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Recipes | Wholewheat Buns and Spinach Litti – A Healthy Treat from Rustic India

8 May 2012 26 Comments

wholewheat buns  and spinach Litti

Whole wheat buns/Baatis and Litti Chokha – the two most rustic regional recipes from India invoke a mixed emotion in me. If the later brings back the memory of my carefree days the former reminds me of the insecurity I felt during my childhood. Unable to cope up with the work pressure and childcare my working parents arranged for a 60 something nanny to baby sit me. The most prominent features I could remember about her is her wrinkled face, bony rough hands and the white muslin Potli (pouch) she used to bring daily from her home for her lunch.

She brought these unevenly round whole-wheat buns/baatis neatly packed in a white muslin cloth or potli every day. Hand pound wheat flour to make the buns, firewood used to cook them and fresh ghee smeared over those baatis revealed the hard life of villagers. I used to get scared when she lifted me with her wrinkled hands but loved to bite on those savory buns she brought. The feeling of insecurity of taken care by a stranger was somewhat subsided with these delicacies she brought each day.

Those smoky buns made with hand pound wheat and smothered with fresh Ghee (clarified butter) is hard to forget. I may not have noticed all these features in those buns/baatis then as I was just a toddler. But now when I bake mine I could relate to the same feeling as my Baatis are devoid of these distinct features.

Though these delicacies are referred as ‘poor man’s food’, Dal Baati and Litti Chokha is a very filling & healthy meal for hard working people. The former is a popular meal in the state of Rajasthan and the later is more common in Bihar and other states of India. Both the recipes make a staple food for those working in field and other kind of labour oriented works. Both the meals do not require any modern day cookware or sophisticated methods of cooking.

The buns/baatis and the veggies (for Chokha) are baked together under the firewood, while the lentils are cooked in earthenware over the fire. More about this in the other post here.

Normally Litti is made with just wholewheat flour, but I wanted to differentiate between Baati and Litti and added spinach puree to it. The Littis look very pretty and tasted great with spinach puree.

Spinach Baked Buns or Litti

Recipes | Wholewheat Buns and Spinach Litti

Ingredients to go in…

For Litti

Ingredients;

  • 2 cups Whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup spinach puree
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil + 1 tbsp.
  • 1/2 tsp. onion seeds (Kalonji)
  • Salt as desired
  • A pinch of baking soda

Filling for Litti

Ingredients;

  • 1 cup Chickpea flour/besan
  • 2 green chilies
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp. diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • Salt as desired

Recipes | Wholewheat Buns and Spinach Litti

Method; Wash and grind a bunch of spinach leaves to make one cup of puree. Take a large bowl and mix flour, baking soda, salt and onion seeds in it. Add 2 tbsp. oil and keep adding spinach puree in small quantity to get soft dough. Dough for Litti should be slightly softer than that of whole wheat buns or baati.

Roast the chickpea flour on medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Peel and slice onion into very fine pieces. Grate ginger, chop fresh coriander leaves and 3-4 small garlic pearls.

Mix all the ingredients for filling. Sprinkle a few drops of water just to bind the filling, do not make it too liquid. You could avoid water and use the dry filling also.

Take small dough of Litti about the size of a tennis ball and make a round. Flatten it a slightly and fill 2 teaspoons of the chickpea flour filling in it. Bring all the sides together and close the circle completely, roll in to make a round ball and flatten it slightly. Make all the Littis in a similar way.

Recipes | Wholewheat Buns and Spinach Litti

You can use the following two ways to cook these Littis;

1. Pan fry; Heat a girdle and sprinkle a little oil over it, place a few Littis in the pan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn to other side and cook for another 5 minutes till it becomes golden brown from outside.

2. Oven bake; Brush all the prepared Littis in a large baking tray and brush them with butter or ghee. Bake them at 200°C for 20-25 minutes, rotating them after every 10 minutes for even baking.

These Littis are served with brinjal or potato chokha or any chutney. Crush the Littis slightly keeping in between palm and place them in a serving dish. Pour melted butter or ghee as you desire and serve with Brinjal or Potato chokha.

Wholewheat Savory Buns or Baati

Recipes | Wholewheat Buns and Spinach Litti

 Ingredients;

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup semolina
  • 2 tbsp. butter/ghee
  • ½ tsp. carom seeds or ajwain
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup or less warm water
  • Salt as desired

Recipes | Wholewheat Buns and Spinach Litti

Method; Mix whole wheat flour, semolina (suji/rawa), salt, baking powder, carom seeds in a large bowl. Add butter or ghee and rub it into the dry ingredients with finger tips.

Add warm water little by little to bind all the ingredients together into a hard dough. Cover it with a plate and keep aside for 30 minutes.

Make small rounds of the size of tennis balls from the dough. You can use two ways to cook the buns or baatis;

  1. Boil and roast; Place a large vessel fill with about one liter of water on the stove and let it boil. Add all the buns into the boiling water and cook for 10-12 minutes. Take out the buns from the hot water and keep them in a flat plate. You can slice each bun into two and shallow fry them in oil, or bake all the buns at 200°C for 15 minutes in an oven.
  2. Baked buns; Brush all the prepared buns in a large baking tray and brush them with butter or ghee. Bake them at 200°C for 30 minutes, rotating them after every 10 minutes for even baking.

Recipes | Wholewheat Buns and Spinach Litti

To serve these baked buns or baatis, crush each bun slightly using both the palms such that the buns do not break completely but hold the shape. Place the crushed bun in a plate and pour melted butter or ghee over it. Serve it with mixed Lentil, Brinjal or Potato chokha or pickle.

Recipes | Wholewheat Buns and Spinach Litti

Baati & Litti with Chokha and mixed Daal

My grandmom used to soak the baked buns/Baatis in a large bowl of ghee for an hour before serving :shock: …I can see many eyes popping through my screen :)

Serve these scrumptious savory buns/ Baati and Littis with mixed lentil, brinjla chokha or potato chokha.

Notes;

  1. Avoid baking powder in the recipe if you are using the boiling method for making the Buns or baatis.
  2. Homemade wheat flour gives the best results, the Buns/baatis come out more crisp and crumbly.
  3. Use boiled and mashed potatoes as the filling for Litti.

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26 Comments »

  • prathibha said:

    The whole platter makes me hungry and its lunch time..not at all fair to see something so tempting..I definitely liked the spinach baati,nice color..
    prathibha recently posted..Neer Mor | Spiced Buttermilk | Chaas | Majjiga RecipeMy Profile

  • chinmayie @ love food eat said:

    I tried dal baati at a local rajastani restaurant once and couldn’t even finish one one those! lol… I am sure it was soaked in ghee for an hour. I am interested in trying your healthier baked version of it.
    chinmayie @ love food eat recently posted..Spicy Focaccia with Fenugreek Leaves for #BreakingBreadMy Profile

  • rit said:

    if i will be asked for my last wish before hanged…its litti bati smoked baked with deshi ghee ;)

  • the wicked noodle said:

    “Pour melted butter or ghee over it”?!! YES, PLEASE!! YUM!!
    the wicked noodle recently posted..strawberry & apple whole wheat cookiesMy Profile

  • Priya said:

    Super cute savoury buns, will try soon.
    Priya recently posted..Lebanese Thyme BreadMy Profile

  • Asmita said:

    Looks brilliant! I wish I could get my hands on these now. I am so hungry after seeing your post.
    Asmita recently posted..Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk CookiesMy Profile

  • Liz said:

    Oh, what wonderful recipes…and I enjoyed hearing your memories of these. I’d especially love the wholewheat buns…mmmmmm, but the filled ones look yummy, too!
    Liz recently posted..Strawberry, Turkey and Brie Grilled Cheese…Crazy Cooking Challenge~My Profile

  • Jennifer (Delicieux) said:

    What a gorgeous recipe and I loved reading about your memories of these cute little buns.
    Jennifer (Delicieux) recently posted..Salted Caramel Apple CupcakesMy Profile

  • Rajani@eatwritethink said:

    Sangeeta… these look wholesome and terribly delicious… seriously loved the story of old caretaker. I’m bookmarking this – and hope to get around to it one of these days.
    Rajani@eatwritethink recently posted..Impromptu SaladMy Profile

  • dassana said:

    i had batis at a rajasthani restaurant and i could not finish even the ones which they served to me. in fact i could not finish the entire thali…

    loved the spinach batti… feel like making batis today for lunch :-)
    dassana recently posted..how to make paneer: homemade paneer with some tipsMy Profile

  • mjskit said:

    I’ve never heard of litti, have never seen litti, but I sure would like to try one! These look awesomely good! All those flavors and textures has me craving one! They definitely look like they are worth the amount of work. Beautiful presentations!
    mjskit recently posted..Salted Pecan BarkMy Profile

  • Reeni said:

    What delicious little buns and so colorful with the spinach! I loved hearing about your memories!
    Reeni recently posted..Greek FrittataMy Profile

  • Joanne said:

    I really need to start baking thing like this more often! Such a flavorful treat!
    Joanne recently posted..Recipe: Pan-Fried Asparagus with Ramps, Lemon and Fried Eggs {eat.live.be.}My Profile

  • peachkins said:

    love the photos! They look more delicious!

  • Mary said:

    Hi Sanjeeta, Great idea to add nutrition to the litti with the spinach. You just put it on my list to go to the Indian grocery store here (I’m in the States) to get some chickpea flour. Amazing how a taste can bring back such deep memories as with you and your nanny– thanks for sharing.
    Mary recently posted..Mango Sorbet with Ginger and Thai ChiliMy Profile

  • Deeps @ Naughty Curry said:

    wow, they look so rustic and beautiful… i have tasted dal baati at a friends house and loved it :)
    Deeps @ Naughty Curry recently posted..Mango Mousse Cake- to celebrate a birthdayMy Profile

  • latha said:

    sanjeetha yummy i love it, i think it can be done without stuffing also. for how many days we can keep it

  • sanjeeta kk (author) said:

    @Latha, These would stay good for 2-3 days.

  • Katerina said:

    How much food is involved in our childhood memories is unbelievable. These buns look delicious and it is no wonder why you still remember them!
    Katerina recently posted..Chicken in a Yogurt-Paprika SauceMy Profile

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said:

    A wonderful way to relive some of those childhood memories. Amazing how powerful our connection is to what we had as children.
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen recently posted..Eating in Good HealthMy Profile

  • Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything} said:

    It’s amazing how food makes us re-live parts of childhood. Now, that I’m thousands of miles away from my family I try to bring them closer by cooking recipes that we use to have all the time. Gives me confidence. Makes me feel not so far away.
    Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything} recently posted..San Diego Strawberry MuffinsMy Profile

  • Faith said:

    Food with memories really is the best food, isn’t it? Both recipes look wonderful, those spinach buns are especially calling to me! I love how they’re stuffed with goodies.

  • Anisha said:

    I’m tempted to try this… It’s simple and I guess I have all ingredients Baatti
    Anisha recently posted..Raw Mango Pickle (Kerala Style)My Profile

  • Preeti said:

    Beautiful post. Must get my hands on these..bookmarked. Thank you for posting the savoury buns..was looking for something similar:)

  • Shani said:

    Dear friend, I do share the same interests of yours. Travel,cookery…,reading…and above all, keeping the memories of the good old carefree days!I love your writing about nanni amd the food which reminds you of her…Wish you all the best for all your attempts!

  • Sundari Venkatraman said:

    Hi Sanjeeta,
    You have a fantastic cooking blog here. I especially love the baking recipes. I am planning to buy myself an oven and was looking for baking recipes on the net when my sister recommended your blog highly. I am so glad to be here. Thank you so much for sharing your culinary skills. :)

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