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Mum's Dhal-stuffed Rotis

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

Today I learned how to make dhal-stuffed rotis. Rotis, to those that are unfamiliar, are round flatbreads made from wheat-based flours. They are quite common in Indian households for everyday cooking and eating. Dhal is what we call different type of lentils and dried peas. Typical everyday meals include roti and some sort of curry. Yummy! A typical everyday roti is not terribly difficult to make. Just the right combination of flour and hot water is needed to make a nice dough that can then be divided into smaller dough pieces, rolled out into a circle and cooked over a griddle or crepe pan. Easy peasy.

Mum decided to make dhal-stuffed rotis today. In all my years of being alive, I thought I had the basic idea of how to make this. Apparently, I was very wrong. Learn something new everyday right? Anyways, the basic roti dough recipe remains the same. This gets made a bit later in the recipe. The first thing is to work on the dhal. So she used yellow split peas for this. We call it "mattar ke dhal" but to be quite honest all the dried dhals look the same to me so I am also still learning how to name all the dhals we eat. This recipe takes a couple of hours to make so this gets made on special occasions typically.

So back to making the dhal. First step is to boil the dhal with some turmeric and salt.

Once dhal is boiled to where it is cooked but not mushy (the edges will start to look soft and the inside will mainly be cooked but still whole). Then dhal should be drained. In the same pot, add some ghee (clarified butter) and heat it up. Then add whole garlic cloves and pieces of whole ginger (peeled of course), handful of chilis (can be left out), some cumin seeds and curry leaves. After cooking for a minute or two, add the boiled dhal. Stir well to coat everything. Let the mixture cook for a bit longer until all the flavors are incorporated.

After this step, the dhal mixture has to cool down. Once it is cooled, it then goes into the food processor and ground until the dhal mixture forms very small granules. It almost becomes velvety to touch and is able to form large loose clumps. This recipe makes a lot of dhal. This is because mum freezes whatever she doesn’t use and saves it for the next time she makes this recipe. And this is why I thought the dhal stuffing just magically came out of the freezer in neat little plastic bags.

After the dhal mixture is ground, you can work on the roti dough. This is basically, flour mixed with boiling water to form a soft dough. Dough should be soft but slightly stretchy. Once dough is done, divide into small dough balls. It should roughly fit inside the palm of your hand well. Then roll out dough ball into a small circle.