Today I bring a recipe from India – Litti Chokha as my 8th “Experiments in Kitchen” post. This is my husband’s favorite. I am generally his sous-chef when he makes this.
The Original Recipes
Actually, I had never had Litti Chokha before my husband made it for me. He used to make litti chokha during his college days with his friends on an actual fire during winters. He wanted to revive the same taste that he remembers from those days. Therefore we experimented with few online recipes and came to our version. Our version of litti chokha is a combination of his prior knowledge of the recipe, this recipe in Hindi by Nisha Madhulika and this recipe by Let’s be foodie. He says, “This is the closest we have come to the traditional litti chokha that I used to have.”
What is Litti Chokha?
Litti Chokha is a full lunch/dinner meal which consists of Litti and Chokha. The Wikipedia correctly describes Litti as:
It is a dough ball made up of whole wheat flour and stuffed with Sattu (roasted chickpea flour) mixed with herbs and spices and then roasted over coal or cow dung cakes or wood then it is tossed with lots of ghee.
Litti’s are served with the chokha, which is made from roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes.
The recipe calls for certain ingredients which as usual we don’t have in our pantry. Therefore we make do with that ingredient’s replacements or just skip it. This time it is achaar ka masala or pickle’s masala. We replace it with fennel seeds and mustard oil.
We also don’t have Sattu ka atta also called roasted split chickpeas flour. Therefore we made it at home. I will show how to make sattu flour in the steps below.
Instead of boiling the potatoes, we broiled them in the oven. And we broiled tomatoes and eggplant too.
Traditionally Litti’s are roasted over a fire made from coal/wood/cow dung cakes. Instead, we baked them in our oven which is the closest we can get to the original process.
Let’s make Litti Chokha
There are two parts to this recipe, one is Litti and the other is Chokha. This recipe would have taken a lot of time to cook if we would have cooked them sequentially. Well, we didn’t, which reduced the time.
First things first, litti need dough and sattu flour while chokha needs roasted vegetables. My husband placed three potatoes and two tomatoes on the baking tray. Next, he took one large eggplant and made a long incision from one end to another without cutting the eggplant into two halves. And placed eggplant also on the foil-wrapped baking tray. He set the oven to broil and placed the tray on the top shelf of the oven.
Meanwhile, I took a pan and dry roasted one cup of split chickpeas. Split chickpeas are also known as Bengal gram/chana dal. Then transferred the roasted split chickpeas to a plate for it to cool down. Next, I took whole wheat flour, carrom seeds, oil, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
First, I mixed the dry mixture by hand. Once it became slightly coarse, I added water slowly to shape the mixture into a smooth soft dough using my hands. You can use a dough mixer. Just make sure that you don’t make the dough sticky by adding too much water. We want the dough soft not sticky. I kneaded for about 5 minutes to make sure the dough was ready. Then I covered the dough with a damp cloth and left it to rest for the next 15 minutes.
The roasted split chickpeas are cool to touch now. So my husband processed them into the flour using the food processor. Then he added chopped ginger, chopped garlic, fennel seeds, chopped green chilis, mustard oil, salt, pink salt, and lime juice to the sattu flour. Gave it a nice mix using a spoon. And our sattu filling is ready to be put inside litti.
By now, the vegetables had been inside the oven for 10 minutes. We checked them. The tomatoes had a burnt skin. They were ready. So we removed them from the tray. When we stuck a toothpick inside potatoes, they were still hard at some places, so we turned them. The eggplant was golden brown from one side, so we turned to cook it from the other side. Then kept the tray back inside the oven.
After next 10 minutes, we took potatoes and eggplant out of the oven and left them on the countertop to cool down. Next, preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C
It was time to prepare the litti. I removed the cloth from the dough and kneaded it again for a minute or two. Then my husband divided the dough into eight equal parts and shaped them into balls.
He took one ball, using his thumb and fingers he made a hole in the middle, making a bowl/cup shape from the ball like the one shown in the picture below.
Next, he added 1.5/2 tablespoon sattu filling into the cup.
He started pulling the dough from all four sides to reduce the opening (working upwards). And pinching it together to make a peak like this.
Next, he pinched together and sealed the tip and rolled the ball in his hands softly to smoothen the surface. Then he pressed the ball very slowly into an oval-shape (making sure the filling doesn’t pop out).
We did the same to the rest of the seven dough balls, turning them into eight beautiful littis. We brushed each litti with oil and placed them on the baking tray.
Place the tray in the oven. Baked on one side for 15 minutes. Then turned them, they will be golden brown from one side already. Baked on the other side for next 20 minutes. Then take them out and serve them hot with chokha. Now let’s see how to make the chokha.
While the litti’s were baking, we worked on the chokha. He peeled the skin of tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant and put all of them together in a bowl. Mashed them into a smooth paste. Next, he mixed in salt, mustard oil, and chopped onions. And chokha is ready.
Note, we used mustard oil for sattu filling and chokha, that is one of the key ingredients which gives the main flavor to this recipe. You could use other oils, but if you want the original taste, go for the mustard oil.
Once both chokha and litti are ready, brush the litti with clarified butter and place two scoops on chokha on your plate and serve. Don’t forget the last touch, the clarified butter, it really enhances the taste of the whole dish.
How does it taste?
In one word? I don’t think I can sum up litti chokha in one word. So here it is in many words: Awesome, Amazing, Tasty, Delectable, Delightfull, Mouth-Watering, Yummy, Fingerlicking good, etc.
The litti is hard on the outside, soft and flaky in the middle, and the filling is spicy and tangy at the same time. You pair it with the chokha which has slightly burnt (charred eggplant) taste and that single bite will make you “MMMMMMMM”. Really it’s that good.
This time when I was in India, my brother-in-law ordered litti chokha from a restaurant. And straight away, after one bite, my first words to my husband were, “Yours taste much better than this.” Maybe I am partial because he is my husband and I believe he cooks the best litti chokha around. But you will never know until you try this recipe.
So, Just make it. Don’t give a second thought. What’s the worst that can happen? You won’t like it. But you will have the chance to cook and eat something different. Isn’t that what we call an experiment?
Litti ChokhaPrint This
Since this recipe plugin doesn’t allow me to list ingredients according to different parts in this recipe, I am adding the ingredients here with the steps.
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp carom seeds
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Add all the ingredients (whole wheat flour, carom seeds, salt, baking soda, oil) in a bowl and mix them till the flour becomes coarse.
- Add water slowly and knead the flour into a dough either by hand or by dough mixer.
- Knead the dough for at least 5-10 minutes. Make sure the dough isn’t sticky.
- Wrap the dough with a damp cloth and leave it for 15 minutes.
- 1 cup split chickpeas (Bengal gram/chana dal)/ roasted split chickpeas flour (sattu)
- 1 tbsp chopped ginger
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 green chilies chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
- 1/8 cup mustard oil
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- Juice of 1/4 lime
- 1/2 tsp Kala Namak/pink salt/Himalayan Sea Salt/Rock Salt
- Salt to taste
- If you don’t have sattu but have the split chickpeas, roast them till they become golden brown and ground them to flour using the food processor.
- Add all the ingredients mentioned above in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Filling is ready
- Reduce amount of chilis if you want less spicy
- Sattu filling
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F/200C.
- Split the dough into eight equal parts and roll them into a ball.
- Take one ball, start making a dent/hole in the middle to make a cup-like shape.
- Add 1.5//2 tbsp of filling in the hole.
- Start stretching the dough upward and pinching to reduce the size of the opening and achieve a peak.
- Pinch the peak to seal it. Then slowly roll again into a ball.
- Press slowly into an oval shape.
- Repeat steps 3 to 8 for all the balls.
- Place the litti on a baking tray in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes on one side. Then turn them and bake on the second side for 20 minutes.
- Serve hot with chokha.
- 3 Large Potatoes
- 2 Tomatoes
- 1 Eggplant
- 1 small/medium onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp mustard oil
- 2 green chilis chopped
- Salt to taste
- Place the potatoes and tomatoes on the baking tray. Slit the eggplant in the middle without splitting it into two halves and place it on the baking tray. Set oven to broil and place the tray on the top shelf of the oven.
- Tomatoes get ready first in 10-15 minutes. Their skin turns brown/black. Take them out as soon as they are done. Also turn the potatoes and eggplant to cook them from another side.
- After another 10 minutes, take the tray out, remove the potatoes and eggplant and let them cool.
- Peel off the skin of tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant and place them in a bowl.
- Mash them together into a smooth mixture.
- Mix onions, oil, salt and chilis to the mixture.
- Chokha is ready.
Have you ever experimented with a recipe from another cuisine? What was your experience? Will you try Litti Chokha? Share in the comments below.