I hear my father yet again craving for some good old Bihari food he grew up on. It just so happens that most of what he loves does not happen to be too healthy for him in his golden years. So I am pleasantly surprised to hear my mother readily agreeing to make ‘Birhni’. But then she kills his joy instantly with a “no kheer to accompany it”. My father looks at me with a half evil smile, half begging me. I am torn between his desire to have something so close to his heart, and his health. Finally, love conquers better sense and reluctantly I convince my mother that I would like to have some kheer with it. She knows my father is up to no good, because I really don’t care much for kheer. But then she doesn’t want to argue because even she agrees that this is the weirdest combination of savory and sweet, but somehow it works! Besides, her daughter is visiting after 5 years and she wasn’t about to refuse anything she asked for. My father blackmails my mother’s emotions and demands this parantha with kheer on every occasion he can find – his birthday and wedding anniversary, his kids birthdays and anniversaries, and even his grand childrens birthdays, even when we are not with them. He is delightfully conniving, and I find it so cute even at his age!!
- Chana dal – 1/2 cup
- Jeera – 1/2 tsp
- Red chilli flakes – 3/4 tsp (or to taste)
- Asafoetida (hing) – 1/4 tsp
- Oil – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1 tsp (or to taste)
For the dough
- Whole wheat flour – 2 cups
- Warm water for kneading – approx 3/4 to 1 cup
- Salt – 1 tsp
For shallow frying
- Cooking spray or desi ghee or refined oil
Wash well and soak the chana dal for at least 5-6 hours. At the end of the soak time, drain excess water and keep water level just slightly above the dal. Add salt. Heat oil for tarka and add jeera, hing and chilli flakes. Stir gently and then dunk the tarka in the chana dal. Stir well. In a pressure cooker filled with a little water, boil the chana mixture covered, and then under pressure for about 5-6 whistles. Adding water to the base of the cooker will deter excess pressure buildup, even when the water in the chana daal dish dries up. Turn off heat and wait for the pressure to release. Check on the chana dal mix. The dal should be well cooked and softened with no excess water. If the dal still seems soggy, place on low flame constantly stirring till the water dries up and the mix is dry enough for filling without making the dough soggy.
Mix flour and salt and make the dough just as you would make for roti, making sure the dough is not too soft and soggy or else the parantha will tear while rolling. Now divide the dough into 12 equal sized balls. Take a ball and roll out to about a 2.5 inch circle. Place 1 tsp of mixture in the center, bring the edges together and pinch and fold over sealing it. Now roll the ball on a flat surface using a little flour to prevent it from sticking or tearing the surface. Heat a tawa (flat griddle) and shallow fry the parantha after the parantha starts bubbling on it’s surface with either spray, refined oil and desi ghee. If the chana dal is not soggy, the parantha should puff up like a poori.
This is traditionally served with only kheer. But you can also serve it with pickles and raita. Enjoy with your loved ones!
I will be back with another mouth watering recipe soon!!