Home Made Chana Bhatura

close class bhature

There are some Indian dishes which I  assumed would be impossible to recreate at home unless you’ve spent half your life sitting behind a giant karhai somewhere in Old Delhi.  One of these is Chana Bhatura, that meltingly more-ish chick pea and deep fried bread combo that can make me weak with longing.

Then I met cookery teacher Anita Dhanda, who runs a class at the American School here in Delhi.  Over the course of 10 weeks she unlocks the mysteries of  parantha, palak paneer, halwa, kheer, keema, dal makhani and much more.

One of the many splendid things about Anita, apart from her winning pinny and kurta combos, is her ability to make it all look so simple. She was also generous with her time-tested family recipes including this, her mother’s recipe for Chana Bhatura.  I’ve made this a few times at home and it’s a winner and I’m always instantly transported back to  Sita Ram Diwan Chand – the only thing  missing is the flies.

So here is Anita’s  mum’s easy peasy, home kitchen-friendly, 100% pukka Chana Bhatura – guaranteed to make you feel as if you’re sitting cross-legged at a kharai:

anita

Chana Pindi

Ingredients

1 and half cups chick peas (chana)

1 tbs chopped ginger

1tsp each coriander powder, roasted cumin powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, mango or ground pomegranate seed (anardana) powder, cumin seeds

2tbs ghee

salt, bay leaf,bicarbonate of soda.

Method

Wash and soak the chick peas overnight.  Drain then add 5-6 cups fresh water.  Add the bicarbonate of soda,  bay and ginger and boil, covered, until very soft. When the chick peas are ready – this will vary according to the freshness of the peas – add coriander, chilli, garam masala, mango or anardana powder, and roast ground cumin powder. Bring back to the boil and stir well to blend all the spices.

chaunk

chaunk

In a small pan or ‘chaunk’*, melt the ghee until smoking. Add the cumin seeds and let them crackle for a few seconds. then pour over the chick peas.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.  If the mixture is too watery, mash some of the chick peas into the liquid to thicken. Check seasonings, add a few pieces of cooked potato if desired. This next bit  requires restraint but the Chana is even better if left for a few hours to let the flavours meld before devouring greedily with fresh  bhatura.

*My ‘Chaunk’, also known as a ‘Tarka’, is  a new favourite piece of kitchen equipment.  It’s like a small frying-pan on the end of a long handle  and is used for  ‘tempering’, just before a dish is served: oil or ghee is melted until smoking then spices like whole cumin, or mustard seeds are added and left to sizzle for  a few seconds.  It fills the kitchen with the most intensely inviting smells before adding that final flourish to a dish.  According to Anita, it’s a process which many modern cooks  don’t bother with but I’m a convert – it gives the food a freshness and pep it wouldn’t otherwise have.

The Bhatura is a little trickier and you may not get that magnificent balloon shape first time, but the ones in the picture were made by us first-timers in the cookery class and they tasted delicious.

Purists be warned – Anita’s recipe contains non-traditional mashed potato.  She says her mum always puts it in for extra crunch.

class bhatureBhatura

Ingredients

1 cup plain flour (maida)

1 cup semolina (sooji)

1 potato boiled and mashed

2 tbs yogurt

2 tsp oil

half tsp salt

extra oil for deep frying

Method

Mix all the ingredients together and bind to a soft dough with water. Leave to ferment for 5-6 hours.  Break off pieces of dough and roll into balls.  Dip each ball into oil then roll out thinly.  Heat oil in a karhai until really hot – to test if the oil is hot enough, drop in a small amount of dough – it should instantly rise to the top. Carefully put in one of the rolled out discs. With a metal slotted spoon, press the bhatura down in the centre of the oil and it should instantly puff up.  Quickly remove the bhatura to drain on kitchen roll. The cooking process takes only a few seconds.  If your first bhatura is very oily, it means the oil wasn’t hot enough.

As well as slices of onions, Anita had also prepared a ‘Sonth’, a sweet and sour dip which complemented the other savoury dishes perfectly

Sonth

Ingredients

1 tbsp dried mango powder (amchur)

3 tbsp sugar

half tsp roasted cumin powder

quarter tsp each of red chilli powder, salt, garam masala

quarter cup water

Method

Mix all ingredients and cook on low flame till thick and syrupy

‘Sonth’ is also good with snacks like samosas and pakoras

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30 thoughts on “Home Made Chana Bhatura

  1. this made me drool……….just posted a stuffed kulcha recipe, kulcha is a non fried version of bhatura…check out.
    and the sonth sound good too….i make it with tamarind pulp.

  2. It’s so interesting, and fascinating, to “read India with your eyes” :) through this cuisine, that I love so much.
    Thank you !
    A presto :)

  3. Hi Federica
    Thanks for your comment – wish my Italian was good enough to read your blog!

  4. This looks absolutely inviting and reminds me that I haven’t had this in ages, looking forward to giving your version a try soon :-)

  5. Thanks.After drooling over the Sita Ram’s Chaan batura.I was thinking must google for an easy recpie.!;-))

  6. Hello,
    I recently came upon your fantastic blog, and am enjoying reading it. Is this recipe for bhaturas complete? So far I have always made bhaturas with egg/dahi/and baking powder, but these looked much more like the street balloons!

    I ahve just tried out the recipe, measuring carefully, and they are hardly puffing up, and very difficult to roll out thin (too ela-sticky). Is the semolina of any special kind?

    I live in (food-obsessed spain) so am wondering where the difference might lie that could explain my slightly disappointing results.

  7. Hi Bawa – thanks for your comment. I just went back to the original class handout from Anita and the recipe is correct, if a little unorthodox, with the use of mashed potato. I’ve made it a few times at home myself and it has always worked out though. I wonder if you had too much water in the dough – it should be soft but not sticky. Also, covering each little ball in a tiny bit of oil should stop it sticking when you’re rolling it out. The other thing is the oil has to be really hot and the bhatura should puff up almost immediately – pressing down with a metal slotted spoon helps this too.
    Bhatura is not the easiest recipe to master, it takes a bit of trial and error – all the best, good luck, Pamela

  8. Thanks for checking, will just have to try again! It is so different from my usual recipe (egg/dahi/bicarb) that I have to get this right!
    Your blog sort of inspired me to think back on the street foods that were our favourites. As I did not live in Delhi capital, most of it were people who came round in carts, or on foot and the first one I remember was someone called “Panditji”, impeccably dressed in a nehru cap and khadi kurta-pijama, who sold the best kulchas and channas that he carried out in an earthenware jar (like the ones for mango pickles). Happened to live almost next door to the best samosa and gulab jamun place EVER – any visitors demanded these for tea- one of the sons moved down the road and still carries on the tradtition, although they are sold out within well within an hour of their making at 4:30. On rush days, there is even a man with a stick to maintain the queue and samosas are rationed to a max of 2 per person! Other delights were a Rajasthani man coming round once in while with various tins full of different “bhujias” “and “boondi” and the college canteen served a delicious version of the well known student standby called bread pakora. One of the best shops was the pickle shop in the bazaar, where you felt like taking some parathas and sampling more than the 2 dozen varieties of achaars on offer, including large stuffed red chillies. Maybe you have already come across these in Delhi. Another fantastic taste was from “langars” communal meals in Sikh gurudwaras. If you ever go round Delhi and India, try to partake of the langar in any gurudwara. As you mention spending time in Kulu valley, Manikaran gurudwara used to do a smashing langar of “rajma and chawal” cooked on the slow steam from the hot springs!

  9. Hi Bawa – thank you for sharing your lovely food memories – I wish we had some of these cart-wallahs in my neighbourhood. Good luck with the bhatura!

  10. Will let you know. At the moment am struggling to reproduce the bhallas of the chaatwallah in my kitchen.
    They are good memories, and want me to take a flight straight back when I read your blog.
    Live in a food-obssesed part of the world, but of a totally different kind (the Basque country). It is fantastic, but miss all the street foods.

  11. Please can you tell me how much Bicarb of soda should be in the Chana – i am going to attempt the recipe tonight ahead of a dinner party tomorrow!

  12. Pingback: Cooking the Book: Recipes from Korma Kheer and Kismet – 1. Sita Ram Diwan Chand’s Chana Bhatura | eat and dust

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