The state of Gujarat is located on India’s northwestern coast just above Maharashtra state. The cuisine of Gujarat is primarily vegetarian in nature. Gujarati food is a delicate balance of sweet, salty and spicy flavors. Fresh seasonal vegetables served along with various dals or beans, rice and Indian flatbreads are usually part of a typical Gujarati meal.
A thepla is a delicious & healthy Gujarati flatbread that’s easy to make and always a pleasure to eat. Traditionally, theplas are made using atta (whole wheat flour) and a big Gujarati favorite is methi theplas (theplas made using fresh fenugreek leaves). My version adds a little protein by the way of toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas).
My Dal Methi Theplas are absolutely perfect for picnics & are also very kid-friendly as they make great healthy snacks. They are basically a complete meal in and of itself.
DAL METHI THEPLA (Gujarati Flatbread with Lentils & Fresh Fenugreek Leaves)
1 cup toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas)
¼ tsp turmeric (haldi)
2 cups atta (whole wheat chapati flour)
1 cup fresh fenugreek leaves, chopped
½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
1-2 small green Thai chilies, finely minced (to taste)
a few cilantro leaves, finely minced
¼ tsp red chili powder, to taste
¼ tsp ground coriander powder
pinch of ajwain (or you can add cumin seeds)
salt & pepper, to taste
1-2 tbsp all purpose flour (maida), as needed
ghee or oil (vegetable or canola), as needed
In a medium soup pot on high heat, add about 2¼ cups of water along with the toor dal & turmeric. Bring to a good boil, cover, reduce the heat to low and let simmer until the dal is tender but not mushy (about 12-15 minutes). Alternatively, you could cook the dal in a pressure cooker if you wish. You should have a soft dal mixture. Mash the dal with the back of a wooden spoon or ladle & set aside until needed.
Now in a large flat parath or mixing bowl, combine the cooked dal with the atta, fenugreek, ginger, green chilies, cilantro leaves, red chili powder, ground coriander powder, ajwain, salt & pepper. Mix well to make a soft dough, do not add any additional water – there should be enough from the dal. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp tea towel & let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes.
Knead the dough lightly and divide it into equal size portions. Roll the individual portions into round balls (about ping pong ball size). Take one round ball at a time and flatten it into a round disk using your palms. Dust your work area with a little all purpose flour and also the rolling pin with a little bit of flour to prevent any sticking. Gently roll the flattened ball into a circle, making sure the thepla is even in thickness. Keep rolling until you have created a thin round thepla approximately 6 inches in diameter.
Heat a non-stick frying pan (tawa) on medium heat, when hot -- carefully place the thepla in the pan. After a minute, turn the thepla. Both sides should be golden brown. Brush with a little ghee and serve hot – as is or with a little yogurt & your favorite Indian pickles & chutneys.
You can also add some finely grated zucchini or carrots instead of fenugreek leaves (methi).
To make a similar dish known as a dhebra: combine 1 cup of atta with ½ cup jowar (sorghum flour) and ½ cup bajra (pearl millet flour. Follow the recipe as directed above. Traditionally, dhebras are deep fried but for a healthier version – they can also be made on a tawa or skillet. Instead of bajra (pearl millet flour, you can add ½ cup of fine grain corn flour).