Thalipeeth is the perfect recipe to clean out the larder of leftover lentils before stocking the year’s fresh harvest.
Thalipeeth is a traditional Maharashtrian flatbread named for the way the dough is pressed into shape, using the palm of the hand. Thalipeeth can be made with a variety of different ingredients and flour mixes, but all of them call for patting the dough into a flat disc with an open palm. The reason that thalipeeth is flattened this way is because the dough does not contain gluten, and cannot therefore, be rolled or stretched into shape. In some regions, thalipeeth is also known as dhapata, for the same reason — dhapata means to pat (into shape).
The most beloved thalipeeth is made with a multigrain flour mix called bhajani. Chopped onions, herbs, and other seasonings of choice are added to the dough, and then patted flat onto a tava or griddle, shallow fried in a little oil, and served with fresh butter and a fiery thecha. Bhajani literally translates to roasted flour: this flour combines rice, millets, and lentils that have first been roasted, then ground, before kneading into dough.
There is also a sabudana thalipeeth that is eaten during religious fasts: soaked and drained sago pearls are mixed with potato and a sprinkling of crushed peanuts, then seasoned with red chilli powder and salt.
But multigrain thalipeeth has a special place in our home. My mother-in-law would prepare thalipeeth bhajani just before Diwali each year. It was the perfect recipe to clean out the larder of leftover lentils before stocking the year’s fresh harvest. In fact, thalipeeth may even have been born of this annual ritual. My mother-in-law would always go through her tins, and add bits and bobs of any unused lentils nearing their best-before period. The flour mix will last a year, but is best consumed within 6 months. . Either way, the aroma of fresh ground bhajani is irresistible.
This is our family's thalipeeth recipe; add or take away from the mix as you will. Use my tips below for easy shaping and you should be able to tackle hungry groups quite efficiently.
RECIPE: Mrs Shashi Matange's Thalipeeth Bhajani
To make bhajani
1kg bajra (pearl millet)
500g chana dal
500g jowar (sorghum)
250g skinned mung dal
300g skinned urad dal
250g coriander seeds
Rinse all ingredients except coriander seeds. Drain and spread on cotton towels to dry for a few hours.
In a kadahi, lightly roast all the ingredient separately.
Cool and grind into a fine flour. Best if ground at the flour mill.
To make the thalipeeth
1 cup thalipeeth bhajani (recipe above)
1 medium onion (1/2 cup), chopped
2 or 3 green chillies, chopped fine
Freshly chopped coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup water to knead
Peanut oil, for frying
Mix the above ingredients into a pliable dough. Divide into 4 equal sized balls.
Heat a cast iron tava.
Place a piece of parchment on your work surface. Place a ball of dough on it. Pat it down gently into a 5mm disc of about 10-15cm in diameter. With your finger make a hole in the centre.
Lift the thalipeeth togehter with the parchment, and flip it onto the hot skillet. Peel off the paper and set aside. It can be re-used.
Drizzle a little oil around the edges of the disc on the skillet, and in the centre. Cover with a lid and allow to cook until golden. Flip and cook the other side as well.
Serve with fresh cream or butter, a smear of hot thecha, and dahi.
Anita Tikoo Matange is a practicing Landscape Architect and Ecological Planner with a strong interest in sustainability, food, and gardening. She also conducts workshops on baking sourdough bread. You can follow her here.
ALSO ON THE GOYA JOURNAL