Indian Kitchen Basics - Making Gatte - Step by step guide

Ready to be used gatte
Making Rajasthani Gatte

The idea to do this struck me while I was re-organizing my kitchen shelves the other day! Not because it is 'the Diwali Season' but because I do it quite often - when I am bored or feeling extra energetic or sometimes when I wonder why I am feeling low and just need to check whether my energy levels are intact!! It is quite an obsession and sometimes a very very interesting one. I love having things in an orderly fashion, so much that even my music folder, recipe folder and picture folder in my hard drive are organized - no duplicate songs or pictures, every movie, every singer has his place and not one lyric or song is allowed to move out of its sanctioned territory. I realized that there is one place that hasn't seen any organization and it is something I am getting quite passionate about - my virtual space! With this series every month I plan to make (please note that it is only a plan!) and blog about an item that is versatile and forms the basic ingredient for more than one dish.

Did I tell you that I am a messy organizer? With that oxymoron letting you know what to expect, I kick off with something not so basic but something that will lend a special touch to your lunch menu. This is a revisited recipe but since it is something that will form a base for more recipes to come I decided to go ahead with the post.

'Gatta' is a Rajasthani delicacy used to make kadhis(yogurt based gravies), subzis (dry or gravied curries), pulao as well as tasty snacks. Today I am showing you the version I love best - the one my Rajasthani neighbour - M Aunty makes. M Aunty is to me what Jeeves is to Bertie Wooster, what Hermione is to Ron and Harry in case you are not a Wodehouse fan! She offers solutions when I bungle up things which I do very often in my kitchen especially when I tread on hitherto untrodden paths! Get the idea? No? Doesn't really matter - scroll on!! What really matters is the recipe after all:)!

The advantages of making gattas:
They freeze well in ziploc bags and stay fresh for at least a month which is by far the longest I have had them in my freezer.
They can be used to make gravies as well as pulao so if you have sudden guests, you know you can dazzle them with your magic wand - just pop into the freezer and create a tantalizing kadhi, subzi or pulao in a matter of minutes (twenty for pulao and ten for the rest, to be precise!).

The dough:
(I actually weighed and measured each item this time. I hope this helps!)
Basic Ingredients:
1 Cup chickpea flour (97g)
Making your own chickpea flour at home:
Roast chanadal/bengalgram uniformly till slightly aromatic and before it turns pink. Remove and cool completely. Grind to a fine powder.
2 Tsp. sunflower oil
2 Tbsp. water
Salt to taste - very little, a pinch of haldi or turmeric powder
Optionally you may add a 1/2 pinch of soda bi-carb. I do not add but I know people in hotel business generally do to get a softer, crunchier version. You can give the gattas various flavours by adding very little of dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) or finely chopped coriander or coarsely powdered roasted jeera. You can increase the spice level with the addition of chilli flakes or powder. I have done all of these at different times.

Dough for gatte
Making Rajasthani Gatte

Sieve the chickpea flour into a mixing bowl with chilli powder, turmeric powder and other dry ingredients. Add a tsp. of oil and the water and mix to form a tight dough. It tends to be a sticky affair if made with shop bought besan but since home ground flour is roasted and not as fine the dough turns out better. Today I used shopbought flour as I had some remaining from an emergency situation! Add the remaining tsp. of oil and smoothen into a ball.

Grease your palms and pinch a small knob of dough. Roll into a cylinder just less than a cm. in diameter and long enough to fit easily in the vessel in which you intend to boil them. I formed 12 such ropes about 4 - 5 inches long.

Rolled into pipes
Making Rajasthani Gatte

Heat 1.5 cups of water in a shallow but broad vessel to boiling point. Carefully drop the ropes side by side in the boiling water. They will sink and after about 2minutes, rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain onto a greased plate. You must drain them as soon as they float on the surface of the water as they tend to develop a spotty appearance otherwise. The plate has to be greased as they will stick as they cool. It does not make much difference but I do not like them broken. You may boil them in more water if you find that easier. The reason for using less water is to retain the residue and use it up as stock in soups or gravies. The stock gets a tasty flavour.

Boiled and drained gatte
Making Rajasthani Gatte

Cool the drained ropes completely and cut them into cm. long cylinders. Store in ziplock bags and use as and when needed after thawing.

Recipes with gatte:
I have so far made only one dish with gatte so far - my friend Bina's Gatte ki subzi. It is very different from the staple method of cooking gattas which is usually used in curd(yogurt) based gravies like kadhi. I am hooked on this one!

Yield: 105g or 1 level cup of gattas.

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