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This post happens to be the first of the few posts (that will follow in the coming months) which will be my tribute to the Bihari cuisine. Amongst the various cuisines of India, the cuisine of Bihar is one of the most unexplored ones. I am sure there will be perhaps very few of you who would have any knowledge about its culinary richness and its food/ dishes. It has in my view never received the recognition it so rightly deserves. I really do not know why that is, but all I know is that post my marriage (to a Bihari), I was amazed by the array of dishes in its cuisine – from savory to sweet and litti was definitely something I had never had or heard of before. Call it Bihar’s answer to Dal Bati if you may. I had earlier posted Sattu ka Paratha along with the Okra preparation using yellow mustard seeds.

The cuisine has some influence of the Bengali cuisine especially the usage of yellow mustard seeds and mustard oil. Mustard oil, when smoked well, gives an edge and oomph to the taste of the dish. It definitely adds a punch, a zing that other oils lack. Post my marriage I was pretty zapped when I saw my mother-in-law using it for making vegetable curries and even stuff like rajma and Chhole. But when I tasted these dishes, the difference was evident. Try this oil next time you plan to make a mutton or chicken curry and see the difference.

This rustic dish is packed with the goodness of Sattu (check this post to know more about it) and is super healthy since it is not fried and rather baked. Traditionally it is baked in an open clay oven. The accompaniments of Aalu Chokha and Baingan Chokha and a variety of chutneys make it an amazing dish that can be had as a meal or a snack. It is a much loved dish for breakfast. Aalu Chokha can be considered the Indian style mashed potatoes but with a lot more happening in there. Ditto for Baingan Chokha. It is uncooked and mashed eggplant; similar to baba ghanoush but much rustic and with lots of texture unlike the smooth baba ghanoush.

Ingredients for Litti

3 C Whole wheat flour

½ tsp Ajwain (Carom Seeds)

1 scant tsp Salt

3½ tbsp Ghee

1 Cup approx, Water

Mix together the flour, ajwain, salt and ghee. Using your fingers ensure that the ghee is well assimilated in the flour. Bring together the flour using water as required. Once the flour comes together, knead the dough for 2 – 3 minutes and keep aside, covered, to rest for at least half an hour. The dough should be soft.

Meanwhile start preparing the chokha and stuffing for the littis

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For Aalu Chokha you will need the following

4 – 5 medium sized potatoes (boiled)

½ tsp finely chopped Ginger

½ tsp finely chopped Garlic

1 tbsp finely chopped Onion

1 Green Chili (mine was hot and one was sufficient)

1 tbsp chopped Fresh Coriander (cilantro)

¼ tsp Red Chili Powder

Salt to taste

1 tsp Mustard Oil

Mash the potatoes with the back of a fork or a masher. The potatoes do not need to be mashed smooth. Add all the ingredients and mix well.

For Baingan Chokha: 

1 Eggplant (Baingan/ Aubergine), Roasted and peeled

½ tsp finely chopped Ginger

½ tsp finely chopped Garlic

1 tbsp finely chopped Onion

1 Green Chili (mine was hot and one was sufficient)

1 tbsp chopped Fresh Coriander (cilantro)

Salt to taste

½ tsp Lemon juice (adjust the sour notes)

½ tsp Mustard Oil

Mash the eggplant and add all ingredients and mix well.

Keep aside both the chokha for the flavors to assimilate well.

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(Like the tray in this pic? You can place an order for it here)

Start preparing the Stuffing for Litti

1 C Sattu

½ tsp Kalonji (Nigella Seeds)

¼ tsp Ajwain (Carom Seeds)

1 tsp finely chopped Ginger

1 tsp finely chopped Garlic

2 tbsp finely chopped Onion

1 large Green Chili (adjust according to heat)

2 tbsp finely chopped Fresh Coriander (cilantro)

1 tbsp Lemon juice

1 tsp Sour Mango Pickle Masala

1½ – 2 tbsp Stuffed Red Chili pickle Masala

1½ Mustard Oil

Mix all ingredients together using your hands (those who find hard to handle chili should use gloves) ensuring that they are well assimilated and there are no lumps. I suggest  you check for the taste and adjust the amount of heat and sourness.

Preparing the Litti

Divide the dough into 14 or 15 equal parts. Roll each part into a ball and flatten using your hands or a rolling pin into roughly three and half inch diameter. Take the rolled out dough into your palm. Scoop your palm and spoon in 1 tbsp of the prepared stuffing in the centre of the rolled dough. Press in the stuffing gently and bring the edges of the rolled dough together and pinch it over the top. Twist and remove any extra dough. (check here to see how to do it) Keep aside on a greased baking sheet. Use all the balls this way and bake the littis in a preheated oven at 170 degrees C. Turn the littis mid-way to ensure that the littis get cooked evenly all around. The littis take approximately 20 minutes to get done. Too much baking will lead to very crisp and hard littis.

Serve the littis hot with chokha. Do not forget to split open the litti in two halves and then drizzle ghee before eating. Enjoy

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Note: I suggest you bake one litti first to get an idea about the correct time that they need to get done.

Note: Do not be alarmed if you see cracks in the littis when they are getting baked. It is perfectly normal for litti to have cracks.

Note: I served half the littis for lunch and the rest I used for snacking. The amount of mash here is sufficient for 7 – 8 littis.

Yield: 14 – 15 Littis approximately.

Thanks for stopping and see you soon again

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