Story of Dough balls

Looks like a gallery of baked dough balls right!! Coincidentally, none of them are same – in taste, style of cooking or even the history of how they came into existence! But all are considered as a complete whole meal, consisting of wheat and pulses.

Daal Baati Choorma

It is the House of Mewar who come out with a combination of bland, spicy and sweet to create an unforgettable meal that is known as Daal Baati Choorma. Even though the exact root of origin is unknown, Dal Baati Choorma has been an important part of Rajasthani cuisine since time immemorial and was often considered as wartime meal. It’s said that during the time of battles, the Rajput leaders used to leave the chunked dough buried in the sand before leaving for the war. By the time they returned, the scorching heat of the sun used to turn them into baked chunks. These perfectly baked baatis were then slathered with ghee, and consumed along with some curd or buttermilk obtained from goat or camel milk. 

As the dish became popular throughout Rajasthan, each local dynasty added its own twist to the combination. Eventually, baati became the biggest import into the Mughal court with Rani Jodha Bai. Mughal chefs added their own iteration to the simple dish – the baafla baati (a baati that has been boiled before being baked) and Kheech (daliya porridge). Legend has it that Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur, was able to regain his state from Rana Khumbar of Mewar after 15 years because of a bowl of kheech.

Interestingly, both Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh consider Dal Paniya and Dal Bafla as part of tribal cuisine. While the paniya roti is made with cornmeal, baked in an open pit-style oven and combined with wild fowl curry and red ants chutney; The traditional bafla are whole wheat ‘dumplings’ typically boiled in water, roasted over dung cakes on an iron griddle and dunked in ghee, and served as a thali meal with dal, kadhi, aloo sabzi and chutneys of garlic and coriander, often rounded off with laddus.

Litthi Chokha

Another culinary gem that belongs to the state of Bihar – made of the same ingredient as Baati, except for one ace ingredient, the spice factor sattu.

Litti was first cooked in the Magadh kingdom before becoming popular in Bihar. Litti was an apparent staple food in the court of Magadh and places around it. Litti rose to prominence during the 1857 war of independence, especially to the likings of Tatya Tope and Rani Lakshmi Bai, mainly because it needed very less water, could be baked without using any utensils thus making it an easy dish to prepare, and stayed fresh for as long as two to three days. New rulers brought it new additions and variations – in the Mughal empire, the litthis were served with shorbas and payas, while the Britishers preferred it to be served with a curry.

Rice Appe

Appe is a shallow fried dumpling or roundels prepared with rice and urad dal or with the batter of addition of mixed lentils like chana dal, urad dal and flattened rice. Generally, rice appe is widely prepared in West coast of India Konkan in parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. In Kerala – appam, unniappam (small appam), neyyappam (appam cooked in ghee), kuzhiappam (cooked in a kuzhi or cavity) Ganapathi appam, and koottappam (a pile of appams) are popular names. In Tamil Nadu both appam and adhirasam made by deep frying a fermented batter of the same ingredients are popular.  It is called appe in south Karnataka and it is a must for Ganesha puja. In Coorg in southwestern Karnataka it is called kajjaya. The Konkani community of Karnataka prepares it with semolina and either jackfruit or banana and call it Mulik.  In Andhra Pradesh it is known as atrasalu and ariselu, and if it is deep fried in ghee it is called nethi ariselu. Though it is known differently in different regions, what makes this a popular breakfast choice is that it is made with some easily available ingredients. 

Rice Appe, Maharashtra. Also known as paddu, appe, guliappa, gulttu, gundponglu, ponganalu in South India

Unlike the royal beginnings of the dough balls, the Appes of the south are deeply ingrained as part of auspicious and religious occasions. For instance, at the Ganapathi temple at Vazhappally in south Kerala, the sacred offering is called Ganapathi appam. Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple is dedicated to Vishnu in Koviladi, Tamil Nadu. At this Vishnu temple, the belief is that when Vishu disguised as an old man was offered a potful of appams by King Ubharisaravasu, the lord laid down there with the pot to enjoy them. Hence, the Lord here is known as “Appakkudathaan” and “Appala Ranganathan”.

Interesting Read: Appam as Temple food


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Food for Thought

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