As much as I love south Indian cuisine, I am an equally huge fan of Gujarati food especially their thali. The food from this western state is predominantly vegetarian. The Gujarati thali is a celebration of vegetarian food at its best. It is a balanced meal with all the flavours that your palate would appreciate – sweet, sour, pungent and spicy. The red chilli powder is judiciously used and I have yet to encounter a hot Gujarati dish. And if you encounter a hot dish, it will be beautifully balanced with some sugar added to it. Although some north Indians may not be able to appreciate the two together, I love it! Each region of the state has its own unique signature dishes. While north Gujarat has Handvo and Patra to boast of, Kutch region has its scrumptious Dabeli and Shrikhand. Kathiawad has Shaak while southern Gujarat has an amazing dish called Undhiyo to be proud of.
The huge array of dishes that are served, along with a variety of flatbreads, is mind boggling and somewhat overwhelming for a first timer. The sumptuous meal is always followed by an equally wide range of desserts. My experience of eating out in a Gujarati restaurant has been always pleasant one. You will be served with love and the whole experience is that of feeling nourishe and cared… Indian hospitality at its best, if I may say so.
Thepla is Gujarati flatbread that is consumed for breakfast or for snacking. A Gujarati friend of mine in Dubai, shared her thepla recipe with me. She had promised to make them for me but the festive month of December kept us both busy and that never happened. Anyways, she graciously shared her recipe (Thanks Kalpana!) and I promise you these are one of the best theplas I have had in a long time. The only deflection that I have made is that I have used yogurt instead of water to knead them. Feel free to use water for making the dough.
I love how they can be made in advance and stored. They keep well for approximately four days upon refrigeration and I believe they will also freeze well. Ideal for this weather with goodness of methi, they are great for hectic mornings when you can simply heat them, slather over some chutney and roll them to have them on your way out and equally good to pack for kid’s lunch or tiffin . They can be had hot or at room temperature. Don’t you already love their versatility?!
1 C Methi/ Fenugreek Leaves (that have been cleaned, rinsed, drained & chopped)
1 C Whole meal (Atta) plus extra for rolling the theplas
¼ C Besan
1 tbsp + 2 tsp Oil (feel free to swap with ghee)
1/3 C Yogurt (whipped)
1 tsp Cumin powder
1½ tsp Coriander powder
½ tsp Turmeric powder
½ tsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Sesame seeds (I combined white & black)
½ tsp Ajwain (carom seeds)
¼ tsp Heeng/ Asafoetida (slightly toast it on a warm griddle)
1 tsp Ginger Paste
2 tsp Green Chili Paste
Exra oil for frying the thepla
In a mixing bowl, transfer the flours and add in the spices – cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, chilli powder, sesame seeds and ajwain. Whisk them well and add the oil or ghee. Rub the oiled flour between your fingers.
Now add the ginger paste, green chilli paste, methi leaves and yogurt and make a firm but yielding dough. Rest the dough for 15 minutes and then make … equal balls.
Keep the tava or griddle to heat. Using a rolling pin (belan), roll each ball (one at a time) to 6 inches disc of … mm thickness. Use extra flour to dust, if required.
Tranfer the flatbread carefully on to the medium hot tava. You will see the colour of the dough change slightly within seconds. Flip the flatbread.
Cook till you see the flatbread slight rising. Flip it over and apply a teaspoon of oil and flip and fry. (Keep rotating the flatbread using a kitchen towel or a large spoon while it is frying.) Flip quickly again. You will notice small brown patches on the flatbread.
Remove from heat and keep aside. You can apply some ghee over the thepla before serving.
Finish the rest of the dough in the same manner.
Serve with yogurt and chutney or pickle of your choice.
Note: You can swap methi with other vegetables such as carrots, spinach, lauki, mooli, beetroot or what ever you fancy.
Note: Feel free to experiment with other flour options if you prefer gluten free theplas
Note: I advice that you add the yogurt one tablespoon at a time since the total amount would be proportional to the the amount of water that is there in your washed methi.
Makes – 10