Gluten free food has been an integral part of the Indian cuisine. Each state has its own gluten free recipes. Besan ke Gatte is a Rajasthani vegetarian delicacy of sorts. Gatte are pepped up chick pea flour dumplings. Chick pea flour is turned into a dough with spices added to it. The dough is rolled in a log shape and sliced. The sliced pieces are boiled in water and then added to an onion, ginger-garlic, and yogurt curry. The perfect gatte curry should have soft gattas or dumplings soaked in the slightly tangy and spicy curry. And making soft guttas is a somewhat tricky job. I never liked the gatte much anyway, coz I hardly found anyone making them perfectly. My mother never used to make them and it was post my marriage that I had developed a taste for them. But it was not that classic gatte ki sabzi that I had.
My mother inlaw one day asked me if I would eat gatte ki sabzi and being a new bride, i didn’t want to appear choosy. I told her I have never had them. She said, I will make gatte today and although they are not the way the Rajasthani make, I am sure you will like them nevertheless. Just for records, she is one of those cooks who never use a measuring spoon or cups to measure the quantity of ingredients and yet the dishes they turn out have a perfect balance of everything in it, from the ratio of ingredients to the seasoning. I donno how the women of her generation managed to do that. She was indeed right that I would like the curry. In fact, I loved it and it is my all time favourite curry amonst the ones she makes. She makes another on where she cooks the gatte in onion and ginger garlic paste to which she adds tomatoes. But I prefer this one anytime.
This is one dish I never cared to learn (up until now) from her coz every time I visit her or she visits me, she ensures that she cooks this one for me diligently. She makes it like a fusion curry. She uses the Bengali spices such as the mustard seeds to make the curry. She uses no onions in this recipe. Also, she does not boil the gutte. Instead she makes the chickpea flour batter and whisks it before adding it to a hot pan with a little oil and furiously stirring it. The cooked hot dough (almost like a choux pastry) is then rolled flat on a plain surface using hands, which she cuts in diamond or square shape. These are shallow fried in hot mustard oil on a griddle and kept aside while she makes the curry. I don’t know if this curry can really be categorised as gatte. Interestingly a few days back on an Indian channel I was watching a program where a lady made a dish similar to my mother inlaw’s. She belonged to a royal family from the central state of India. She made the gatte the same way my MIL did but she made the gravy using onion, ginger garlic paste and made it tangy by adding yogurt to it and called the dish ‘khandaiyan’. Well, gatte or khandaiyan, take your pick. I like to call it my mother in law’s besan ki tarkari.
1 C Besan (chick pea flour)
½ C Water
¾ tbsp (for batter) + 1½ tsp (for sauteing) Oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Garam Masala
¼ tsp Red Chili Powder (+ / -)
½ tsp Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
1 tbsp Oil for shallow frying
1 tbsp Peeli Sarson (Yellow Mustard Seeds)
1 tsp Ginger Paste
1 tsp Garlic Paste
2 tbsp Mustard Oil
1/2 tsp Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
A pinch of Methi dana (Fenugreek Seeds)
1 medium Tomato (I grate it to attain the pulp)
Salt to taste
½ tsp Red Chili Powder (adjust to taste)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder
1½ C Water
½ tsp Amchur/ Amchoor (Dry Mango Powder)
2 Green Chilies
1 tbsp chopped fresh Coriander (Cilantro)
For the gatte, whisk together chick pea flour, water, salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, cumin seeds and red chilli powder till a smooth consistency is achieved. Add ¾ tbsp oil and whisk again for a minute. The consistency of the batter should be almost like that of pancake batter. (it should not be thick)
Heat a wok or a heavy bottom pan on medium high heat. Add 1½ oil and grease the pan or wok. Pour in the chick pea batter and stir continuously till the batter comes together as one mass. Remove the batter from heat and spread it carefully with hands or rolling pin on a working surface or chopping board to a little less than a centimeter thickness. Slice the dough to the size you like. (I suggest keeping it the size I have shown in the pic as the dumplings will soak water once they get cooked in the curry and swell in size)
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet (it should not smoke) Lower the heat and gently add the sliced dough and shallow fry on low heat till just golden. Remove on an absorbent sheet. Set aside.
Begin to prepare the curry by grounding the mustard seeds to powder. Add two table spoons of water to make a paste and to this, add the garlic and ginger paste.
Heat oil in a pan and allow it to smoke. Reduce heat and add cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds. The moment they begin to crackle, add the mustard paste to it. Fry on medium high heat. Stir the paste every few seconds to ensure it does not burn. Once it begins to dry out and turns golden brown add two table spoons of water and sauté again the same way.
Once the paste again turns golden brown, reduce heat and add tomato pulp along with dry ground spices except amchur. Sauté again till the oil appears towards the edges of the masala.
Add water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and gently add the fried chick pea batter dough. Add the amchur, whole green chillies (since we only want their fresh grassy flavor and not the heat) and allow the curry to simmer for 2 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with rice.
Serves 3 – 4
Note: Let the curry sit for half an hour so that the dumplings absorb all the flavors.
Note: You may need to adjust the water since the dumplings will greedily soak the water.
Check out other Chick Pea based goodies
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