I remember the first time I ate this recipe. It was in Ujjain. We were all there for some sight-seeing. Not that there is much to see except temples and saffron-clad holy men. We were married for only six months at that time. Shrikant was very excited to show me around, and feed me the best of everything. So I was a little taken aback when he took me to a shabby looking road-side eatery right next to the Mahankaleshwar temple. We were hungry as hell, but the look of the place wasn’t tempting at all. Then to top it off, Shrikant described to me in detail how these Baaflas are made. The true way of roasting them is inserting them in the middle of a fire made by torching dry cow-dung cakes. Ugh… the thought of it!
And then picture this. The guy who served it to us, actually dunked the entire baafla into a tin filled with ghee! The baafla was soaked to bits in the ghee when it was served to us. Damn if I was going to eat this darned thing! I’d rather go hungry!
He then asked in his heavy Malwa tone, “Dal kesi hona, tej hona kya?” Needless to say, I was clueless as to what he was talking about. Shrikant replied in an equally accent laden tone, “Hao Bhiao, tej tadka hona!”
What they meant was the tadka on top of the dal, and whether we wanted it really hot and spicy. And Shrikant had replied in the affirmative. Only God could have helped me that day.
But one taste of the Daal Baafle and I was hooked forever! I have tried making this dish a million times, but I can never match the taste of the Daal Baafle I had that day at that dhaba. The difference, I guess…. was the cow dung cakes! 😀
For the Baafle
- 3 cups wheat flour
- 1 cup semolina (rawa)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp oil
- salt to taste
For the Daal
- 1 cup toor dal
- 1/2 cup masoor dal (red lentil)
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 10 to 12 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 3 to 4 green chillies finely chopped
- 2 small tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 small pinch hing (asafoetida)
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 3/4th tsp turmeric powder
- 3 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
- 3 tsp oil
- 3 cups water
- salt to taste
For the tadka
- 4 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 5 dry red chillies
- 2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
To make the baafle
Mix the wheat flour, semolina, baking powder and salt together in a large dish. Make a well in the center and add the oil. Mix it together. Now add water slowly and knead to form a firm dough. It should not be too firm so as to form cracks on surface, but not as soft as chapati dough either. Your thumb should form an imprint on it without too much pressure. Leave the dough aside for an hour.
Now make small balls of the dough and press on one side of the dough balls with your thumb. Heat about one liter of water in a wok and place the dough balls in this. When the water is boiling, and the dough balls rise to the surface, the baafles are ready to be baked.
Remove them from the water, and drain them on tissues. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C, and place the baafles on the upper rack. Now lower the heat to about 150 degrees C, and bake the baafle for about 30 minutes, turning sides occasionally. Tap the top of a baafla with the nail of the index finger. If the baafla emits a hollow sound, consider it done!
To make the Daal
Pressure cook both the daals together till they are soft.
Heat the oil in a wok, and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once the mustard seeds start crackling, add the asafoetida. Now add the garlic and fry till it turns golden brown. Add the onions and a little pinch of salt. Saute for about 3 minutes. Now add the chopped tomatoes and coriander powder. Add the turmeric and red chilli powder. Saute till the oil leaves the masala. Now add the cooked daal to this. Add 3 cups of water and salt to taste.
Bring the daal to a boil. Now lower the flame and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
To make the tadka
Heat the oil in a tadka pan. Add the cumin seeds. Once they start changing color, turn off the heat. Add the red chillies and the chilli powder.
How to serve the Daal Baafle
First press the baafla in the palm of your hand till a big crack appears right down the middle. Now dunk this baafla in a potful of ghee and place it in a dish. (I refrain from carrying out this step. I usually only spoon out a little ghee on top of the broken baafla. But the taste isn’t as good as the ghee soaked baafla, I assure you!)
In a separate bowl, take the daal and depending upon how hot you like it, add the tadka on top of it.
Combine the daal and the baafla as you would daal and rice, and eat it with flourish not caring a thing in the whole wide world about the loads of calories you just dipped your baafla into!
One more traditional way of serving this recipe is with powdered sugar on the side. So now your baafla itself becomes a dessert too! Crush a ghee soaked baafla and sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of it. Your choorma is ready as a delectable dessert!
One thing to remember though. Do not cook this recipe in the afternoon unless you are in the position to stretch yourself like a cat on your bed and treat your eyelids to a looooooong refreshing nap! As a matter of fact, I can’t wait to finish writing the blog so I can go and snooze too!
Bon Appetit people!