Makkai (cornmeal) Ki Roti, Hibiscus Sharbat, Mint Chutney, Paneer-Potato-Chickpea Samosa, Dal Tadka

Indian Thali is the theme for my monthly event Taste of the Tropics, hosted this month by EZ Cookbook.  Thali’s are traditional Indian platters that usually have a minimum of 7 different elements – at least 1 appetizer like vada (fried lentil donut), rice, roti, dal (stewed beans/peas), curried vegetable or meat, raita (flavored yogurt) and 1 sweet.  Each state of India will include different elements, due to regional variations in the cuisine.  For example, North Indian rotis will usually be some kind of paratha, whereas rotis from South India will usually be some kind of dosa.  So I decided to do a few elements from an authentic Punjabi Thali for this month’s Blog Hop Wednesday.

For this month’s Blog Hop Wednesday, I was paired with Rajani, whose blog I am very familiar with due to our mutual participation in Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon.  This month, I am only participating in Week 3 and 4 of the Blogging Marathon, so I had time to create several recipes to create a mini-Punjabi Thali, inspired by Rajani.  Blog Hop is a great opportunity to support other bloggers by utilizing their recipes, while at the same time, challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone!  So here’s my attempt at authentic Punjabi food!

Mini-Punjabi Thali

Paneer-Potato-Chickpea Samosas

This is a very basic dal that can be eaten with any kind of curry.  Simple, fast and easy  – for any day of the week!

Rajani’s Dal Tadka

1 cup yellow moong beans
3 cups water
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1 chile, split
a pinch asoefetida
salt, to taste

In a saucepan, combine moong dal and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, until tender.  Mash.
Heat oil in a skillet and toast cumin seeds for 30 seconds.  Add chile and asoefetida and toast for another minute.
Add to cooked moong dal with salt, to taste.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil, adding 1/4 cup of additional water, if the dal is too thick.  Remove from heat.
Serve with rice or roti (Indian flatbread).

This roti I fell in love with several years ago when I was hosting an Indian food cooking event.  I love any kind of cornmeal based bread, whether it is American style cornbread, Mexican corn tortillas or this delicious roti.
Once I decided to do this Punjabi thali and was looking for ideas to complement the samosas and dal, I could have easily done Jeera (cumin) Rice, but then I happened upon this recipe and recalled how much I loved it and decided to labor over this tasty Indian cornbread.

Makkai Ki Roti/ Cornbread Roti (adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s The Turmeric Trail)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup chappati flour (use whole wheat flour if chappati is unavailable)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ghee
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
1 chile, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup warm water

Chop ginger, onions, chile and cilantro in a food processor if possible, to get a really fine mince.
Combine flours with all the ingredients except and water and mix well.
Add the water a tablespoon at a time, until you have a dough that comes together and knead for a few minutes.

Divide dough into 10 balls.
On a lightly floured surface with chappati flour, roll out each ball into approximately 5-inch round. (mine are never actually round so just try as close to a round as you can get).
Heat a tawa/roti iron/griddle.
Place rolled out dough on griddle and cook 2 minutes on each side, brushing the edges with ghee.

Sharbat are popular drinks throughout India and the Middle East.  A combination of fruits or flowers with water or milk and spices.  Rose is one of the most popular sharbat flavors throughout India, however I used hibiscus which is also popular.  This is very similar to a drink we have in the Caribbean called sorrel, however we spice it more heavily with ginger, cinnamon and cloves.  I will have to post sorrel recipe soon.  This version is just as good with the gentle tones of cardamom.

Hibiscus Sharbat 
(click here for printable recipe)
4 1/2 cups dried hibiscus
1 cup sugar
6 green cardamom pods, crushed
5 1/2 cups water

Combine sugar with 1/2 cup of the water in a saucepan.  Dissolve the sugar and then bring to a boil for 1 minute.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the water, hibiscus and cardamom.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn off the flame and let sit for 2 hours.  Strain.
Serve chilled.

…linking to Taste of the Tropics hosted by EZ Cookbook

*if you are interested in hosting Taste of the Tropics, please contact me.  more info can be found here.  see available months here*

Chef Mireille 
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