Litti- Chokha is a traditional dish from the state of Bihar. Litti is a baked/chargrilled dough ball that is stuffed with roasted gram flour and a herb-spice mix. It's an awesome combination of protein and carbs. In addition, it has a great shelf life and is quite popular back home in India.
My earliest memories of Litti is when one of my uncles used to cook them in our courtyard. The whole "event" was done on a massive scale. He always used to make around a hundred/hundred-fifty litties for our large family. A few folks were assigned to be his helpers for doing things. It was strictly a man's business then. Ladies were only expected to make chokha and chutney to go with them.
My Litti Making Journey
One snowy, wintery night, 12-13 years ago in New Jersey, My husband and I, along with a few of our friends were trying to make Litti. Unfortunately, we had no experience in making this signature dish of Bihar, though we all were from Bihar. Finally, when it came out of the oven, with all our effort, it was rock-solid. So, as in all food-fail situations, pizza saved the day. Well, I still remember, while making these litties, we wasted almost half of the pure ghee from India one of our friends received from her mother. Well, she was nice enough not to kill us that night!!!!!!
So for a few years, I didn't try to make litties at all, until one of my husband's colleagues invited us for dinner. He made Litti Chokha that was really good. He gave me hope again and armed with his directions and my mom's advice, I tried it again.
Voila!!!!! It was a success this time, and after that I was unstoppable. We had Litti parties for friends in Minneapolis winters quite a few times and those cold days were brighter and cheerful because of those get-togethers, I must say.
Those were different times, however. I love to make litties and I finally perfected the art of cooking it in the oven. It tastes awesome but I still miss the litti which is traditionally cooked over the low flame of cow-dung cakes. You need to be an expert in it and litties cooked this way is charred and gives a wonderful smoky flavour.
What is Litti?
Litti-chokha is a protein-packed powerhouse. Litti is stuffed with a spicy mixture of roasted gram flour/sattu. It tastes good with charred tomatoes, eggplant bharta, and aloo chokha which is nothing but spiced Indian style mashed potatoes, and a charred eggplant dip. One more interesting fact is that leftover litti tastes even better the next day, so I always make the quantity double to have leftovers.
So for the first blog post of this new year, I thought of making my new start with a recipe that comes from my roots and for which I am always proud to be associated.
This winter, make this awesome dish of Bihar, dunk it into ghee and experience sheer bliss with your family and friends!!!!!!!
You may want to check these baked recipes,
For making Litti dough
- 3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
- 3 Tbsp Ghee(No oil please)
- 3 Tbsp Yoghurt/Home made curd
- ½ Tsp Salt
- Water ,for kneading the dough.
For Sattu Stuffing
- 1.5 Cups Sattu(Folks in US, 24 mantra organic sattu flour is available in all Indian grocery stores.
- 1 Tbsp Mustard Oil (for authentic taste, using mustard oil is a must)
- 1 Medium Thinly chopped onion
- 6-8 Cloves Finely chopped garlic
- ½ Tsp Carrom Seeds/Ajwain Seeds
- ¼ Cups Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 Juice from one lime/lemon
- 2 Tbsp Mango pickle masala, I use Ahmed mango pickle- very close to Bihari mango pickle
- Salt to taste
- 1 Tbsp Chopped green chilies
- ½ Tbsp Grated ginger
- 1-2 Tbsp Water to use if the stuffing is quite dry
Making of Chokha/Roasted eggplant and tomato dip
- 1 Medium Eggplant (without any seeds, fresh)
- 2 Big Vine ripe tomatoes/Any tomato of your choice
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 2 Green Chilies (you can reduce the quantiy)
- 1 Tbsp Mustard Oil
- 1 Tbsp Chopped red onion
- 1 Tbsp Fresh chopped Cilantro
- Salt to taste
The Making of Litti Dough
- Take flour in a big bowl.
- Add salt to it and whisk it.
- Add ghee and with help of your palm rub, it nicely. Ghee and flour should incorporate properly.
- With the help of yoghurt mix everything together and make a soft and supple dough.
- If it's not coming together, you can use a little bit of water. You should work at least 8 to 10 minutes for the perfect dough.
- You can always use your stand mixture for preparing the dough. I prefer making dough in it.
- Brush the dough with a little bit of oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep it aside.
Making of Sattu Stuffing-
- Mix everything together with your hands. Obviously, you can use a spoon but I totally believe in getting my hands dirty while working in the kitchen.
How to Stuff Litti
- Divide dough into 12-13 equal size dough balls.
- The size shouldn't be very small or big.
- Take one dough ball into your left palm.
- Flatten it with the help of your other hand (not much).
- Place around 1-2 spoons of stuffing on it. Push it and cover it from all sides.
- Roll it on your palm and make a round stuffed dough ball.
- Make all the litti like that and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake it for 25-30 minutes or till it is perfectly cooked and evenly brown.
- Flip it a few times to make sure it's even. Depending on your oven and the size of your dough ball, your time can increase or decrease.
- After removing from the oven grill it on the gas stove or out side grill for a charred effect.
- Immediately dip it into the melted hot ghee to keep it soft for a long time.
- Dipping in ghee gives a soft, crumbly texture.
- Your litti is ready to enjoy.
Making of Chokha/Bharta/Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Dip
- Wash and dry your eggplant and tomatoes.
- Make a slit in the eggplant. Make sure it doesn't break into two parts.
- Prick tomatoes with a fork or toothpick.
- Brush the skin of eggplant or tomatoes with some oil.
- Roast it on the open flame, oven, or air fryer. Temp should be 375 f for both.
- After roasting them cover with tin foil for 5-10 minutes.
- That will help in peeling.
- Remove the skin. Mash the eggplant and tomato with a potato masher.
- Mix everything written under the ingredients.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Enjoy with hot litti!!