Litti Chokha from Bihar
Bihar is one of the Northern states of India. Neighboring states are West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh and shares an international border with Nepal in the North. Like with any other state, neighboring states have influenced the cuisine of the state. Bihari cuisine is mainly vegetarian but the cuisine also has some non-vegetarian food. Fish is a common food considering the number of rivers flowing through the state and the great Ganges is one of them. Chicken and mutton are the most consumed meats in the state. Dairy products such as yogurt, buttermilk, butter are part of the cuisine.
Cuisine is lot similar to the North Indian cuisine and is also influenced by the Bengali cuisine, the neighboring state in the east. Food served changes seasonally and so does the traditional thali. No matter which reason, the thali always has rice, roti, achar & dal and some form of dairy products. Mustard oil as well vegetable oil is used for cooking and like the Bengali’s Bihari’s also use panchforan, a mixture of 5 spices; cumin, kalongi ~ onion seeds, saunf ~ fennel, mustard and carom seeds ~ ajwain. One of the unique techniques used in this cooking is fire roasting vegetables and chilies, specially to prepare chokha. Chokha is mashed vegetable preparation, usually prepared with potatoes, tomatoes and brinjal. One of the three vegetables or a combination of these three is used to prepare chokha. Chokha is similar to the famous bhartha with a slight variation in preparation.
Some of the popular foods from this state are sattu paratha, litti, chokha, Bihari kababs and Postaa-dana kaa halwaa. If I am not mistaken, posta dana ka halwa is halwa prepared with poppy seeds. Some of the traditional foods from the region are khichdi, kadhi bari, pitha, dhuska, litti chokha, thekua to name a few. The region of Champaran is famous for a mutton grilled dish called Taash. Thekua is a sweet made with whole wheat flour and jaggery or sugar. It is usually prepared as offering to god on Chhat Puja.
Sattu is a powder of fried chana dal or daliya or putnalu in Telugu. This powder is considered very high energy food and it is used as filling to make parathas and litti.
Kadhi Bari – Bari are fried dumpling made with gram flour. Seasoned gram flour dough is made into small balls and deep fried. These are then added to kadhi. Kadhi is spicy yogurt gravy and gram flour.
Pitha – are similar to momos, which could be salty or sweet. The base of the momos is made with rice flour, stuffed with filling and steamed.
Today’s recipe is a popular food from Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Litti Chokha is a common food in the Bihar, served for breakfast or as a tea time snack and sometimes even for lunch with dal. Litti is similar Bati from Rajasthan but litti is stuffed with seasoned fried gram flour powder and baked on coal or in an oven. I initially wanted to make only chokha but then decided to make litti as well. I liked them a lot and Mr.U liked the chokha. I think he would have liked litti had I used ground chicken for the filling. Next time I make the litti, I am going to use it instead of sattu and have a feeling he will love it. I do not know if those will still be called litti.
When i took the pictures, I forgot to take a picture of bowl of chokha. The photo above was taken the next day. The day and time of the day makes a huge difference on how the color of the food looks in photos. I used the same wooden boards for the background and backdrop in all the photos but the bowl of chokha photo was taken next day. The color of the board looks different in bowl of chokha photo. If I remember, it was cloudy on the evening I made these and next day was bright and sunny. Hence you can see how bright and colorful the photo looks in the third picture, bowl of chokha. I did not adjust or edit the color of any of the photos. The only editing was watermark and added bit of sharpness to the photos.
Source: UK Rasoi
- 6 Baby Potatoes or 1 cup boiled and mashed Potatoes
- 1 large Tomato
- 3 big Cloves Garlic
- 1/3 – ½ cup chopped Onion or ½ large Onion chopped
- 1 – 2 Green Chilies (I used 2)
- ½ tbsp. grated Ginger
- 1 tsp. Mustard Oil
- 1 – 2 tbsp. chopped Coriander Leaves ~ Cilantro
- Boil potatoes and mash them coarsely and keep it aside.
- Roast garlic and tomatoes on gas flame or in the oven. If roasting in the oven, place it in 400 F oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until roasted. I tried roasting it in cast iron pan. Garlic roasted fine and even the tomatoes also roasted fine. But since the oven was on, after roasting for 5 – 7 minutes in a pan, I put them in the oven along with the litti for 12 minutes.
- Cool and remove the skin of the tomato. The skin will easily come off if the tomatoes are roasted properly. Mash garlic and tomatoes with a back of a spoon.
- Mix all the ingredients listed on chokha and it is ready to serve.
- Mustard oil is a must to get the true flavors of chokha. But a very good substitute for mustard oil would be extra virgin olive oil in this recipe, as oil is not heated in this recipe. Even olive oil would work.
- 2 cups Wheat Flour
- ½ tsp Ajwain ~ Carom Seeds
- 2 tbsp. Butter
- ¼ tsp. Baking Soda
- 1/3 tsp. Salt
- 2/3 – ¾ cups Water or the amount required to knead the dough
- ½ cup Dhaliya and when powdered it was 2/3 cups
- 1 – 2 Green Chilies (I used 2)
- ¼ cup chopped Coriander Leaves ~ Cilantro
- ½ – ¾” long Ginger chopped
- ½ tsp. Ajwain ~ Carom Seeds
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 1 tbsp. Lime ~ Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp. Mustard Oil
- Sieve the flour and make soft dough using all the ingredients listed under litti. Cover and keep it aside for 30 minutes.
- Filling: Lightly toast daliya in a dry pan. Cool it and then grid it to powder. This step can be skipped.
- Mix all the ingredients listed under stuffing and mix well. The texture will be crumbly. If required add some water but it should not be runny.
- Make the Litti: Make 10 – 12 balls with the dough. Take each ball in palms and make a 3-4” diameter discs, like small poori or chapati. Do not use any flour.
- Place 1 ½ – 2 tsp. of filling in middle of each disc, cover the filling by wrapping the dough around the filling on all sides to form a pouch to make round ball. Press the ball between palms to flatten the litti. While covering the dough disc around the filling, there will be some excess dough. Pinch it off the litti or can press it into litti. I did both, for few I pinched off the excess dough and for some I just pressed back into litti. I liked the ones for which I pinched off the dough.
- Traditionally litti is cooked on fire or tandoor. In modern kitchens, over or stove top cooking works. Bake in preheated 400F over for 20 – 30 minutes. I baked for 28 minutes and I felt I should have removed it sooner. Turn the sides 2-3 times while baking.
- I wanted to see how stove top cooked litti tastes. I kept aside one litti to cook on the stove. For cooking on stovetop, heat a pan. I used a cast iron. Place the litti on a hot pan and cook it on both sides. Cook it on sides to as shown in the picture. I cooked it on medium low – low heat. It took about 4-6 minutes. Then using tongs grill it on the direct fire.
- Break litti into two and pour melted butter or ghee on it. Or dip broken litti in ghee or butter. Or just pour butter on the litti. I liked pouring litti on broken litti. I dipped one broken litti in ghee for the photos and that was so good.
- Serve litti with coriander chutney and / or chokha.
- 1 tbsp. of yogurt can be added to flour when kneading the dough.
- Litti taste good when fresh. I baked litti 1 hour before I served them as I need to take pictures too. And I made one litti on stovetop just before serving. The one made on stovetop was soft inside and crunchy outside.