Friday, February 16, 2007

A Simple Fare

Having lived all my life in Mumbai, Maharashtra, this wonderful culture is deeply imbibed in my mind. The language, sometimes rough and ready and yet at times very musical ! The cuisine of course is so much a part of my daily diet, despite the fact that I am a Kannadiga! So also the music of Maharashtra. I love Marathi songs, for their simplicity and depth !
I used to watch Marathi movies on TV, as a child and always classified them into categories, old devotional movies "Sant Dyaneshwar", "Gora Kumbhar", Tamasha- Lavani (WIKI : Tamasha is a traditional folk play form. Lavani is a form of music popular in Maharashtra and southern Madhya Pradesh, India. The word Lavani comes from the word Lavanya which means beauty. The Nirguni Lavani (philosophical) and the Shringari Lavani (erotic) are the two types.This was widely performed in Maharashtra,India) types! Both have their own charm, and I find myself humming the songs on and off!

Moving on to the food part.... and the topic of this post... Maharashtrian cuisine covers a wide range from being extremely mild to very spicy dishes. I got this information from Wikipedia : The staple dishes of Maharashtrian cuisine are based on bread and rice:
  • Poli or chapati - unleavened bread made of wheat flour, more common in urban areas.
  • Bhakri - bread made of all kinds of flours, mainly jowar and bajra, form part of daily food in rural areas.
  • Rice - is eaten throughout Maharashtra and is a large part of the daily meal, although Maharashtrians are not totally dependent on rice alone. Normally meals contain some form of bread, some bhaji (vegetables) and some rice with dal.
Of late I have been trying my luck and hand at making Bhakris!! now this was one item I was wary of... I felt it requires a good deal of skill than I am capable of. So I kept well away from it. Also to mention, that bhakris have not been my top favourite among Indian Breads... though I do like them on and off. But I have these packets of Juvar and Bajri Four in the fridge for ages and use them only when I make my all time favourite Thalipeeth! Well, time to pull up my socks eh!!??!! So a few weeks ago I started on my journey of making a bhakri. As expected, my first attempt was not what I wanted it to be!! though the bhakri was completely edible, I was not too happy with the end result.. reason? well, the edges of my bhakri were frayed.. not nice, smooth and round-round... and more importantly, my bhakri did not puff up like my fulkas do! M did not seem to mind, but then he is not that attentive!!but to me it was not a happy moment. needless to say, I shoved back my dreams of making wonderful,soft bhakris in the deepest recess of my mind and ploughed along making other items, thankfully with success!!
But the stubborn streak in me was not willing to let up! so I tried again... the second time was a bit better... but as they say... the third time is the charm!! I picked up a trick, mix a bit of wheat flour in the juvar/bajri (reason, the flour we get here may not be fresh, it is kept in the fridge for months).
Then I tried my bhakris (I made Bajri ones, knowing that bajri is good for winter and also owing to the fact that bajri flour was more in quantity and also that it spoils faster than other flour). This time I was rewarded for my perseverance!They turned out nice and round and also puffed up to my delight! My favourite way of eating a bhakri is with a dollop of unsalted (loni/ makkhan) on it. Unfortunately, by the time I clicked the snap, the butter had melted :(
As an accompaniment to the bhakri I made Methi Zunka (Ashwini). Palin Rice and Daal.

To make bhakri (I used approximates, no fixed measures for this.. maybe next time and with pics !):

Approx. 1 cup Bajri Flour (or Juvar)
~3 -4 tbsp Atta (wheat flour)
Boiling water
1/8th. spn. Salt (optional)

Boil the water.
Mix the flours, add salt .
Make a well in the flour and slowly add the boiling water and bind into a dough. Be careful at this stage as the water scalds.
Bind into a smooth and pliable dough.
In a plate sprinkle (not the right word.. lets say, spread..) a bit of flour, take a small portion of the dough and using your palm and fingers, very lightly flatten it .
Heat a tawa/ skillet.
Drop the bhakri on the skillet, and apply water on the top part of the bhakri (cook on medium flame). the idea is to cook it like a fulka, underdone on the side it was placed on the skillet.
When the water dries, carefully flip and cook thoroughly on the other side.
Now the underdone side needs to be cooked, that can be done on a direct flame and if you have a coil then flip on the skillet and press applying gentle pressure using a towel.

Only recently I came across this wonderful Devotional song and could not resist sharing it with allof you. This is for those who are fans of marathi bhavgeet and bhakti sangeet.

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  1. Tuzhe Rupa Chitti Raho, Mukhi Tuze naam raho.

    Good write up on lavani and Bajarichi Bhakari.

    Do not forget to topup with Lonyacha Gola or Gharche shudda tupa, and not to mention mirhicha thecha, pithale,bharli vangi and so on

  2. Nice Write up Manasi. Very nice presentation. Viji

  3. Hey Manasi,that is a mouthwatering thali girl!So traditional,I love Jhunka too.Enjoy the weekend.

  4. Everything on the plate looks yummy. Very good write-up! Never tried Bhakri! Still on level one struggling with phulkas:-)))
    Thanks for sharing,Nalini

  5. I was actually looking for the Bhakri recipe. Thanks.


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