In my recent trip to Rajasthan, I got to know bati quite intimately. Pankaj, a friendly local, exposed me to these delectable, roasted rolls at a restaurant, at a dhaba and even at a streetside gig (scroll down for pics). Quite impressed, I almost schlepped a large bati-pan back home to New York.
The whole-wheat roll, more of a country food (in contrast to royal cuisine), is usually elevated by copious amounts of ghee. What I present here is not your mother’s bati: I replace the dairy fat with another – cheese. With stunning results. The cheese provides an inimitable je-ne-sais-quoi, apt for both a savory as well as sweet accompaniments.
Moringa is a common member in the Indian pantry. What is unusual is the powder form of the leaves now available in over-priced jars. Touted as a superfood, it has the optics of matcha (Japanese green tea) including the grassy flavor and a hint of bitterness. Moringa marries the batis well, pushing the latter’s health-index off the charts. This goes very well with kalamata-hummus, a reinterpretation of the classic dal-bati duo.
I pair the moringa-less bati with a Sicilian jam (thanks to Filippo). This unusual confiture is made from Indian Fig and coffee beans.
Enjoy the batis as hors-d’œuvre or as dinner rolls!
An oven or just a toaster oven.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tsp ajwain seeds (carom) + 1/2 tsp salt
- Leavener: 1/8 tsp baking soda + 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano + 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 2 tbsp yogurt (2% fat) + little water to make a dough
- Optional: 2 tsp Moringa powder
Make a soft dough with all the ingredients. Rest the dough for 10-15 minutes. Make 8 lemon-sized balls. Place on a baking tray, lined with silicone mat or parchment. Brush the balls with cold water.
Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes. Rotate the tray and bake for another 10 minutes (until nicely browned). Serve hot.
NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:
- Absolutely simple to make. The flour I use here is atta, the durum flour that also has some bran in the mix (from the Punjabi diaspora in Canada).
- You can serve the batis with your usual spread, or with your meals -lunch or dinner, as it was originally intended ala the classic dal-bati combination.
- Batis can also be poached in water. Then they are deep-fried for a crusty outer surface.
- The amount of cheese in the recipe is just enough to give a hint of savory without being cheesy. But if you prefer cheesiness, you can double the amount of cheese.
- The ajwain provides an accent just like caraway to rye breads.
- The soda in the dough and the water-glaze on the surface, help brown the roll.
- Pankaj suggested using commercial Eno as the leavener. Eno is a combination of baking soda, citric acid and salt and is easily available in the Indian markets as a solution to indigestion. Perhaps because this is a more sanitized baking soda, many Gujarati/Rajasthani homes have been using this as a leavener for decades. Did Tarla Dalal (the Julia Child of India) start the trend?
Moringa version, in a toaster oven:
Dhaba bati: slow-cooked submerged in ambers, then cleaned, dunked in ghee and served on a thali.
(Left) Streetside bati accompanied by incredible functional (ass-to-grass) squats! (Right) Torn-up, deep-fried bati in a thali in a restaurant.