Sunday, January 11, 2015

Gatte ki Sabzi (Rajasthani Dumplings in Tomato & Yogurt Gravy

Here's a dish to surprise your Indian food-loving friends and family. Although Gatte ki Sabzi is an ancient dish of the desert state of Rajasthan, as popular today in Western India as ever, it rarely makes an appearance on menus in North American restaurants. True, the intensely heavy gatte - a long, slender "dumpling" made from chickpea flour - may be an acquired taste, but once you've fallen under its doughy spell you're hooked. Gattes can be incorporated into numerous sauces and gravies, or stir-fried with assorted vegetables, even cooked in a rice pilaf. Above are the boiled gattes, ready for slicing, and the next step, of almost any preparation you choose.

After cooling for a few minutes, the gattes are sliced into thin coins and added to the curry sauce.

Above, Gatte ki Sabzi with basmati rice, roasted eggplant salad and a vinegar-based coleslaw. Because the gattes are deeply dense in texture, it's best to serve them with plenty of sauce and a crunchy element for textural contrast.

Any uneaten Gatte ki Sabzi reheats well and will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to one week.

The splendors of leftovers. Gatte ki Sabzi with basmati rice, coleslaw and a green salad with a tahini dressing.

So, begin with a small mixing bowl and place in it: 1 cup chickpea flour (also known as besan or gram flour), 1/2 t. salt, a large pinch or two of turmeric powder, 1/2 t. cayenne pepper, 2 t. dried fenugreek leaves (crumble them well with your finger before adding) and 1/4 t. ajwain seeds. Ajwain seeds are available at every Indian food market but if you don't have them you can substitute 1/2 t. dried thyme. Now, slowly and stirring constantly, pour in just enough water needed to make a thick, smooth dough. Try to use no more than 1/2 cup of water. Knead the dough until it's less sticky and firm. Drizzle 2 t. of vegetable oil over the dough and knead again to incorporate. With damp hands, divide the dough into 4-6 parts and roll between your palms to get a sausage shape, about 3/4" in diameter. If the rolls are too thick the gattes won't cook properly. 

Add the rolled dough links to boiling water, just enough to cover. We use a deep skillet for this. Return to the water to a boil and partially cover with a lid. Boil vigorously for 15 minutes. Now and then check to see if anything's sticking to the bottom of the pan. If it is, dislodge gently with the back side of a spoon or fork.

Remove the dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon or large fork. Allow to cool. Discard cooking water. Now, you have made gattes

While the gattes are cooling, heat 1-2 T. vegetable oil in a deep skillet, preferably non-stick. Keep the flame to a medium heat while you add to the skillet 1/2 t. cumin seeds, a large dash of hing/asafoetida, 3-4 whole dried red chilies and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Stir now and then and cook for about 2 minutes. While the oil if flavoring, slice each gatte in to small coin shapes. Keep the slices thin. 

Crush two canned plum tomatoes with your hands and add them to the skillet. Cook for one minute before adding the sliced gattes. Stir fry constantly for a minute or two, until each gatte is covered with the oil and tomato. Reduce the heat to a low flame and cook for another minute while you whisk with vigor 1 cup of plain, whole milk yogurt. Slowly add the beaten yogurt to the skillet; stir to incorporate fully. 

Now add: another large dash of turmeric powder, 1 t. each of cumin powder and coriander powder, some minced hot, green chilies (the amount should be according to your personal heat preference) and 3/4 t. garam masala. Season with salt. You're gonna need at least 1 t. and probably more. Partially cover the skillet again and cook on a low simmer for 15 minutes. If the sauce gets too thick add up to 1 cup of water.

After 15 minutes remove from flame and check for seasoning. Add more salt if needed. Garnish with chopped cilantro and slivered scallions and serve hot with rice, chapatis or any sort of flatbread.

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