spread the steamed gram paste on all plates. This has to be done fast, because if the paste dries up, it won’t spread easily.
    6. After about four to five minutes, start drawing long lines on the sheets. And start rolling them. Don’t worry if they cut in between. Keep rolling the cuts and you’ll see them hidden under the rolled piece.
    7. Put all the rolls in a plate. Now is the time to do a little temper round. Heat oil in a small kadai. Add curry leaves, mustard seeds and asafoetida. Let it splutter. Now quickly add this oil mix onto the batch of Khandvi. Mix them lightly, just in case if the oil hasn’t reached a spot or two.
    8. Before you serve them, garnish it with coriander leaves, grated coconut, roasted sesame seeds and a hint of red chilli powder. I like to add the latter two when I serve them to special guests.

Voila! Enjoy the delicate savoury Gujarati snack to the hilt! Khandvi isn’t made in machines, dear readers. You can easily make it at home. Plus, it can be prepared in less than half an hour. Go for it.

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