Friday, 22 July 2011

Hinger Kochuri

Do you love kochuri? I love kochuri. Unequivocally.There isn't a decent kochuri place between my home and Amherst Street that I haven't patronised, despite the ever-present danger of severe diarrhoea or the cook's sweat garnishing the potato curry. I'm brave like that.

But even an ardent fan like me has preferences. If anything, perhaps more sharply etched preferences than most. I love korashutir kochuri and daalpuri, and machher kochuri and hinger kochuri, but I can't say I love them equally, in a spirit of disinterested fairness. If it's winter, the peas are in season, fresh and sweet, and I'll have to say koraishutir kochuri leaves the competition far behind. If we're entertaining and there's really good freshwater rui (carp) in the market that day, the deliciously savoury machher kochuri would be a staple for tea. Daalpuri doesn't have a season, but it's easy availability is probably what makes it less special.

But even when hing floods the market and biulir daal drowns the competition, hinger kochuri -- puris stuffed with asafoetida-flavoured ground daal -- rules the roost. It's appeal is not in rarity, but in the sheer punch of its assertive flavour. Plus, you can eat it by itself, or with a potato curry, or with a hing-flavoured pumpkin stir-fry. You can serve it for breakfast or for tea, or at any time in between. It never gets old, and it's wonderful.

And yes, like all stuffed flatbreads, it takes a bit of effort, but like stuffed flatbreads, it's also completely worth it. Plus, the process gets easier and quicker the oftener you make it. These days, I can start from scratch and make a stack of aloo paratha in thirty minutes.

So, here's what you need:

Biulir daal, ground with a little water (or buy powdered daal, and mix water to make a really thick batter).

Whole jeera.

Fresh hing, which you need only about half an inch of, diced.

Plus you also need moida and aata (all-purpose/refined flour and whole-wheat flour) to make the puris with. You can skip the refined flour completely, but if you can't, add it in a 1:3 ratio to whole-wheat. Mix a little salt and sugar to this, add slightly warm water, and make a stretchy dough. Keep it aside. 

After grinding the whole daal with a little water, or mixing powdered daal with water to make a paste, heat a tablespoon of sunflower/canola oil (I've never tried this with olive, and since both hing and olive have strong flavours, I wouldn't risk an experiment. Braver souls than I may try, and get back to me).When the oil is hot, lower the flame completely and roll it around the wok, to coat the surfaces. Non-greased surface will make the daal char.

Toss the diced hing into the oil. Don't let it fry for too long, or it'll get inedibly bitter. Give it about twenty seconds, then add half a teaspoon of jeera. Raise the flame to medium-low, and toss this about for another twenty seconds. You should be able to smell the rather strong aroma of fried hing at this point. Defuse it by pouring in the thick daal-batter.

Mix it all up, and keep stirring as the mixture absorbs oil and cooks. It will sick to the bottom and sides of the pan like a leech. Worry not! Most of it comes off, like a crispy sheet of edible paper, when the batter's all done. For proof, peer into the picture below. See how I'm using the stickiness of the glob of daal to roll up the papery layer sticking to the wok?

When it reaches this stage, and is a nice shade between deep cream and light brown, your work is done. Take it off the hot wok and dump it into a cooler dish.

Now, proceed to make little balls of the dough, stuff them with this cooked filling, roll them out and fry them, as shown in the detailed how-to here. Serve either by itself, or with a basic potato-and-pumpkin curry, the recipe for which may follow at later :-)


Many =)