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  • Bhatura

    YIELD: 10–12 (4–6-INCH / 10–15-CM) BHATURAS
    TOOLS: You’ll need a measuring cup or small bowl; a large mixing bowl; a damp dish towel or paper towel; a plate; a rolling pin; a small kadhai, wok, or saucepan; a wire mesh skimmer or slotted stainless steel spoon; and a tray lined with paper towels.

    This leavened, fried bread, paired with Chana Masala (a spicy chickpea curry), is a Punjabi classic. These days, it’s also my older daughter Neha’s favorite bread. I still remember childhood trips to New Jersey’s Little India in Edison with one purpose, and one purpose alone: getting our hands on some bhatura. Every single calorie consumed is totally worthwhile.

    • ¾ cup /180 mL warm water
    • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
    • 2½ cups plus 2 tablespoons /310 g maida (unbleached all-purpose flour), divided
    • 2 heaping tablespoons plain, unsweetened yogurt (dairy or alternative)
    • 1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups /470 mL vegetable oil, for frying
    • 1 recipe Chana Masala), for serving (optional)
    • Any curry, sabji, or chutney, for serving (optional)
    1. Place the water (it should be about 110°F / 43°C in order to activate the yeast) in a small mixing bowl or measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set it aside for at least 15 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients. Make sure it’s not too hot, as temperatures above 110°F / 43°C can kill the yeast. I sometimes put it in my unheated oven, which even when off is a little warmer than the counter.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups / 250 g of the maida, the yogurt, the ghee, and the salt. If your ghee is solid, you can warm it a bit in the microwave or on the stovetop to soften it. Using your hands or a spoon, stir well until the ingredients come together. I always use a spoon for this step—I don’t like getting my hands dirty until I absolutely have to.
    3. Stir the yeast mixture from Step 1 until smooth and add it to the dough mixture in the large mixing bowl. Using your hands, stir until the mixture comes together into a sticky clump of wet dough.
    4. Add 2 tablespoons of the flour to the dough and knead until the mixture forms a smooth ball of dough. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel or paper towel and set aside for 30 minutes, until it rises slightly.
    5. Place the remaining ½ cup / 60 g of flour on a plate. Remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down, deflating the dough. Divide the dough into 10 equal-sized balls about 2½ inches / 6 cm in diameter.
    6. Start with 1 of the dough balls. Press the ball between your palms until it is slightly flattened. Place it on a dry, lightly floured work surface. If it is too sticky to work with easily, roll the ball lightly on the plate containing the remaining flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin, 4- to 6-inch / 10- to 15-cm round. If you use too much dry flour, they won’t fry properly. The dough will be spongy and will pull back. Just keep pulling at it until you have the right length. Do the best you can. Repeat until you have prepared all the dough rounds.
    7. In a small kadhai, wok, or saucepan, warm the oil over medium–high heat (it should be about 1 inch / 3 cm deep). Test that the oil is hot enough by dropping in a pinch of the uncooked dough. If it rises immediately to the top, the oil is ready. If it sinks to the bottom, it’s not quite hot enough.
    8. From the side of the pan, slowly slide a dough round into the hot oil and cook for 40 seconds on 1 side. As the bhatura is cooking, use a wire mesh skimmer or slotted stainless steel spoon to gently push it down and allow some of the hot oil to pour over it. Turn the bhatura over and cook on the other side for 40 seconds, until lightly browned. Gently bring the bhatura to the side of the pan and allow the excess oil to drip away. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
    9. Repeat Step 8 until all the remaining dough rounds have been fried. Remove from the heat.
    10. Serve the bhaturas traditionally with Chana Masala or with any curry, sabji, or chutney. You can also stack the bhaturas, let them cool, and wrap them first in a dish cloth and then tightly wrap with aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.*
    11. *If you are storing the bhaturas, reheat them before serving by warming them on the stovetop in a dry cast-iron pan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or place in the oven at 300°F / 150°C for 2 to 3 minutes.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.