You have heard of Chapattis and Rotis: they are the thin unleavened Breads of India; Paratha is a slightly thicker in texture than Roti and is either shallow fried or cooked in a little cooking oil. Where as the famously known, Naan bread, is leavened bread and mainly cooked in a tandoor.
Here is a flat bread, Thepla, a Roti made with fresh fenugreek leaves added to the dough with spices, popular amongst the Gujarati community of India. I have made this time and time again using fresh Fenugreek leaves of the common variety type of Fenugreek which is readily available in Asian greengrocers and sometimes even sold in big Supermarkets.
Having grown and used Kasuri Methi in a previous recipe, I decided to use it in this recipe and once again compare the taste with the common variety type. All I can say is I shall be growing more of this variety of Fenugreek next year.
Because I decided to harvest all the Kasuri Methi by cutting the whole plant off (left the roots to see if they grow again. Never grown this variety before, so it is a new experience in every stage from seedling to plate). Snipping of just the leaves of the stems, is a job done with patience. Only the leaves are needed for most recipes and I quite like this job, I find it therapeutic, oh dear, I think I am turning into my granny!
I fondly remember my Grandmother, prepping the vegetables for my Aunt in the Kitchen, she had her ‘spot’ were she sat; and she would while away her time, prepping the vegetables, not only shop bought but also the vegetables that my grandparents grew in their back garden.
In this recipe, using Millet flour is not necessary but has the advantage of making the flat breads crispy, even when they are not rolled out too thin. If you cannot get hold of millet flour, just use double amount of plain or chapatti flour and your thepla will remain soft like chapattis, again there is nothing wrong with that texture either. Some prefer it so. They can be eaten hot of the pan or cold.
When I have left overs and I am working in the garden and pushed with time to have lunch, I simply make an omelette, place the cold thepla on top of the cooking omelette, so the two ‘stick to each other’ and then cut into quarters for a quick lunch, you could say a bit like french toast with a Gurajati twist.
Ratio for the 2 flours to chopped fenugreek is 1:1:1 and add the spices to your taste.
Here I have 1 cup of Chapatti flour; 1 cup of Millet Flour with a cup of chopped fenugreek leaves. As we like these a little spicy, I have added one tablespoon of fresh roughly chopped green chillies, a tablespoon of finely grated ginger with a teaspoon each of sea salt, Jaggery (if unavailable use dark muscovado sugar), cumin powder and coriander powder. Red chilli powder is optional of which I added a quarter teaspoon with half a teaspoon of Turmeric powder. Add 2 tablespoons of Rape Seed Oil and either with your hand or a spoon mix these ingredients in. Bind with yogurt, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough ball is formed and pliable and just right to roll without dough sticking to the rolling surface or the rolling pin.
This amount of dough will make at least 12 Thepla, these will be thin flat breads. Less can be made; I would suggest no less than 9. These will be thicker, remember to cook them for a little longer.
Now take a dough ball and gently roll out on a floured surface. Remember they won’t be a smooth circle if using millet flour mix. But try and keep them as even and ’round’ a shape as you can.
Place in a hot, flat non stick pan and allow to cook for about 2 minutes, keep the heat on moderate, notice the change in colour, once this happens turn onto the other side and allow to catch colour (do not allow to burn), keep moving it and flip back onto the ‘first’ side after 2 to 3 minutes. Now add a tablespoon of cooking oil around the edge of the Thepla and keep rotating it until oil reaches the centre. press down with a spatula to allow contact with oil all around the Thepla, and flip over, if there is enough oil no need to add more for the second side, and press down with spatula again and cook the second side.
Once it looks cooked through remove onto a paper towel to remove excess oil. If Millet flour was used , Thepla will feel soft when hot, but as it cools it will start to crisp up.
Repeat the above for the other 11 Thepla dough balls.
Serve with a cool Cucumber and Red Onion Raita with a glass of cold Lassi.