Although we had a huge variety of homemade foods as kids, possibly more than many of our friends, going out to eat used to be a great treat for the simple reason of the rarity of such events. Our ‘eating out’ treats in the 60s were limited to the Udupi restaurants. We particularly loved the buttery crisp masala dosas, wadas that were crunchy on the outside and perfectly spongy and spicy inside (we hadn’t developed a taste for idlis then) and the ‘slab’ at the end (inevitably accompanied by the terrible Dad jokes about slab or slap! Sadly, we hadn’t yet learnt to roll our eyes at our parents then). Slab, I think was our own little word for the slices of ice cream, cut off a block, that were popular in those days. Our favourite slabs were vanilla and ‘tutti frutti’ (orange flavoured ice cream with candied fruit peel).
Simple but tasty and satisfying joys these, an outing like this for the four of us would set Dad back only by a few rupees! The other treat was the annual or biannual movie in the theatres. These movies had to undergo the tough scrutiny of my mother, something that would have struck more terror in the hearts of movie makers than the Indian Films Censor Board if they were to formally solicit our custom! Movie nights also had the bonus of potato chips and coke (yes, we used to get Coca Cola in those days!).
The beverages and ice cream selection was larger, with rich milk shakes made with fresh mangoes, sapotas and apples getting our votes. We also loved digging into giant wedges of cassata ice cream on really special occasions.
Just this morning I was chatting with my friend Irfan and said to him in Hyderabadi Hindi, “Apney khaaney piney ke din nahi rahey abhi” to which he replied, “Hau, kitna khinch ke sutatey the nai apun!”
I scaled down and adjusted Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe to half, used dry yeast instead of fresh, doubled the quantity of poppy seeds and baked them in a very hot oven under the grill cutting down the baking time by almost half. Two next time points for myself:
· make the dough just a little more stiff so the dough would retain its shape better
· make the bhatures with atta (wholemeal wheat flour) to optimise the health benefits
· Brush the bhature with as much butter as your conscience will allow J
Irfan, I hope you are reading this.
1 sachet dry yeast (7 gms)
1 tsp sugar
2 tsps popply seeds
¼ cup sour yoghurt
½ cup milk
Salt to taste
A little oil to knead the dough
Sieve the flour and salt in a bowl. Add dry yeast to a little warm water with sugar and keep covered till it rises. This should take only 7-8 minutes. Add the yeast solution to the flour. Add poppy seeds, yoghurt and milk as required to knead it into a soft dough, using a few drops of oil to smoothen it. Cover with a damp cloth and set the dough aside in a warm place (it is winter in
Place the tray under the grill in a very hot oven. You can also bake them on bake mode. Monitor the bhature and flip them when the top gets nicely browned.
Serve hot with chhole garnished with sliced onion and chopped coriander (and of course the mandatory hot green chillies and ginger juliennes).