That’s a mouthful, to say and to eat. I posted a picture of this on my instagram feed and I had a lot of friends asking for the recipe. To my mind, that was odd, because this was more of a ‘throw everything you have in the fridge together’ type of preparation. I’ve had this long standing habit of making a roti / flatbread mixed with fresh vegetables (grated carrot or bottlegourd) or leafy vegetables such as spinach or even pureed leftover dal and curries. Its an effective way to get some flavour into a plain roti and cleans up your fridge, what’s not to love?
I have been using a multi millet mix for rotis off and on and used the same to make these theplas. Millets grow in abundance in the Telangana region, of which Hyderabad is the capital city. The area is land locked, dry and arid and millets which do not need much water, are suitable for these semi drought conditions. Millets are also extensively eaten in Maharashtra and Karnataka. All this changed over the last few decades with everyone shifting both cultivation and consumption to rice. However, the last few years have brought a surge in the interest and consumption of millets, much to the delight of farmers. This is due to the fact that millets are gluten free and low in glycemic index, making it suitable for those on a gluten free diet or people who need slow release foods, like diabetics. Millets are very ‘filling’ that’s what a lay person would call a low GI food. It makes one feel less hungry and delays the next meal. Farmers would make a gruel from millets such as ragi and consume it early in the morning before they head out to the fields. This would keep them full till their next meal.
Due to the nature of the grain, millet rotis tend to become dry and are best eaten hot, smeared with a little butter or ghee. It is also a little difficult to roll out as a roti, again because it doesn’t contain gluten, the roti breaks and tears and doesn’t hold shape. The traditional way to combat this, is to knead the dough with warm water, and pat out the rotis instead of rolling them. It is a treat to watch ladies do this, ofcourse this is a dying skill.
To make my life easy, I simply add a little bit of wheat flour to act as a binder and help roll out the rotis. Wheat also ensures the theplas remain soft for a few hours after making them. Millet flours are coarse, they also have a strong nutty taste which takes a little getting used to. Adding spices, grated or pureed vegetables or even a dab of ghee or butter, makes it easier to eat. It is definitely an acquired taste. So start with small quantities.
There is a pseudo grain amongst millets, looks and tastes like cooked broken rice, this is my favourite, because it can be cooked and eaten in place of rice. Do check out Foxtail millet. I have a few recipes for it on this blog such as patties and pulav. Jowar/ pearl millet can effectively be used in many non Indian dishes too, I have a recipe for a tabbouleh salad that uses jowar instead of Bulgar wheat!
For a recipe that I didn’t think was blogging worthy, that’s a lot of story!
I make my own multi grain flour mix but you can also use a premix. I add equal quantities of Ragi, Jowar, Bajra to a container and mix it. The wheat flour is added when I knead the dough and in as much quantity as desired. For this thepla, I used equal quantities of ragi, jowar, bajra and wheat flours.
1/2 cup each of ragi, jowar, bajra and wheat flours (2 cups flour in all)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
1-1.5 cups finely chopped spinach and fenugreek leaves
1/2 – 3/4 cup warm water to knead the dough
3-4 teaspoons of oil / ghee
Mix together all of the ingredients except the water, add water slowly and knead into a slightly stiff dough. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
Heat a tava / griddle on medium high heat, divide the dough into 8 portions and make balls out of them.
Using a little dry wheat flour and a rolling pin, roll out the dough balls into thin discs, about 5 inches in diameter. Repeat with all of the dough balls.
When the griddle is hot, cook the theplas on the first side for 20 seconds, flip over when small bubbles/ brown spots form. Cook the other side for 30-45 seconds, press down gently with a clean kitchen towel, to ensure all the edges are cooked, drizzle some oil/ ghee and repeat the pressing down on the other side. This is to ensure that the edges get a few crispy bits.
Take it off the flame and keep it in layers of a kitchen towel or serve immediately. Repeat with all the dough. Serve them hot with lots of white butter (:D), yogurt and pickle on the side.
If you liked this recipe, or tried it out, do let me know how it turned out. You can also write about how you use millets in your kitchen, or what your favourite recipe for thepla is.