India has an endless variety of flatbreads. Some are simple, like the humble chapati or roti, merely accompaniments to a ‘main dish’. Others are more elaborate and serve as a meal in themselves. Thalipeeth, packed with a mixture of healthy grains, spices and veggies, is definitely in the latter category.
Thalipeeth is a perfect example of simple cooking that takes inexpensive local ingredients and turns them into a nutritious dish that also happens to be utterly delicious. A meal that evolved from a Maharashtrian farmer’s staple into a regional speciality, one that retains its humble origins and didn’t need to be ‘re-invented’ by a celebrity chef.
Although I didn’t get to taste homegrown ‘hurda’ this year, my Mum did manage to mill a ‘hurda bhajani’ from last year’s dried tender sorghum crop. It’s a stash that I will gratefully delve into throughout the year to make these savoury thalipeeth. Aside from the usual onion and fresh coriander, I like to load it up with seasonal veggies like the Indian mooli (radish) I have added to this recipe.
A dish that captivates all my senses as I pat the dough onto a wet cloth. The tactile act of patting is a real sensory joy. The aroma, the ‘khamang’ flavour, the tapping sound can all be invigoratingly sensual.
Thalipeeth truly is the Maharhastrian farmer’s humble gift to the world and has the potential to instantly transport you to the lush fields of India as you make each morsel with its myriad accompaniments. Though traditionally, it’s best enjoyed with curd and red peanut chutney aka ‘shengadanyachi chutney’, I prefer it with a bit of jaggery, raw mango chunda, crunchy turmeric and mango pickle and of course, the obligatory ‘loni’ . These simple accompaniments radically amplify the ‘khamang’ and ‘khuskhusit’ quotients of these savoury flatbreads. What ‘khamang’ is to me is described here.
These savoury millet and lentil flatbreads taste best with home churned white butter we call ‘loni’. While there are more modern ways to churn white butter here, the fussy me craves the real deal – hand churned butter prepared from buffalo milk cream. It’s a luxury that I can’t dream of whipping up in my own kitchen yet. So I usually make do with regular butter here in the UK.
Hurda Bhajani Thalipeeth / Tender Sorghum flatbreadsCourse: Main, SnacksCuisine: Maharashtrian, IndianDifficulty: Medium
- For the hurda bhajani
1kg hurda or tendger sorghum (roasted)
500g chana dal
500g pearl millet
250g urad dal
250g mung dal
150g pohe (flattened rice)
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp carom seeds
- For the thalipeeth
240g hurda bhajani
5 garlic cloves
6 green chillies
1 onion (chopped)
25g fresh coriander
½ an Indian mooli radish (grated)
½ tsp red chilli powder
¼ tsp asafoetida
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp salt or to taste
Vegetable oil to grease the thalipeeth
- For the hurda bhajani
- Roast all the grains, lentils and whole spices except the hurda (tender sorghum), one by one. Once cooled, coarsely mill them. The bhajani is ready.
- For the thalipeeth
- Coarsely grind the garlic, green chillies, coriander & cumin seeds. Keep aside.
- Mix the bhajani flour with sesame seeds, asafoetida, chilli & turmeric powder.
- Then mix in the chopped onions, fresh coriander, grated mooli and salt. Knead into a loose dough using the water.
- Pat a plum-sized ball of dough onto a damp cotton cloth to flatten to 5mm thick and 10cm diameter discs. Make a hole in the centre.
- Lay the cloth onto a hot tawa over a medium flame, dough side down. Gently pull the cloth away from the flatbread.
- Drizzle oil around the edges of thalipeeth and roast. Flip to roast the other side. Serve hot ideally with white cultured butter, jaggery, yoghurt or peanut chutney.
- When roasting the grains and lentils ensure they’re roasted until golden and milled slightly coarsely.
- You can add ‘hurda’ or ‘ponkh’ grains when making the thalipeeth dough but I skipped it as I didn’t have any fresh hurda at the time.
- Ensure the thalipeeth dough is neither too tight nor too loose. Add a little water bit by bit if it’s too tight. If it’s too loose, bulk it up with more bhajani
- Instead of patting the dough over a damp cloth, you can also pat it straight onto a cold greased tawa or flat pan. When you’ve finished patting and spreading, turn the heat on to medium and allow it to cook. Drizzle the holes and edges with oil. Fip to cook both sides.
- You could swap the cotton cloth for greaseproof or parchment paper to pat the dough on.
- Adding Indian radish (mooli) to the dough is entirely optional though it definitely adds texture and flavour to these thalipeeth. Alternatively, you could add grated cucumber, bottle gourd, squash, fresh fenugreek, spinach or other similar veggies to your taste.
- These flatbreads can be enjoyed alongside a range of condiments. White home cultured butter called ‘loni’ in Marathi is traditional. Failing that, you can swap with regular butter. Thalipeeth taste delicious with jaggery, yoghurt, red peanut chutney and tangy pickle. I also love them with a bit of chunda (raw mango preserve) and instant turmeric pickle, when I have them in my fridge.