How baffling and somewhat mystic is the complexity and nuiances of web of emotions, us humans, have weaved through the evolution. I wonder so often when and how our ancestors who were hunting, learning to lit fire, domesticate the animals, form packs, started to do things which were beyond basics, beyond mere survival; sort of graduating towards top of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (This is how Maslow’s prism looks like). In those hundred and thousands of years of evolution somewhere our species learned to cook and satisfy our palates instead of just producing energy to survive. It overwhelms me to think how food is not just food for us; it is so many emotions, trails and errors, accidents and journey of our ancestors through thousands and thousands of years.
I have realized I cook out of nostalgia most of the times. I feel a connection with a place, that passed moment of time, people, family, loved ones through food. I search for forgotten but known flavours in the rustic streets of past and taste the memory of that time. I vividly remember my old house, small cozy kitchen and smiling faces around the rounds of food everybody loved. I remember how it smelled, how those dishes looked, how warm the day was, the creases of faces, the greasy fingers, how mom would insist for one more hot poori, how papa wanted all of us to eat from one plate; he believed and still believes that eating together is the key to being closer. Ahhh I remember it all and so fondly! Festivals make me even more nostalgic. It is through food, I try to live all of it again. I try to cook all that mummy used to.
Yesterday was Karwachauth; Indian festivals when wives fast for the well being of their husbands. There is some charm to this festival, it’s bright, shinning and happy. It’s like grown up romance but cute. Through out the day empty, growling stomach reminds you that yes..yes you love that lazy, fat, middle age man who can’t tell red from pink or what you wore in morning, to the moon and back. So you dress up like a bride again and wait for the moon like never before. The moon is beautiful this day, fast is over and you like to believe that with some magicals powers you starved for the long life of your husband.
The day was always exciting at home. From all the shenanigans, I remember all the food mom used to make. I never realized then but now I know how difficult it is to cook with empty stomach. Respect mom!! Now far from home, I try to relive the day and create the same excitement. So I made these ‘Chawal ke phare’ or stuffed dumplings just like mom used to make every Karwachauth. I absolutely loved them.
These cute dumplings are made of rice flour stuffed with spicy aromatic lentils. These are steam cooked or by dipping in boiling water. Cut into pieces and slightly fried again for that extra crunch. I like anything made of rice flour. It has very distinct earthy taste. These are soft, crunchy, spicy and smell so heavenly. Taste so much better when served with coriander chutney. (Ohh check out here for making coriander chutney; a perfect partner for these phare). In fact sweet, spicy and tangy tamarind chutney also goes very well with these dumplings. These can be little tricky to make as rice flour is little difficult to work with; but don’t worry, just follow the recipe and it will be sorted.
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup Chana daal (split bengal gram)
- 1/2 cup urad daal (split black gram-skinned)
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2-3 green chili
- Chopped mint leaves
- Chopped coriander leaves
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper corns
- 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
- Soak chana daal and urad daal for 4-6 hours.
- Boil water and add to the rice flour. You may need little more than 1 cup of water.
- Gently mix flour and water. Knead it well with hands. When done cover it and keep it aside for 15-20 minutes.
- Coarsely blend chana and urad daal. Don't make a fine paste. Daal should be coarse.
- Dry roast the spices coriander seeds, cumin seeds, pepper corns and asafoetida on a pan. When seeds start to crackle, take them off the heat and blend.
- In a pan, heat oil and add sliced green chili and grated ginger. Add blended daal in the pan.
- Add turmeric powder, 1 tablespoon of blended spices,salt, chopped mint and coriander leaves.
- Mix everything very well and let daal cook for 3-4 minutes.
- When done let the mixture cool down to room temperature.
- To make phare or dumpling, boil water in a deep pan.
- Roll kneaded flour, add daal mixture and gently close the dumpling with fingers.
- Transfer these dumplings in boiling water. In a minute or two these dumplings will come on surface. Take them out when done.
- You can also steam them to cook.
- Let the dumplings cool down to room temperature and using a sharp knife cut them into small pieces.
- In a separate pan, heat some oil and add cumin seeds and asafoetida, then add pieces of phare or dumplings. Let them fry till crisp each side.
- Serve with coriander chutney.