I am going to tell you about a recipe which I tasted, enjoyed and learnt some 16 years back from the contract workers engaged in optic fiber cable laying between Mughalsarai and Allahabad railway stations. My elder brother had the subcontract of the work and I joined him to see how it was done; but I never knew that it would be so much fun spending time with the people who work at the ground level and make things possible, piece by piece.
We were walking down along the railway track to reach Chunar Railway station. All day long incessant rain had badly disrupted the cable laying work, for it filled the trenches dug up for optic cable with mud and slurry. Nevertheless, the rain also brought some respite for the laborers—who were otherwise working tirelessly on this stretch—and offered them opportunities to have good time in whatever way possible. The station was still three kilometers when a group of workers invited us to join for dinner, for they were preparing something special; their all time favorite—Baati Chokha. We couldn’t resist. They had made elaborate arrangement for the feast; fetched Goitha (dung cakes), fresh brinjal, tomatoes, potato and other essential ingredients from the nearby village. And what they prepared on the low, simmered heat of the dung cakes was just fabulous. I had never had anything like that before; it was pure, rustic, country food—the preferred choice the people who do lot of physical labor in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and even in lower districts of Nepal. But now it is also served in some restaurants of the metro cities like Delhi and Kolkata.
Its recipe is very simple, and you have plenty of options—you may grill it; microwave it; deep fry in vegetable oil; or follow the legendary method—do it the way they do it—bake on the simmered heat of dung cakes. Preparing Baatis on dung cakes give a distinct flavor to them. Believe me. What you will have to do is just rub off ashes using a clean cloth.
Follow the simple instructions and prepare Baati Chokha in your kitchen. For this you will have to prepare two things:
You can divide the preparation in two parts. The first thing is to prepare the Dough and the second thing is Stuffing for Baati.
Ingredients for Dough
- 2 cups wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter)
Ingredients for Stuffing (which is called pitti)
- 1 cup flour of roasted gram (Sattu)
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 tbs carom seeds
- 1 tbs cumin seeds
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 3-4 green chillies
- 1 tbsp spoon lemon juice
- Stuffed red chilli pickle
- 2 tbsp spoon ghee
- Salt to taste
- Put 2 cup of wheat flour in a big, deep plate. Add carom seeds, 2 tbl spoon ghee and salt to taste in the flour.
- Knead the dough properly with water. When it is done, keep it aside.
- Now prepare the stuffing for Baati. Add finely chopped garlic cloves, green chillies, ginger, carom seeds, cumin seeds, stuffing of red chilli pickle, lemon juice and salt to taste in the roasted gram flour (Sattu).
- Add ghee as suggested so that the stuffing binds better. If you want you may also add little water to make the stuffing moist. Now mix all the ingredients properly in sattu.
- Now make 7-8 balls from the kneaded dough. From each ball make a patty of size 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
- Fill the stuffing in the center of the patty and close it from all sides, preparing it into roughly spherical shape. Do the same for all 10 balls of the dough.
- Now put all balls on the grill rack and grill it for 8 to 10 minutes. Once it is done. Take out the grill rack and turn over the Baatis so that other side of Baatis is also properly done. Ensure that Baatis are brown from all sides.
- 3 middle size potatoes
- 2 brinjals
- 3 Medium sized thin skinned (desi) tomatoes
- 2 finely chopped onions
- 3-4 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 1 inch finely chopped ginger
- 3-4 finely chopped green chillies
- 25 gram coriander leaves
- 2 tbl spoon mustard oil
- Boil/roast the potatoes. Remove the skin and keep aside.
- Roast brinjal and tomatoes on gas stoves or cook in the oven until they become soft.
- Remove the burnt skin of the brinjal and tomatoes.
- Now mash boiled potatoes, brinjal and tomatoes together. Add finely chopped onion, cloves, coriander leaves, ginger, green chillies and mustard oil. Add salt to taste.
- Mix all the ingredients with hands properly.
Now serve Baati with ghee and smoking hot Chokha. You may also replace Chokha by mutton curry or turkey. They also taste the best with Baatis.